At some point in our lives, most of us will be a first responder for a victim of abuse. The M3ND Project defines a “first responder” as any individual to whom an abuse victim discloses their story of abuse or who helps a victim with their abuse situation. This could be a therapist, pastor, co-worker, spouse, sibling, friend, parent, mentor, etc. You never know when you will be a first responder. Statistically speaking, odds are you will one day be on the listening end of a story of abuse.(1) Perhaps a close friend who’s in a relationship that you never expected had any problems will approach you. Or a coworker with whom you aren’t close but trusts you and confides in you about their situation. Learning that someone is abused can happen unexpectedly. It can be even more surprising when it happens between individuals you know personally. Most people think they will never deal with a personal relationship that has endured abuse. Although this can be a tough position to be in, you can and should prepare yourself to respond compassionately and to handle the situation with grace. How you respond can empower the victim or take their power away.
The M3ND Project has developed a helpful model containing simple steps to respond compassionately. Victims view this compassion through a defined and specific set of responses. To do otherwise risks exacerbating their trauma. As first responders, the goal is to help bring about clarity and healing. By familiarizing yourself with M3ND’s Healing Model of Compassion, you will gain tools for yourself and others who you know are currently involved with helping a victim. Although abuse itself is complicated and confusing, your response can be clear and supportive.
These are the eight action steps of the Healing Model of Compassion (2) to follow when interfacing with victims of abuse:
We hope that learning about the Healing Model of Compassion has been helpful to you. Please consider sharing this model with any organizations or individuals who work with victims of abuse. This is an excellent resource for churches, counseling centers, schools and more. To learn more about the Healing Model or any of our other resources visit How Can I Know if it’s Abuse. To receive regular information on facts about abuse, working with victims and detecting abuse, we encourage you to subscribe to our blog where we publish content weekly.