Supporting Safe Relationships


Today’s post is not a MWB post.  If you were looking forward to your regular round-up, don’t worry, it will be back next week.  Today’s post is about an issue that, at first glance, doesn’t look like it fits with my primary focus on health.  However, as the high-profile murder-suicide that occurred recently in Kansas City illustrates, relationship violence is an issue that cuts across all of the different levels of our society.  Abuse, both emotional and physical, is absolutely a health issue.  Abusive relationships are bad for individual health, they are bad for family health, and they are bad for community health.

Because the recent murder-suicide involved an NFL player, the story has gotten a lot of attention.  I have some frustrations that it took a high profile tragedy to get our greater community talking about these issues, but since the door is open, I will use that opening to remind readers that safe relationships matter for all of us.  Most of the time, we focus on survivors of abuse, encouraging them to get help, to get safe.  That’s hugely important, but it is not the entire picture.

We are all responsible for supporting safe relationships.  Not sure what is involved in abuse?  Here is a good overview.  That means that if you have a friend or a family member whose partner seems controlling, you should speak up.  Not sure how?  Here are some good tips.  Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is that many abusive people do not appear abusive outside of their homes.  In fact, they can be charming and socially capable.  So, if someone discloses possible abuse to you, please keep in mind the thoughtful words shared by Scott Mason, a staff member at the Rose Brooks Center in Kansas City in a recent interview with NBC Action News 41 in Kansas City:

“Saying ‘Oh, he would never do that,’ or ‘Oh, that’s crazy that you would say he would do that. He’s such a nice guy,’ or ‘Well you just need to leave,’” said Mason. “There’s all this victim blaming, this disbelief. So based on that response, often times, the victim will never disclose again.”

Mason said the most critical thing someone can do to support the victim is to believe them — validate what they say, rather than question.

“Remember you might only get a small snapshot of what that reality is,” Mason said. “To just believe and validate them and help them through that process.”

–Story by JiaoJiao Shen
Finally, abuse continues because of the culture of silence that surrounds it.  People being abused don’t talk because they are afraid of retaliation, afraid of not being believed, or unsure of how to move forward.  Children in abusive families don’t talk because they are taught not to talk–and they often feel they woudn’t be believed.  We don’t talk friends, family members or co-workers when their potentially abusive behavior makes us uncomfortable–because we are afraid of their reaction.
Abuse often tends to intensify during times of stress and financial pressure.  Both the holidays and a diagnosis of serious illness can create stress and financial pressure.  There are many ways to be abusive besides hitting someone, and we all deserve to live in safe relationships and safe families.
I hope that the resources in this post help answer your questions.  If you have more questions, here are some places to turn:

Kansas City Resources

Rose Brooks Center Crisis Hotline: 816-861-6100
Hope House Crisis Hotline: 816-461-HOPE

Missouri and National Resources

Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
National Network to End Domestic Violence
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224
Image Credit: Photo by ToastyKen via Flickr

5 thoughts on “Supporting Safe Relationships

  1. This is important post about such a difficult topic. I really like your point that abusers can be socially sophisticated and may not seem like our idea of an abuser. And I love that you are posting resources.
    Nicely done. Best, Allison

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