When someone you care about is in a relationship that’s abusive, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to help. Here are some things to keep in mind-
Signs someone may be in an abusive relationship
- They become more withdrawn from your relationship, in favor of spending an inordinate or unhealthy amount of time with their partner
- They seem withdrawn or “off”; often cancel plans
- Their partner acts jealous or possessive, is controlling, has trouble controlling their temper, publically puts them down
- They indicate their partner is pressuring them sexually and/or emotionally and financially or that their partner has threatened them physically
- Trust your gut and look for other signs
When we see someone we love in a relationship that’s abusive, it can be hard to watch. We might want to say something like- “I don’t get what you see in them. Leave already!” However, there are many factors that can make it challenging to leave this type of relationship and it usually takes a person many tries before successfully leaving.
If you notice warning signs, don’t wait for the person to come to you. Reach out to the person you’re concerned about. Set up a mutually convenient time and choose a private place to meet. Let them know you’re concerned.
Here are some things to keep in mind when supporting someone who is in an abusive relationship-
- Show that you are listening and ask questions like, “How can I support you right now?” “What do you need in this moment?”
- Express that the abuse is not “normal” and NOT THEIR FAULT.
- Build the person up and empower them to make choices that are best for them. If the person is in an abusive relationship then their partner is exerting control over them. Empowering your friend to make decisions rather than making decisions for them, can help to build back confidence. Affirm their strengths and remind them that you care.
- Focus on the person you care about, not the partner. Even if they don’t want help or don’t want to talk about something, don’t let them become too isolated. Continue to invite them to do things and to show you notice them.
- Help them with creating a safety plan. Be ready to help them when they are ready for it. For example, depending on the situation you might want to help them think through a safe place to stay.
- Remember your role. Offer to connect them to resources when ready. ViSION partners can provide housing and academic accommodations, counseling, investigation, and no contact orders in addition to a number of other services.
- Take care of yourself!
- Educate yourself about partner violence so you have a better understanding of how it might play out.
Please know that you are not alone. There are many people on campus and off campus ready to support you and the person you care about.