October 28, 2020

  • Your friend’s partner won’t let them spend time with you anymore because they say you are a “bad influence”.
  • Your daughter’s boyfriend is always jealously monitoring her text messages and social media.
  • Your neighbor’s partner tells them to cover up because they look “slutty”.

Every single one of these people could be in an abusive relationship. Even a seemingly perfect relationship can be very different behind closed doors. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know how to spot abuse when we see it or what do to when someone we know is experiencing it.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 20 people are abused by a partner every minute in the United States.1 Domestic Violence accounts for 16% of the violent offences in Alabama each year.  Domestic Violence affects more than 12 million people each year.2 

Just because Domestic Violence is prevalent, doesn’t mean that it is easily recognized. Many victims stay in these relationships for a variety of reasons: they don’t think they will be believed, they have nowhere to go, they are financially dependent, they have children….

If you have concerns about a friend or loved one’s relationship, there are several signs that might suggest they are in an abusive relationship. Not all abuse is physical, don’t limit yourself looking for bruises or other signs of physical abuse. Has your friend:

  • Withdrawn from social life?
  • Had a sudden change in their behavior or appearance?
  • Stopped welcoming visitors in their home?
  • Become reluctant to discuss their home life and relationship with their partner?
  • • Mentioned that their spending is being controlled?

If you believe your friend is a victim of domestic abuse, here are a few simple things you can do to safely help them.

Ask to Connect: It can be difficult for a victim to find a safe way to connect. Establish a safe way for them to be in contact and honor that.

Be Supportive and Believe Them: It is scary to be in an abusive relationship; opening up can be difficult. Listen to them, remind them they are not alone, and that it is not their fault.  Avoid shame and judgement. Don’t criticize them if they are not ready to leave.

Stay in Touch: Abuse is about power and control, and isolation is a useful tactic for abusers. Find creative reasons to check in by text, call, video chat, or social media. These check-ins may provide a lifeline form someone who feels unsafe at home. An online game may be a way for you to check in on your friend without making the abuser suspicious. The National Network to End Domestic Violence has privacy and safety tips for online gaming.

Make a Safety Plan: Having options can be empowering. Talk to your friend about their options for seeking help and encourage them to have a safety plan. Safety plans can be made when someone is in the relationship, getting ready to leave, or has already left.

Domestic Abuse can happen to anyone and it’s not their fault. It can be difficult to know how to help a friend, coworker or loved one who is in an abusive relationship.

Family Sunshine Center is always here to help. Contact our 24-hour resource line at 334-263-0218.  

Footnotes

  1. https://assets.speakcdn.com/assets/2497/alabama_2019.pdf
  2. https://www.thehotline.org/stakeholders/domestic-violence-statistics/