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10 Signs Your Friend Is In An Abusive Relationship And Might Need Your Help

by Kate Taylor
Kate is a writer who laughs at her own jokes and likes to pour too much hot sauce on her food.

Love, and being in a relationship is a beautiful thing — until it isn’t anymore.

Sometimes, a seemingly perfect relationship isn’t all its cracked up to be behind closed doors.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence shares that 20 people are abused by a domestic partner every minute in the United States.

What’s even scarier is that one third of all women have been victims of some form of violence at the hands of their intimate partners in their lifetimes.

Just because domestic violence is prevalent, doesn’t mean that it’s okay. Still, victims can have a tendency to stay because they are attached to their partner.

Have you ever had a gut wrenching feeling that your friend’s relationship might be abusive? If so, you probably want to help. Unfortunately, it’s not the type of thing you can usually ask directly.

Learn the subtle signs that might suggest your suspicions about your friend’s abusive relationship could be true.

[H/T: NCADV]

1. Her Partner Doesn't Like It When She Spends Time With You

1. Her Partner Doesn't Like It When She Spends Time With You
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Spending less time with your friend when she enters a new relationship is normal.

However, there is a point where it can become excessive and signal that something isn’t quite right.

Rachel Goldsmith, the Vice President at Safe Horizon explains that it’s, “Common for abusive partners to not want their victims to have a life outside of their relationship.”

If your friend’s significant other is discouraging her from spending time with you, chances are they’re also discouraging her from spending time with everyone else too.

2. She Started Dressing Drastically Different

2. She Started Dressing Drastically Different
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Someone may choose to change their style for many reasons, but if your friend who you’re worried about has appeared to do so unwillingly, you might see it as a sign her relationship is to blame.

Rachel tells us that a change in appearance is a red flag especially, “When the individual didn’t want to make those changes and they were made at the pressure of the partner.”

 

3. She Started Abruptly Canceling Plans

3. She Started Abruptly Canceling Plans
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

It’s always a little disappointing when a friend has to cancel their plans. However, things come up from time to time and we understand the predicament.

That being said, if cancelling plans is out of character for your friend, and you have a feeling that her partner, or their jealousy and control has something to do with it, you might be onto something.

Moreover, if your friend does keep plans, but spends a lot of time checking in with their partner using their phone or social media, it could be just another control mechanism for the abuser to keep tabs.

4. She's Noticeably Unhappy More Often

4. She's Noticeably Unhappy More Often
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

We can all understand being invested in a relationship and letting the inevitable ups and downs affect our behavior and mood from time to time.

However, have you noticed that your friend is especially sad lately? Abusive partners have a habit of breaking down their victims emotionally by discouraging, or shaming them.

Of course, someone’s down mood could be caused by a number of things, but Rachel points out:

If you notice a change in the demeanor of someone who used to be cheery and hopeful, it’s a sign that something could be going on. If you’re seeing the other signs too, you might be able to attribute their mood to the relationship. 

5. You're Uncomfortable With Her Partner

5. You're Uncomfortable With Her Partner
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If the friend you’re worried about is close to you, you’ve probably met her partner at least once.

Did you get a bad feeling when you met them? If so, you should probably trust your instincts.

It’s important not to jump to conclusions, but if you noticed any hints of abusive behavior with your own eyes, you should probably keep a close eye on your friend too.

However, Rachel stresses that its important for you to not say anything to the abuser directly. Your friend, or even you might bear the brunt of a confrontation.

6. She Has Frequent Cuts Or Bruises

6. She Has Frequent Cuts Or Bruises
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

This seems fairly obvious, but if your friend seems battered or bruised, and doesn’t do activities or work in a profession which may cause little accidents, it’s a very bad sign.

Since physical violence is serious, this could warrant a conversation with her about what’s really going on, or for you to get her the help she needs.

7. He Often Uses Rough Language With Her

7. He Often Uses Rough Language With Her
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

This may also go without saying, but the way your friend’s partner speaks to her can be very telling of what might happen behind closed doors.

Does he use a lot of curse words or speak down to her? If he’s doing it in front of you, he’s almost definitely doing it without you there.

Make sure you let your friend know that she doesn’t deserve to be spoken to in such rough language if its the case.

8. She Puts His Needs Before Her Own

8. She Puts His Needs Before Her Own
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If someone becomes abusive in their relationship and victimizes their partner, they expect the victim to cooperate.

Abuse in a relationship can often happen slowly, which makes it hard for the victim to identify that their behavior is wrong, or unusual.

However, Rachel says that if, “the person feels like they can’t prioritize their needs because they have to meet the needs of their partner,” that the relationship could be entering abusive territory.

9. Her Partner Has A History Of This Kind Of Behavior

9. Her Partner Has A History Of This Kind Of Behavior
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Chances are, you don’t have access to your friend’s partner’s full history. However, there are certain signs that you can talk to her about which may be cause for concern.

For instance, Rachel explains, “The way people who are abusive describe their past relationships is in a way that is extremely critical of their partner.”

She goes on to say that the abuser may paint a picture that their past partners were “crazy” or “problematic.”

Most importantly, abusive partners will often display, “A lack of accountability for challenges in past relationships.”

10. She's Clearly Afraid To Admit There's A Problem

10. She's Clearly Afraid To Admit There's A Problem
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

No one likes to admit that they are being treated poorly, especially by someone they might love.

Rachel explains that, “people who are abusive don’t admit to being abusive,” which makes it all the more difficult for the victim to come to terms with.

Another issue Rachel points out is that people feel a lot of shame surrounding abusive relationships, which will make them less likely to openly admit that they are a victim of one.

For which reason, your friend might not be ready to volunteer that there is a problem, or in extreme cases, might not even be aware.

Something else that makes admitting there’s a problem tricky is that your friend might not be ready to leave the relationship, and doesn’t want you to hate their partner, or put either of you in more danger.

If you are afraid that your friend is in an abusive relationship, it’s important to approach her with care and compassion.

Rachel gives us an example opener, “I’ve noticed these changes and wanted to check in because I’m concerned about you.”

She says its very important not to blame their partner at this time. The victim likely feels aligned with and even protective of them. Demonizing their partner will only drive them away further.

It’s also important to note that there are plenty of resources for people in abusive relationships who aren’t ready to leave their partners yet. Find out more about these, and more options at Safe Horizon.

Be sure to SHARE this information with anyone you know who might find it helpful!

Please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) if you or anyone you know is experiencing abuse.