“You can’t assume all friends and family will always want to believe and support you”-Angelina Jolie’s message for victims of domestic abuse

Angelina Jolie, the Oscar award-winning actress, is working with the United Nations to provide support for women around the world who fear being abused over the holidays. She is the Special Envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and recently spoke to Harper’s Bazaar U.K. about UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign. Here is the advice that Angelina had for women who fear they will suffer abuse during the holiday season.

“Talk to someone. Try to find allies. Be connected for emergencies. For example, you can agree a code word with a friend or family member, which tells them if you are facing an emergency,” Angelina said. “Begin to build a network and gain knowledge. It’s sad to say, but you can’t assume all friends and family will always want to believe and support you. Often it will be strangers who help. Or other victims, support groups, or faith groups. Above all, be careful. Only you really know the danger you are in, and until you find your support outside, you may feel quite alone.”

Wondering how you can support a friend who you think might be experiencing abuse? Angelina said, “If it has even crossed your mind that someone you know might be vulnerable in this way, try to stay close and present in their lives. Make it clear that you are there for them. Another thing we can all do is educate ourselves. Learn about domestic violence. Learn how trauma affects our health and can lead to biological changes, particularly in children. Take these issues seriously.”

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