Part II of Lone Star Legal Aid’s Domestic Violence Blog Series discusses listening to the voices of survivors and believing their stories. It’s important to be advocates for victims of domestic violence, but it is also essential to just listen as well. Sharing stories is a part of the October campaign which encourages the nation to mourn victims, celebrate survivors, and network for change. 

Listening and believing survivors is a proactive way to educate others. When survivors tell their stories, they are letting others know that it is possible to leave an abusive situation and that they can overcome the trauma that follows. 

Both men and women experience domestic violence in a relationship or marriage. Common responses for anyone experiencing abuse or violence are to express self-blame and fear of not being believed. Advocacy efforts, including listening to survivors’ victimization has improved understanding how to approach fighting against abuse and breaking the cycle. Listening to survivor’s stories has also helped people understand how men and women emotionally respond and heal differently and how each should be approached when listening to their stories. 

Responding to a survivor

If your friend discloses to you that they are currently experiencing domestic abuse or they have been abused sexually, physically or emotionally in the past, this could be the first time they are telling anyone and you must listen without judgement. Letting them know they are not alone is a great place to start and can make a huge difference. 

Letting the survivor know you believe them

Letting a survivor know that you believe them can change a person’s life and might even push them to find the right help such as psychological services, legal aid or other resources. It is helpful to communicate that they are not at fault. 

Support their decisions 

It is critical for a survivor to regain their sense of control after being a victim of domestic violence by an abusive partner. Support their decisions instead of pushing them to take actions they might not be comfortable taking yet. If your friend wants to talk, try to be an open listener. If a survivor is in need of additional support, direct them to a 24-hour hotline such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline

This month Lone Star Legal Aid is campaigning and supporting this cause by writing a blog series on several domestic violence topics from planning and prevention, listening to survivors to learning about what you can do to be an advocate. You can read the blog series throughout October on the website and also find the links posted on all social media platforms.

Read a LSLA client’s story on domestic violence here. More stories of justice like these will be posted each week on our blog series

Stay tuned next week for Part III of our DV blog series! Read Part I here

If you or a loved one is in need of help, you can apply for free legal help online at www.lonestarlegal.org or over the telephone at 1-800-733-8394. If you or a loved one are experiencing abuse and need assistance, self-help resources are available via www.texaslawhelp.org.  If you or a loved one are in need of an attorney or would like to explore other resources, you can visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org