Provide Support to a Possible Victim

Provide Support to a Possible Victim

Within your community, your family, your school, or your workplace, you have a part to play. Explore this section of our website to learn how you can be an active bystander helping to end and prevent domestic violence in our state.

Bystander Tools

This tool is called Know What to Do: Help Someone Experiencing Domestic or Dating Violence.

Use it to start a conversation with anyone you know or suspect is experiencing abuse and to find ways you can support them.

REMEMBER: Domestic violence occurs in every community in Rhode Island and can happen to anyone, regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic status.

Warning Signs of Domestic Violence and How to Help

Experiencing abuse icon

A person experiencing domestic violence may:

  • Display bruising or injuries 
  • Attempt to hide injuries (for example, pull down sleeves to cover bruising) 
  • Appear fearful or have lots of anxiety around partner 
  • Reduce eye contact when with their partner
  • Be isolated, be unable or feel unsafe to reach out to family and friends
  • Show no signs at all 

A person who could be hurting or abusing their partner may:

  • Criticize, demean, or humiliate when their partner tries to speak 
  • Control any financial transactions or force their partner to pay for purchases 
  • Respond with excessive anger or jealousy 
  • Insult their partner and expect you to join in
  • Act harsh, controlling, and hostile
  • Monitor phone calls and online activities
  • Or you may not notice signs from the abusive partner, listen to the victim if they suggest they are in danger. Not all abusers appear abusive outside the home.

Suggestions for Helping

  • If you see or hear a domestic violence incident call 911.
  • Provide information about local domestic violence agencies and the 24/7 confidential Rhode Island statewide Helpline (1-800-494-8100, also available through an online chat via Encourage them to talk to people and connect with organizations that can help. Offer to call an agency or the Helpline with them.
  • Call and check in with your family and friends especially those who are more isolated.
  • Assess your safety and the victim’s safety. Find ways to help that will keep both you and the victim safe. Never confront the abuser or talk about abuse with the victim in front of the abuser.
  • Share resources about domestic violence on your social media accounts.
  • Approach the victim without judgment, and express your concerns.
  • Listen, believe, and provide options and information.
  • Ask questions like, “What can I do to help?” 
  • Support the victim. Allow them to make their own decisions, even if it means not being ready to leave the relationship. 
  • If the victim discloses abuse, listen without judging.
  • Offer the victim a safe place to stay, or help them find one.
  • Encourage the victim to call 911 if they are in danger.
  • Remain patient. Leaving an abusive relationship is a process. Respect the victim’s decisions. Do not cut off support, and do not give up!
  • Display helpful information in your business or work. See our suggestions for businesses below.

Safety Planning

If someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or dating violence, offer to assist them in creating a plan that will help them stay safe when abuse occurs. Visit this portion of our website to see safety plan tools.

As advocates, we call this “safety planning.” A safety plan is a practical guide that can help victims of abuse and their children stay safe.

The person experiencing abuse is the expert on their own relationship, so it is important that they lead the process of developing a safety plan that will work for them. We encourage victims of domestic violence and those looking to help to speak with a domestic violence advocate about this process. Call the RI statewide Helpline (1-800-494-8100) or a local domestic violence agency to speak confidentially with an advocate and make a plan for safety.

Steps You Can Take

How to Be an Active Bystander

No matter what roles you play in life, whether parent, coworker, neighbor, or friend, you are a bystander, and you can help end domestic violence in your communities. Find some steps you can take below.

At the RICADV, we use public awareness campaigns to inform Rhode Islanders about domestic violence. For the last few years, our focus has been on engaging bystanders to learn about the ways they can help build safe communities free from violence. Visit our Communications Center to Know More!

Helpline Available 24/7

The confidential statewide Helpline can be reached by calling 1-800-494-8100 or using the online chat here. The Helpline is for all victims of violent crime, including domestic and dating abuse, and those looking for more information to help a victim of violence.

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