From the "Me Too" movement to the several high profile allegations of sexual abuse and violence toward women, an important conversation is starting about domestic violence.
But survivors say, still, too often the rhetoric and responses still place blame on victims.
"The first question anyone in authority would ever say to me is, ‘why do you think he did this?’" said Jennifer, a domestic violence survivor who did not wish to disclose her last name.
She says the question made her feel like it was her fault that her ex-boyfriend tried to kill her.
She says that's why more education is needed about healthy relationships, warning signs and the potential dangers.
Survivors and their advocates also say it's critical to believe people who come forward, and make sure to be patient, supportive and non-judgmental. Then, direct them to the appropriate services.
"Language like, ‘I'm worried about your safety and the kids' safety. I heard about this place called the Family Justice Center. They help people get their arms around if their relationship is healthy,’" said Mary Travers Murphy, the Family Justice Center of Erie County executive director.
Jennifer added, "If someone had told me that it wasn't my fault, it probably would have been a revelation. I was just so stuck in it. He only acted that way with me."
Some warning signs that a friend might need help include:
- Their partner puts them down in front of other people
- They are constantly worried about making their partner angry
- They make excuses for their partner’s behavior
- They stop spending time with friends and family
Anyone in need of help can call the 24-hour domestic hotline at 716-862-4357 — that's 862-HELP.