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Tips to help if you are a victim of violence or abuse

If you are a victim of violence or abuse, there are things you can do to take action.

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Pay attention to how you’re feeling.

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Read over what different types of violence and abuse. Notice how you are responding. How is it affecting the way you think and feel? Are you noticing any changes in your behaviours – like sleeping, eating, doing activities, going to school, or spending time with family or friends? What are you noticing in your body? There is not just one way to feel or react to violence and abuse. Any ways you react are normal responses to an abnormal situation.

Consider small ways you can keep yourself safer.

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You are not responsible for what has happened to you, or for making it stop. We all do what we can to protect ourselves from harm, even if it’s just getting through what is happening. It might help to notice what feels okay and what doesn’t feel okay – your limits and boundaries. Trust your instincts. You know best what makes you feel unsafe and what you need to be safer.

Get help to make a safety plan.

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A safety plan is a list of actions you can take to protect yourself from harm. It is important to make a safety plan if you’re experiencing dating or relationship violence, even if you decide to stay with your partner. If you are planning to leave your partner, do not share this information with them– this could make you less safe. It’s important to get help creating a safety plan before you leave.

Remember, it’s not your fault.

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If you have experienced violence or abuse, know that it is not your fault. Nothing you have said or done (or not said or not done) caused someone to be violent or abusive towards you. Even so, it can be very common for victims to feel they are at fault. There are lots of reasons someone may commit violence or abuse, but there are no excuses for this behaviour. The only person responsible is the person who harmed you.

Talk to someone you trust.

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It can be helpful to talk through what you’re feeling with someone you trust. You might want to talk to a friend, a trusted adult like a family member or teacher, or a professional counsellor or support worker.

Connect with a support worker.

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If you don’t know who to trust with what you’re going through, it may be helpful to talk to a support worker. A victim support worker can help you assess the risk you may be facing and help you make a safety plan. A sexual assault support worker can offer specific support for what you’re going through. To find a support worker, contact VictimLinkBC.

Do things that bring you comfort.

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Try to take care of yourself and do things that bring you comfort – even if it’s just one small thing that makes you feel better. Maybe listen to music, play with a pet, or talk to a friend. It may help to cuddle a stuffed toy, read a book, or think about things that make you feel happy. It’s okay if you can’t do any of these things. Know that you are doing enough just by being here and surviving.

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