Half of the population of Latvia knows someone who has experienced domestic violence: what to do?

Half of the population of Latvia knows someone who has experienced domestic violence: what to do?
Half of the population of Latvia knows someone who has experienced domestic violence: what to do?

More than half of Latvian residents (58%) know someone who has experienced any kind of violence in a relationship, according to a survey conducted by IKEA. However, reaching out for help and seeking support can be emotionally difficult for victims.

That is why fellow human beings play a crucial role in spotting violence and providing help. Experts share recommendations on what signs to look out for and how to react if you notice domestic violence.

How do you spot abuse when there are no physical signs?

“A person who suffers from violence very often feels a sense of guilt about it. It is difficult for the victim to admit that he is experiencing violence, and it is also difficult to bear these heavy emotions. For example, the person begins to talk in general terms about the fact that he can no longer bear a certain situation , but doesn’t really say what the situation is. We pay attention to several “red flags” if a person mentions hopelessness, despair, uselessness in a conversation. These emotions are a very worrying indicator that something is wrong,” says Anda Schvinka, association ” Chairperson of Skalbe’s council.

Spotting violence is sometimes difficult. However, there are some common features – a person begins to withdraw and isolate himself from friends and even family. Becomes more anxious, more acute, reacts more emotionally to events or is more often depressed and apathetic. Sleep and eating disorders may appear. If physical abuse has also been experienced, the person may dress atypically to hide their injuries.

To help the victim, you must first understand what has happened. Start with a humane, empathetic conversation. For example, discuss what changes you have noticed and show concern for the person. It should also be respected if a person does not want to talk, so you should always give him the opportunity to start the conversation again. “We can address the situation by saying, ‘I respect that you don’t want to talk about what happened right now. But know that I’m open to a conversation at any time.” You can add and point out that violence is not acceptable in any way and that the person experiencing the violence is not to blame. If the conversation is successful, it’s worth discussing a safety plan, how the victim will act or has already acted in case of violence,” emphasizes A. Švinka.

What can bystanders do if domestic violence is noticed?

• Take time and find a discrete and private moment to express your concerns. Don’t be shy if the victim is initially dismissive. Give time for the victim to recover and dare to talk about this topic.

• Believe the victim and affirm that violent behavior is never acceptable and no one deserves it.

• Ask a simple and human question: “What can I do to help you?”.

• If you feel that you do not have sufficient knowledge to help, encourage the victim to seek help from professionals who will provide both help and anonymity if the person so wishes.

What not to do

• Don’t make the situation smaller than it is, because that’s what an abused person is doing to themselves.

• Do not put pressure on a person who has suffered from violence – too much pressure to seek or accept help can alienate the person who needs help. It should be noted that the process of getting out of an abusive relationship takes time and everyone has their own pace.

• Do not endanger yourself.

• In a situation where you see a threat to human life and health, call the police.

Help in an emergency

If you are looking for help or need support, go here:

• informational support phone for crime victims: 116006 (every day from 12.00 to 22.00);

• hotlines for emotional and psychological support: 116123, 67222922 or 27722292 (around the clock);

• legal assistance provided by the state: 80001801.

In case of emergency, report violence to the police by calling 110. More about support options: cietusajiem.lv.

The article is in Latvian

Tags: population Latvia experienced domestic violence


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