Often it’s your friend that knows you best. They’re the person that knows you better than your family does, or maybe let’s say, differently than your family does. It’s more often than not that a friend is the first to support you in times of need. To be the first to raise a glass and lead a toast in your honor, or to help reassemble the pieces of your broken heart after a breakup.
The cultivation of that friendship occurs through their consistency over time and being there as an emotional crutch for consoling, during the low points in your life. This closeness has afforded them the ability to see you in a way that you cannot see yourself. And thankfully so, because there are times when a woman is in an abusive relationship and it’s her friend that notices it first.
Unhealthy relationships can be so complicated, that at times the woman involved does not even realize it’s happening. Question… Do you have a friend that is in a relationship and it’s hurting her, causing her emotional stress, or even worse, physical pain and you wonder why she stays in it?
Perhaps, she doesn’t recognize there’s a change in her behavior. Possibly, despite the closeness you two have she feels apprehensive about disclosing the details of her relationship. She’s your best friend and you want to help but you don’t know for certain if she is indeed, in an abusive relationship.
To assist you in discovering if your friend’s silence is actually a cry for help, we listed some behavioral signs for you to look for. These may help you recognize that your friend is involved in an abusive relationship. And more importantly we included some ways that you can help her get out.
When a woman is in an unhealthy relationship or is the victim of abuse, the people closest to her can sometimes see a significant changes in her personality.
Was she once confident and bubbly, but now she seems withdrawn and quiet? Does she look nervous when her boyfriend calls or texts, and does she appear to lack energy she once had? If your friend’s personality has drastically changed after starting a new relationship, it could be a warning sign that something isn’t right.
People in controlling relationships sometimes find themselves psychologically or physically blocked from family and friends.
Have you noticed that your friend has stopped spending time with the people she once enjoyed? Could it be because her boyfriend doesn’t approve? From the time she began dating him, does she cancel plans with you more often? Does she seem to have a lot of excuses for why she can’t spend time with you? Her boyfriend may be trying to isolate her from the people who care about her. He may be encouraging her to distance herself from friends and family.
Controlling boyfriends may insist on knowing every detail about her life. Your friend’s boyfriend may want to know where she is and who she is with at every moment.
When you go out with your friend, does she keep her eyes glued to the phone? Does she jump to answer every call or text if it’s from him? Does she worry that he will be angry or upset if she doesn’t immediately return his attempts at communication? Does she often take selfies that seem designed to prove her whereabouts?
Pay attention to your friend’s demeanor when it comes to communication with her boyfriend. If she seems preoccupied, something may be wrong.
Women who are being mistreated by their boyfriend may begin to doubt themselves. It’s a sign of trouble if your friend was once outgoing and now seems to cower at a challenge.
Someone who suddenly stops taking risks might be in trouble. Notice if she is making negative statements about herself. Does she often say out loud that she’s stupid or incompetent? She could be echoing the comments her boyfriend says about her.
If your friend has started seeing someone new and then begins to tell you that she hasn’t got the money to go out, she may be in a relationship where her boyfriend is controlling her financially.
One way to gain control of other people is to leave them without resources like money or transportation. Unless your friend has had a significant financial setback, there shouldn’t be a reason for her to have less money than she used to.
When a friend who once shared everything with you goes silent, she may be hiding something important.
She may be unwilling to admit how unhappy she is, or she may be embarrassed about her situation. When people shut down and stop talking, there is usually a reason.
Relationships can take up a lot of time, and it’s normal to cut back on social activities to spend time with your boyfriend. However, it’s a sign of trouble if your friend completely gives up activities she once loved.
If your friend has stopped going to the gym, attending fun glasses or participating in social programs that used to be a big part of her life, it could be because of an abusive relationship.
It’s difficult to know how to react when a friend is showing signs of being in an unhealthy relationship. You want to let her know you care, but you don’t want to overstep your boundaries or sound like you are making accusations about her boyfriend.
So here are some suggestions on ways you can respond if you see any of the warnings signs.
Your friend may be feeling confused and concerned, so it’s important to give her a non-judgmental ear. Listen to her without passing judgment on her partner or encouraging her to leave him.
Let her know that you care about her and that she can always talk to you no matter what the topic is about.
Someone who is dealing with a toxic relationship may have a low self-image. Take every opportunity to build her up and make her feel like she’s someone special.
Tell her that you think she’s a great friend and that you’re thankful to have her in your life. Compliment her when she looks great, and remind her how smart she is.
If you’ve had a bad experience in a relationship, tell her about it. Be open about the mistakes you have made, if you wish you had gotten out of the relationship sooner, or what you did to change your circumstances.
Just share with her, it will help her to know that she is not alone.
If her boyfriend is controlling, he may try to isolate her if he thinks you are a threat. If you stop hearing from her or don’t see her for a while, then keep reaching out. Send her text messages and make phone calls. If nothing else works, show up at her front door or her workplace.
Express your concern for her without criticizing her boyfriend. Instead, tell her you’re worried because you haven’t heard from her in a while.
If she does decide to leave her boyfriend, then you can help her make a plan. Let her stay with you or help her find somewhere safe to go.
Talk to her about whether or not she feels safe, and call a hotline for advice if necessary.
Unhealthy relationships can be very serious. Friends should look out for each other. Be there to offer immediate assistance should the situation get volatile. Encourage her to contact the proper authorities and seek counseling. It can be difficult to know what action to take, in particular if your friend is scared or unaware, but as her friend, listen carefully for cues and help guide her to the right solution. Above all, let her know you care and that she is important to you.
(If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship seek immediate assistance and contact the authorities near you for help)
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