By Eleanor Beeslaar
A strong and positive support system is an important part of healing from domestic violence. Surrounding yourself with people who lift you up and stand by your side can help you as you move through your journey of recovery. After leaving an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to trust others and build relationships, especially if your abuser isolated you from social connections. Asking for help can feel scary and vulnerable, and it may take some time for you to feel safe enough to express that vulnerability and reach out for support. Be patient with yourself as you learn to trust others and work toward building a support system.
Friends and family members can be a source of emotional support to survivors by listening to their concerns and struggles, while providing encouragement, kindness, and love. Loved ones can also help connect survivors to community resources and assist them with transportation, shelter, and other resources, if possible. While friends and family members can provide tremendous support for survivors, this may not always be an option due to potential barriers, such as distance, lack of transportation or other resources, or lack of understanding. Know that if this is true for you, there are always other people and agencies you want to help.
There are many formal supports available for survivors such as counselors or mental health professionals, support groups, domestic violence shelters, and medical professionals. These forms of support can help survivors connect to resources, find community and belonging, and navigate their journey of healing.
Counselors and other mental health professionals can help survivors process their trauma and emotions, develop coping skills, rebuild trust, and identify goals for their recovery and the future. Domestic violence support groups provide a community of understanding and can help survivors feel a sense of belonging. Sharing your experiencing and being surrounded by others who have experienced similar situations can help you feel less isolated. Support groups can also help survivors feel validated and empowered during their journey of healing. Medical professionals can also help survivors connect to resources and supports within their community, while providing medical care after incidents of abuse or violence. Finally, domestic violence shelters can provide many forms of support for survivors of domestic violence as they are leaving their abusers and beginning to re-establish their lives. Shelters often have case managers, who can help survivors find housing, apply for employment, and connect to legal aid and mental health resources.
If you are a survivor of domestic violence or know someone who is, consider reaching out to the resources and supports within your community. Below are some resources to help you identify the services and supports available for domestic violence survivors in your community.
- https://www.domesticshelters.org This website identifies domestic violence/emergency shelters and agencies within and near your community.
- The Family Justice Center in Greensboro and High Point offers shelter placement, safety planning, assistance with filing emergency protective orders (50Bs), advocacy and support for both adults and children, medical care, legal assistance, mental health services, criminal investigation services, and emergency needs and support services.
- North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides a list of resources available in the different counties throughout North Carolina.
- Family Service of the Piedmont offers emergency shelter, court advocacy (including assistance with filing 50Bs), mental health services, support groups, case management, and a 24 hour crisis line.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Deaf or hard of hearing: 1-800-787-3224