- Fear. Your friend is afraid of her husband or relative, tries not to tell him about some things and events in her life, worries that she might not please him in some way or provoke his anger.
- Control. You see that she cannot express disagreement with her husband or relative: she does only what he considers right, tells him all the time where she is, whom she meets and what she is doing. Perhaps, he calls and texts her very often and she is afraid of missing even one of his messages or not answering it immediately.
- Stories. Listen to what your friend tells you about her partner or relative. If she often mentions his “explosive” or “tough” temper, says that he is jealous, or worries about her “too much” — it can be a reason to be concerned, even if she tells you about it with pride.
- Behavior changes. If your friend has drastically lost her confidence or suddenly started to doubt or criticize herself for unknown reasons, she might be experiencing psychological or/and physical violence. Other changes can also be a call to be concerned, for instance, if earlier she was cheerful and sociable, but now she has distanced herself and become sad. Anxiousness and suicide talks — even by chance, with irony — could be important signs as well.
- Health problems. If a person starts to call in sick or to get hurt by some mysterious “accidents”, perhaps, she is being abused. You should be concerned as well, if your friend starts to skip work more than usual, wear covered clothes out of season or wear sunglasses inside. It is possible that she tries to hide her bruises or scratches.
- Isolation. Aggressors often try to make women stop communicating with their friends and relatives: thus, a woman becomes weaker and easier to be controlled. If your friend starts to meet her friends and relatives less often, or shows up everywhere with her partner and husband, even if it is not always appropriate — he probably controls her. He also can limit her access to money, vehicle, or credit cards.
What can you do?
Some of these situations can be not related to the violence. It is possible that your friend goes everywhere with her husband, because she wants to spend more time with him, or she starts to doubt herself because of some work issues. However, if you see a few of the signs together at once or notice bruises or injuries — don’t be afraid to talk about it. Silence of people around can cost her life.
- Carefully start a conversation. Wait for a moment, when you two are alone — it is unlikely for an affected person to discuss her situation with many people present. Tell your friend about the signs that concern you, that you are worrying about her. Make her sure that you will keep in secret everything she tells you.
- Do not insist. If your friend says that she does not need help, try not to push her. It is better to say that she can always seek your support and that you are always ready to talk and to help.
- Do not give advice. You may think that you know exactly what your friend should do to get out of the difficult situation. But it is easy to judge from the outside, without knowing all the details. You can offer your friend help and support, but in any case, do not try to decide for her what to do. Give some advice only if she asks for it.