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Is my friend being abused?

Updated on November 4, 2010

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.



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    • Elaine Flowers profile image

      Elaine Flowers 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Voted up and useful.

      Watching abuse take place is such a helpless position to be in - AND DANGEROUS. There are many reports of abusers attacking and killing friends and family members of the person they're abusing. There are no easy answers but I agree; you should always speak up.

      Thanks for sharing insight.

    • Sweetsusieg profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Michigan

      If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck - it's usually a duck..

    • mmcgiver profile image


      9 years ago from North of Boston Mass.

      I havvent seen any tigers change there stripes but who knows it could happen.

    • Sweetsusieg profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Michigan

      If there is ANY WAY possible... Stop by for a visit, to check on her. Make it spontaneous, like you were driving thru the neighborhood....

      It is a guarantee he hasn't changed, how can I say this with such a certainty? Because if he did change, he would make sure she stayed in contact with you, so you can be assured of her safety.

      The e-mails of a non-personal nature speaks volumes. It means that he is checking her e-mail, and reads them.

      If you cannot visit for whatever reason, see if there is anyone else you know who can stop by to check up on her.

      I wish you and your friend the best.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      i have a friend who left an abusive marridge, but she went back to him (with his promise to change). our contact is in secret, but a month ago the emails became non-personal (she no longer addresses me by name or sign her name), every letter she avoids my questions about certain topics, i have told her she has my shoulder if she wants it. and as of 5 days ago the emails stopped with no warning , no goodbye. hope she is ok..

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      10 years ago from East Coast, United States

      A very frightening scenario. The thought of a friend being abused can confuse a person, you don't know what to do. Thanks for the tips. Maybe this hub will help someone.

    • Sweetsusieg profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Dawn! Yes, you can only do so much for them, they will have to make up their own mind. I just try to be there when and if they need me...

      Thanks for stopping by!!

    • dawnM profile image

      Dawn Michael 

      10 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

      Hi Sweetsusieg, yes as they say you can lead a horse to water, but they will choose to drink it or not. the only time that of course I would step in is if there were innocent children involved and I knew for a fact that she was being abused, I would call social services, thats just me, but I would have to have my facts straight and be willing to lose the friendship over it, because in most cases that would happen. Thank-you for this very sound and informative hub how to spot it and what to do about it.

    • Sweetsusieg profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Michigan

      @ Dave - Yes it does.

      @ JohnBarret - I believe he is well aware of what he is doing and I have confronted him on it. I've told him how I feel about it and he hears what he wants to hear. At least he is no longer hitting her.

      @ LaurieDawn - This is true, sometimes just knowing that there is someone who cares for you can give you incentive.

      Thank you all for stopping by and commenting!

    • LaurieDawn profile image


      10 years ago

      A very informative hub! It is nice to see that you care about your friend so much! That is all it takes sometimes is for someone to know they are cared about.

      Bless you.


    • JohnBarret profile image


      10 years ago

      Hello Sweetsusieg thanks for sharing and as you mentioned if she is believing her it means he is getting confirmation of his attitude. I think he should be aware of what he is doing as wrong and misleading. Well wishes for both of you.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 

      10 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Abuse comes in many forms, and we should be aware of all of them. Some are quite subtle.

    • Sweetsusieg profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Michigan

      Merlin you are so right, this Hub is dedicated in part to a friend who I felt was and still is being abused. It is no longer at the stage of him punching her lights out, but the verbal and mental abuse continues. He has convinced her that she is too stupid to get her GED... And she believes him. So sad, but I will always be there for her as long as she needs me to.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

    • Merlin Fraser profile image

      Merlin Fraser 

      10 years ago from Cotswold Hills

      Feeling Helpless when you know it is going on is the worst part. You know the abused person well, they are not dim or slow witted yet they will make pathetic little excuses for the behaviour of their partner.

      I have seen a once very bright intellengent woman reduced to someone who couldn't decide whether to have tea or coffee... Not through violent abuse but constant undermining verbal abuse that she was too stupid and couldn't stand on her on two feet. After many years she was convinced he was right and she therefore was lost and beyond hope.

      I tried to explain to her that there was only one stupid thing she had done in her life and that was to marry the good looking star of the football team !

    • Sweetsusieg profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Lilly for stopping by, this has been sitting on the edge of my mind since I wrote the other one. As a friend it's hard to decide where to go, you can see it happening and don't understand why they can't. You feel helpless to do anything.

      Just being there is the most important thing that you can do.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      10 years ago from Central Oregon

      The minute I started reading this, my hackles raised. Thank you very much for giving these common sense pointers for finding out if a friend is being abused, and honest things you can and cannot do to help them. The Best to you!


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