What would you do if you thought your friend or sibling was in an abusive relationship? Most of the time, violence in a relationship takes place when the couple is alone. You might not see dramatic warning signs like black eyes and broken bones. So how can you tell for sure? For one thing, listen to your instincts. You probably wouldn’t be worried without good reason. Here are some signs to look for that might mean your friend is in trouble and needs your help.
- When your friend and her partner are together, he calls her names or puts her down in front of other people.
- He acts extremely jealous when she talks to other men, even when it is completely innocent.
- She apologizes for his behavior and makes excuses for him.
- She frequently cancels plans at the last minute, for reasons that sound untrue.
- He’s always checking up on her, calling or texting her, and demanding to know where she has been and who she has been with.
- You’ve seen him lose his temper, maybe even break or hit things when he’s mad.
- She seems worried about upsetting him or making him angry.
- She is giving up things that used to be important to her, such as spending time with friends or other activities, and is becoming more and more isolated.
- Her weight, appearance or work performance have changed dramatically. These could be signs of depression, which could indicate abuse.
- She has injuries she can’t explain, or the explanations she gives don’t make sense
How to help: the Dos and Don’ts
DO: Listen to what she has to say.
DO: Tell her that you are there for her whenever she wants to talk. Let her know you care about her, and that you are worried about her.
DO: Talk to her in private, and keep what she says confidential.
DO: Let her know why you are concerned. Be specific. Refer to certain incidents you have witnessed, and not to the relationship in general. Let her know what you saw and how it made you feel. Tell her how you see his behavior having an impact on her — “He put you down and he manipulated you, then you made excuses for what he did. The way he treated you made me worried about your safety.”
DO: Offer to get information for your friend.
DON’T: Be judgmental.
DON’T: Make her feel ashamed. She probably feels bad enough already.
DON’T: Give ultimatums — “It’s him or me!” “Leave him or I’m telling!” She’ll end up apologizing for his behavior or lying to cover up for him, and she’ll end up going back to him.