Empowering through empathy
The story of domestic abuse, alas, is not uncommon. It prevails in the society like a virus and leaves destruction, fear and sadness in its wake. Given its prevalence, it is likely that you will know someone who is going through it, and may need your support.
Empathy is one such skill that can be developed to help support a friend. It involves understanding another person’s situation from their perspective. You may say that it enables you to “walk in their shoes.”
According to Dr. Brene Brown, research professor of the University of Houston, who has spent the past 16 years researching on it, “empathy moves us to a place of courage and compassion. Through it, we come to realise that our perspective is not the only perspective.”
Through empathy, you can help feel and better understand those undergoing abuse. Their reactions to their own experiences are normal and human reactions in the face of abuse and complex emotions, including issues with children, finances, and love and attachment with their abuser, among many other complexities that may accompany this type of situation.
Domestic abuse survivors are more accustomed to hearing that their pain is not real…that it is unwarranted, unjustified and unnecessary. And so, feeling it is deemed ridiculous.
However, when another person stands with them in their experience of an old or new injury, they can walk through it. It all starts with attention. When one is seen and heard by another, they can be more honest with themselves, and this attention could possibly lead to the healing process.
All too often, domestic abuse survivors endure years of frustration and bottled-up pain. Their experience falls on deaf ears with the person from whom they seek attention — the abuser. There can be repeated failed attempts to share their emotional wounds…leaving their loneliness and injury intact.
As a friend, you have the power to help and bring about transformation through empathy. It is a learned skill, and therefore the more we practise and engage with it, the stronger our abilities in this area become. It is something that can be nurtured throughout life.
Find the guide here on gitbooks for your ready reference. We sincerely hope that the information we collected and collated helps in your journey to help your friend, or family member in an abusive relationship.