National Domestic Abuse Hotline reports that, on average, 24 people per minute become victims of rape, physical violence. Which means that as we watched “Surviving R. Kelly” new victims of domestic abuse were being dragged into this daunting reality.
Commentary surrounding the docu-series was equally horrific. It confirmed that many us really have no idea how to support and show up for people who have encountered demons that we arrogantly believe don’t look as bad as our own.
Maybe many of us simply had no idea how many abuse apologists put on tailored suits and designer dresses to meet us for coffee or share space with us on the subway. Either way, there is more we can do, to decrease the sobering statistics and to remove the stigma of surviving abuse.
In direct opposition to an abuser’s isolation lie, everyone is not blind or willing to bury their heads under inconsequential details of whether a sexual assault victim was just slightly over the cusp of legal consent. We’re not all willing to drown our ignorance in melodies and punchlines to avoid acknowledging our faves as abusers.
There are empathy and support in abundance for survivors. Aja Burks, LMSW of Transformative Mind Counseling, explains what that support looks like:
“Being a friend without judgment is one of the biggest things a person can do. Many survivors state feeling like they could not go to the loved one because of previous statements such as, ‘You said you were gonna leave last time,’ or ‘Why do you keep going back?’ Although not intentionally said to do harm, statements like these add continued feelings of being alone.”
–Create a stash bag of clothes, shoes, underwear, socks, toiletries, a burner phone and charger, and everyday items that can be given to someone who has to leave without their belongings or a clear plan
–Start a savings account that you can add change to regularly which can be given to a survivor once they have escaped.
–Create a safe word that can be used in the case of an emergency and with no questions asked to indicate when immediate help is needed.
–Create a safety plan that highlights action steps that would put space between the survivor and the abuser, as well as in touch with places, people, and resources to help them stay out of harm’s way
It often takes as many as seven attempts for a survivor to leave. That’s more courage than many of us would ever have to muster to sleep soundly at night. We can match their effort in real ways and help to disable abuse in our community. What will you do?
Written By: Ashley Littles
Follow Ashley on Instagram: @moxiedmama