Respecting & Listening to Victims of Violence — a handbook from Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter
Do you want to be able to support victims of family violence? This excellent handbook will show you how — and it’s also a worthwhile read for victim-survivors.
Respecting & Listening to Victims of Violence explains how to talk with victims in respectful ways — ways that will really help women who are being abused by their partners. NB: the word violence in the title does not mean it’s only restricted to physical violence. The authors of the handbook are using the term in the way many DV professionals use it, to cover all the various tactics of coercive control that domestic abusers can use — emotional, verbal, financial, social, sexual, physical, spiritual and legal abuse.
The role that supportive people can play in helping victims of domestic violence is huge. HUGE. Studies have shown that positive social responses help victims recover faster, gain trust in asking for help, reduce self-blame, and help the victim feel integrated again into their community.
Respecting & Listening to Victims of Violence is produced by the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, Canada. Some readers will be already familiar with this organisation, because we have often encouraged readers to check out their publication Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships. They readily acknowledge Dr. Allan Wade who, along with his colleagues, originated the response-based approach put forward in their handbooks. I have often praised Allan Wade on ACFJ for teaching me how to elucidate and honor victim’s resistance.
Respecting & Listening to Victims of Violence outlines five principles that supporters will find helpful when interacting with victims. After outlining the principles the handbook goes into more detail by applying these principles to a real-life situation. We strongly encourage you to read it all, as the case study makes it so very clear!
The Five Principles
Principle 1: Acknowledging the violence.
When the victim is talking about her experiences of abuse, it is important to pay close attention to the violence and abuse she has experienced. . .
Principle 2: Being clear that the one who perpetrates abuse is the one who is responsible.
Victims find it helpful when they have conversations with supporters who are clear that it is the person who perpetrated the abuse who is the one responsible. . .
Principle 3: Honouring the victim’s resistance to the violence.
In our experience, victims have appreciated it when we have asked about and paid attention to all that they have done to resist their partner’s abuse. . .
Principle 4: Challenging victim-blaming messages the victim has received from others.
Many victims receive messages from others that suggest it is their fault that their partner is abusive to them. We can also help victims challenge any victim-blaming messages they may have received. . .
Principle 5: Allowing victims the right to judge their own choices.
While we always seek to challenge victim blaming messages, and work hard to make it clear that the perpetrator always had a better choice than to abuse another person, we have also found that it is helpful to allow victims the space to talk about their regrets if they wish to. . .
Our Resources section now has links to both these publications by Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter.