“No, he/she was just playing.”
“We always talk like that to each other.”
These may be a few phrases you hear from someone who is going through an abusive relationship. You may think to yourself that something is not right, and that tight ball may form in the pit of your stomach, but you will ignore it and proceed with your day while that person is screaming in silence. October is the official month that brings awareness to Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence is more common than people think. A lot of people believe that domestic violence is always physical, and it always happens to women. These two statements are false. A perpetrator will target with a first or words and they do not care if you are a male or female. When someone is in an abusive relationship they may feel the need to hide and not tell anybody what is going on. They may feel abused is the definition of love. We all know that that is not love. So as a friend or even just a bystander, it is important to know some signs if someone is going through an abusive and domestic violence relationship.
1. They isolate themselves and become less social.
It is common for someone who is going through these unfortunate situations that they will isolate themselves. The abuser will burn bridges between the victim’s family, friends, and associates so that the victim will only have one source of protection and friendship which will be them, the abuser. That is why it is important to not blow your friends off or not help them after they keep going back to that same person and doing the same thing. Yes, it is frustrating to watch someone you care about go through this, but you have to understand that if it is hard for you to watch then it is even harder for them to be in it. I know it is not easy, but by you turning your back and not being there only makes it worse. Do not fall into the abuser’s trap of isolation.
2. Bruises and marks start.
Some may be verbal, but if it happens to be physical that makes it easy to notice signs. Bruises and marks speak louder than words. A lot of times the person will lie and use excuses of practice, falling or even hitting themselves with objects. It might be hard to tell the first time, but if it is constantly happening then you know. Do not embarrass them in front of a group. Pull them to the side and say “you can tell me the truth I am not going to judge you. I am here to help you. Where are your bruises from?” At that moment they have a choice to either tell you or to not tell you and if they choose not to, do not give up on them just every time you get a chance to remind them that you are there for them. Trust me, you will know when it is abuse. You will get that feeling and do not ignore it if it taps you on the shoulder.
3. Body language is screaming for help.
A person’s body language can speak a lot about them. If you are having suspicions that a person is going through abuse, pay attention to body language. If they are not as confident as they use to be, that could be a major indicator that they are suffering through abuse.
4. They seem distracted.
If a person is going through abuse and issues in a relationship their mind is going to be everywhere except for “here”. You may catch them staring off into space often. Or they may always be on their phones way more than usual. They may begin to slip in their class. Being in an abusive relationship, even when it is not physical, is draining. They may be tired all the time. If you notice a change in their tentativeness pull them aside and have that talk with them. Ensure them that you will always be there and that you will not judge them. That is what they need to hear most in a time like this.
5. Not being “allowed” to do a certain thing.
An abuser will become very controlling and overprotective with their victim. They will start telling them what they can and cannot wear. Where they can and cannot go. Even how they can and cannot wear their hair. If a person is saying that they cannot do something because of their significant other that is a huge red flag. Now, there are certain things that are not appropriate to be doing in a relationship, but a man/woman should never threaten someone they love if they do something or tell them what they can and cannot do that is unreasonable such as clothes, hair, and minor things that anyone has the freedom to do in or out of a relationship.
Although these are just a few signs, I hope they were helpful in some ways. Some people may not show any of these signs, so it is important to spark the conversation of what a healthy relationship looks like because a lot of people may not know. As a friend who is noticing just a few of these signs, it is important that you are always there for them and reminding them what they are going through is not love. It is not fine. This is not playful. And this should not be a way they talk to you. Do not just ignore the person when they are screaming for help through there bruises, teary eyes, and presents. They need you and they want the help. It is just difficult for them to pull away. When a person is in the midst of the storm sometimes they do not notice it is raining. They are so caught up in that one person and looking into their eyes and seeing the perfection that they do not notice the world around them is falling apart. Take a stand. Take a chance. Say something. Save someone.