There’s help for friends who see signs of domestic violence

“I believe you. I’m sorry this is happening to you,” is a place to start.

A <a href="https://wscadv.org/resources/friends-family-guide/" target="_blank">“Friends & Family Guide”</a> is available on the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence website for people who want to help someone they know who is is an abusive relationship. (Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

A “Friends & Family Guide” is available on the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence website for people who want to help someone they know who is is an abusive relationship. (Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

EVERETT — Anyone could notice that something is wrong.

They might ask the right question.

They might help save a life.

Statistically, everyone most likely knows someone who is experiencing domestic violence, said Kelly Starr, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

People often share with their peers, or trusted adults, she said. Those folks also may have concerns that haven’t been voiced. They may not feel equipped to know what to do, or when.

“People turn to their friends and their families and their coworkers and their community far more often than they turn to police or court,” she said.

The coalition has made a new resource available that recognizes that friends and family often become first responders. There’s a quick, easy-to-skim website that’s also available as a print-out.

The coalition is made up of nearly 70 advocacy programs across the state, including Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County and the resources offered by the Tulalip Tribes.

It also researches and publishes data, including past reports that examined domestic-violence homicides in Snohomish County.

The work repeatedly has shown that victims of color and those in LGBTQ and immigrant communities are especially vulnerable. Another pressing concern is young people who are dating.

In Washington, the majority of murder-suicides involve an intimate partner, and 94 percent of the victims are female. About a third of those killed entered the relationships before their 21st birthdays.

Mass shootings in Marysville in 2014 and Mukilteo in 2016 both started when a young man’s loss of control in a relationship led him to pick up a gun.

The new guide also addresses conversations with suspected abusers.

In addition, it stresses the importance of self-care for concerned loved ones.

“It’s often times a really long process, and domestic violence is really complex, and it can be hard to be a support person for a really long time,” Starr said.

Still, “isolation is such a powerful way to control people. Staying connected is one of the most powerful things you can do even though it’s really hard,” she said.

Lastly, remember that even if the situation doesn’t seem to be changing, “sometimes what you say has a positive impact even if you can’t tell,” she said.

You don’t have to have all the answers — but your words can be unconditional and nonjudgmental.

“I believe you. I’m sorry this is happening to you,” is a place to start.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

Help available

Find the new guide at wscadv.org/friends.

You can talk with an advocate any time (you don’t have to be in crisis) to sort out how to help someone who is in an abusive relationship. You can call, chat, or text the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or reach out to your local domestic violence or sexual assault program to get support.

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