In a previous blog post, we discussed the signs that indicate you may be part of an abusive relationship. But even when you, yourself are not being abused, recognizing the signs of abuse is extremely important.
One of the fundamental beliefs at VEST is that Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault are social issues that impact more than just the individuals who are need support and protection. The impact of these types of violence is felt by the entire community and has impacts that affect the entire generation.
Therefore, all of us as members of the community, have an obligation to help eliminate as much of this problem as possible. This is for the common good. And as part of that effort, learning to spot the signs that someone may be in an abusive relationship is a vital skill to develop.
Signs That Someone May Be in an Abusive Relationship
Your “Abuse Radar” should go off if a person you know:
- Appears to be overly worried about pleasing their partner / family member.
- Are constantly checking in with their partner / family member.
- Exhibit noticeable personality changes, such as seeing chronic low self-esteem in someone who was previously usually confident.
- Has a partner / family member who constantly belittles them in public and / or on social media.
- Never seems to have any money available, even for small things such as going out for coffee.
- Suddenly loses access to important things like their cars, keys to their home, medicine, etc.
- Begins skipping-out on work, school, or stop taking their children to childcare – often for no clear or rational reason.
- Increasingly opts out of group and other social activities.
- Seems to wear clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer which can cover bruises and other injuries.
- Are constantly make excuses for injuries, especially if their injuries occur more frequently than you would normally expect.
Of course, you may also be witness to overt instances of abusive behavior, where a person is injured, ridiculed, harassed, abandoned or yelled at by their partner / family member. And abuse is not a one-way street. Women are capable of abusing their male partners as well. Even if they are not as strong as their victims, they can employ tactics such as using weapons, conducting “surprise” attacks or attacking while you are asleep, or threatening or injuring children or your pets.
What You Can Do
The most important thing you can do for a friend you think may be suffering in an abusive relationship is to “be there” for them. Be open to listening to them. Be patient and stay calm. Even if they are exhibiting many of the “self-damaging” behaviors abuse victims use, it is important not to chastise, blame or push them too aggressively to seek help. Don’t participate in any of their misleading or delusional thinking they use to hide the abuse. Simply speak the truth. Explain what you perceive in as factually and non-emotionally manner as possible. And, suggest ways that they may get some help.
If you live outside the area, you can direct the potential victim to a local domestic violence agency or have them call the National Domestic Violence 24-Hour Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or for TTY for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-787-3224.
However, if you feel the abuse victim or anyone close to them is in direct physical danger, please call 911 to get professional assistance as soon as possible. Also, encourage the victim to distance themselves from the abuser immediately.
Lastly, any support you can give to your local domestic abuse and sexual assault support agency will be hugely appreciated and deeply impactful. We encourage you to donate any amount you can to local support agencies and become part of the solution to domestic abuse and violence.
To donate to VEST – Victims Empowerment Support Team, CLICK HERE.