Shannon will lead a Personal Empowerment Series at the Library, beginning in October. Click here to register: http://bit.ly/2d5xGKa
Many victims of abuse don’t tell anyone for their own personal (and valid) reasons. So what can you do?
Keep an eye out for these signs:
Behavioral Changes: As a friend, you have a good sense of your friends’ and loved ones’ personalities. If you notice a change in their confidence or self-esteem, this could be a red flag. Often abusers will put their partner down and may even make “jokes” at the victim’s expense in front of others.
Isolation: Similarly, isolating a victim is a common M.O. for abusers. Does your friend or loved one seem to have too many reasons that they can’t spend time with you? Does she call and cancel plans last minute with strange excuses? While spending a great deal of time with a new partner can be normal, if she is no longer participating in things she used to enjoy, this may be a red flag. This could be because the abuser is not allowing her to leave or she fears for her own safety or well-being if she attempts to go out with others.
Walking on Eggshells: If you are able to see your friend or loved one away from their partner, they may appear distracted or preoccupied. Perhaps they seem like they are walking on eggshells. Perhaps their abuser is constantly texting and calling to check on their whereabouts. Perhaps they are frequently checking the time to ensure they aren’t late getting home. These are indications that the victim fears their partner.
Exhaustion: All types of abuse can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Is your friend or loved one missing more days of work or school than usual? When she does attend, does she appear more tired than usual? Sometimes these absences are due to extensive injuries that the victim does not want anyone to see. Other times she misses work or school because he won’t let her leave the home. Other times your friend or loved one may feel too exhausted to leave because she was kept up all night with worry, sadness, or anxiety.
If you suspect that your friend is a victim of domestic violence, tread lightly. If you have a strong relationship and feel comfortable asking if they are alright, do so. But do not push. Victims will seek help and support when they are ready, not necessarily when we want them to. Refer them to resources such as the YWCA Woman’s Place or the National Domestic Violence Hotline and ensure them that you will always be there to support them.