Is my friend being abused?
For the one being abused
Our friends often see things that we are blinded by, when we are in love. If you happen to have a friend who is showing concern and feels that you might be abused, do not be angry with your friend embrace them, for they truly care.
Abuse can be difficult to see
Sometimes the signs of abuse are fairly subtle and difficult to discern, particularly when we are not in the situation. There are things as a friend that you can look for when trying to determine if your friend is being abused. Abuse happens in many different levels and only the one being abused can get out of the situation.
As much as we would like to take our friend away from the situation, we have to realize that would make us no better that the abuser. Why? Because we would be ‘telling’ our friend what to do. Our friend has to recognize the problem and want to get out.
There are signs you can look for, as a friend, to help determine if your friend is being abused.
Abuse happens in both Men and Women
For the purpose of this article we will use the term ‘Him’ in place of the abuser. Abuse happens to BOTH men and women, if you are concerned about your guy friend, just insert ‘her/she’ in place of ‘him/he’.
Abuse should NEVER be tolerated from anyone.
1. Control - Is your friend ’allowed’ to go with you or anywhere without him? This is not an end all to determine if abuse is happening, but it is a very good sign that abuse could be beginning.
Phone - Is your friend allowed to talk to you on the phone? Does she have to do it when he isn’t around? If he happens to come in while you are on the phone, does she hurriedly get off the phone? When you are on the phone does the conversation quickly change when he comes in the room?
Visits - Does your friend ‘act’ differently when you and she are together? Do you feel that she is not allowed to be herself when he is around? Does the light in her eyes and the smile on her face fade when he shows up?
Are there Changes?
2. Changing - Has your friend changed drastically? In the clothes she wears? The way she wears her hair? Her make-up? When you look at your friend, do you ask yourself “What happened to her”?
When in a relationship we all change, even if it’s just a little bit. It’s the drastic changes that happen that you want to look for. The things your friend swears would never happen, like leaving the house without make-up. For instance you show up to your friends house because you and she plan on going to the store to do a little shopping, she says she is ready but has no make-up on. When you question her she says “Oh, he says I look better without it”.
Fighting with you
3. Picking a fight - If by chance you start questioning your friend about her being abused, she may be fine with it at the moment but very soon you discover she is angry with you. As any good friend will do you attempt to discover why.
She may say that her man has said he talked to you and you called her a ‘bitch’. While it may be totally untrue, it does happen. It’s up to you to discover what is going on.
Her man may have said other things about you that you are unaware of. If you happen to be a person who dates a lot, you will now be a ‘slut’ and he may not want you hanging around with her. His reasoning will be so that bad behavior doesn’t ’rub off’.
He may tell her that you have flirted with him, or tried to get him in the sack. Though this is totally untrue, and never happened even for one second, your friend may half heartedly believe it. Why? He is trying to alienate you from her.
The Secret Friendship
If you have already made comments about abuse, she will have told him. He will not approve of your butting in.
One of two things will now happen either she will not call you altogether, or when she does it will be in secret from him. You will no longer go shopping together or even hang out unless he is at work, or somewhere else. The friendship will have to be a secret one. It will be your only way to continue to have contact with her.
She Loves Him
By now she may be beginning to realize that there is some form of abuse going on, but in her mind it is not good enough reason to leave him. Above all else, she loves him and is hoping that he will change.
The abuse may get worse. She may come to you from time to time crying that he did something to her ie; hit her, slapped her, called her names, took away her phone, car keys, cheated on her. As any good friend you hand her tissues and listen to her complaints. She may even tell you she will never go back to him.
You sit up half the night with her listening to her stories only to discover in the morning she is gone. When you look at the phone and hit redial, you see that she has called him.
Abuse may get worse
As time goes on the abuse gets worse and worse. But she is in deeper than ever, with each new hit or slap he manages to get her deeper entrenched in their relationship. He does this with various means of control. Generally the abuse becomes emotional as well as physical.
If you manage to get past these things as a friend, and it will be very hard to do, stick around. Be there for your friend, eventually she will have had enough abuse and will need someone to help her out.
What you can do to help
1. Offer her a place to stay, if at all possible.
2. Try not to down grade her man, she will see through him. When she is able to walk away she will need someone to help her get her life back together.
3. Be there for her.
4. Telling her “I told you so” isn’t going to help anything, it may only cause resentment. If the conversation turns to him, don’t bad mouth him in front of her, she may begin to defend his actions. If this happens, drop the subject, she won’t be ready to leave him yet.
It will be up to your friend to decide when she has had enough, just remain her friend. It’s very difficult to sit back and watch your friend be abused without saying anything. But in order to remain her friend, you can tell her what you see but try not to make judgments against him.
If she thinks she may want to end it with him, you can offer suggestions of how she can get out of it. Money may be an issue, help her find a job, offer her a place to stay. You may have to drive her around if he has taken away her car. If the police have become involved there are places that she can be taken to called ‘safe houses’.
You can find her brochures on Domestic Violence and give them to her to read. She may not even realize that she is being abused. If she has family, you may want to go to them to tell them what you see so they can be on the look out for it as well.
Remain her friend
If for some reason she stops talking to you for a while, check up on her from time to time. Just to let her know that you are still there. Above all, remain her friend. There will come a time that she will need you and if you are available and she knows that you are still her friend, you could be the one to save her life.
A fellow Hubbers story
- The Whisper That Became a Roar
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