I want to first thank you for having the courage to write this question. It sounds like you care for your Auntie a lot. They are going to need your strength and compassion during this time.
This question is a difficult question to answer. There are a lot of different and moving pieces here. People’s initial response is to go in and try to “rescue” people from domestic violence. This can make things difficult as the need for change comes from the victim (your auntie). When talking about change, the “Stages of change model” is often referred. The “Stages of change model” includes 6 stages of readiness; Pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance and relapse. So being able to allow your auntie to let you know where she is, is crucial. Depending on where she is, is going to determine how best to support her.
What has been proven to work is being nonjudgmental and supportive during this time. One of the things that commonly happens is that victims often change their minds, and will sometimes cut off communication with extended family members because they feel guilty or are ashamed.
The process of escaping someone is being abusive can be one of the hardest things to do and is often mixed with a bunch of different emotions. Please try to understand where your auntie is coming from. There may be kids, love, feelings, and safety concerns that are impacting their ability to safely leave the relationship.
Your auntie may need additional support. This could include a safety plan with a trained professional. Or a continued safety exit plan that includes you. Sometimes knowing there is a place to go, with a loving family member can offer them an important sense of hope.
For you personally, you might try and locate an advocacy agency near you to connect yourself and them with. They also have resources for you, and your mental health needs as you bear witness to this. You’re important during this time, and the more you take care of yourself, the more you’re able to continue to offer support.
I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with local and national resources. Most tribes have Domestic Violence programs, supports and advocacy. Some tribes have Victims of Crime units as well. StrongHearts Native Helpline is a safe domestic violence (DV) and dating violence hotline for American Indians and Alaska Native folks and offers culturally appropriate support and advocacy daily from 7:00am to 10:00pm (CT). Their number is 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483) or call the National Domestic Violence hotline who are 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233.
You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.
National domestic violence hotline: 1800-799-7233(Safe)