One of the most difficult situations you can be faced with is coming to the realization that a friend or loved one is in an abusive relationship. Abusers depend on their partner’s unwillingness to admit that their relationship is problematic, and many times the abuse survivor is an active participant in hiding the abusive nature of the relationship from even their closest friends. If you suspect your friend may be involved in an abusive relationship, be on the lookout for the following six signs that may point to a serious issue:
1. Physical Evidence
The most obvious sign of abuse is physical evidence, whether in the form of bruising or other injury from physical altercation, or through damage to property or pets.
2. Isolating Behavior
Abusers tend to try and isolate their victims from friends and family. If you notice your friend becoming more distant and more difficult to spend time with, your friend’s behavior may be indicative of an abusive relationship.
3. Constant Criticism
Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse, and often takes the form of constant criticism and put-downs. Many times the abuser will publicly shame his or her partner, severely affecting their self-esteem.
4. Controlling Behavior
Often abusers will exhibit controlling behaviors, particularly with money and basic liberties. If your friend has recently relinquished all control of their finances, or their ability to get to work or school has been limited by their partner, this could be evidence of abuse.
5. Threats and Intimidation
The threat of abuse can cause psychological damage that can be as detrimental to your friend’s well-being as any other form of abuse. Abusers will threaten to injure, kill or make destitute their partners in an effort to control their behaviors.
6. Unrealistic Expectations
Abusers will often project unrealistic expectations onto their partners, creating scenarios that their real-life relationships cannot live up to. This can materialize in fits of jealousy or further incidents of abuse when the abuser’s partner fails to meet these expectations.
If you notice any of these signs in your friend’s relationship, it could mean that your friend is involved in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. Attempt to discuss the situation with your friend alone, and be careful not to use any judgmental language that might cause your friend to shut down. Make your friend aware that you are there for them, offer to share available resources, and listen patiently when they tell you what they need.
Information credited to Gregory Rod, Edmonton assault lawyer.