Behavioral signs to look for if you think a friend or family member is being abused:
Cannot do anything without checking with their partner
Has become quiet or unusually withdrawn
Seldom has any cash and is always making excuses about forgetting money
Wears concealing clothing even in hot weather
Has bruises when you see him/her and they are in different areas of the body
Suddenly seems “accident prone’
Has been calling in sick to work
Never comes to family dinners or gatherings
Constantly looks fatigued or under stress
Can’t stay on the phone when you call
Snaps at you or others for no reason
Has stopped seeing close friends
Never invites anyone over
Common Abuser Excuses:
S/He’s making too much of this.
S/He’s under severe emotional stress right now.
S/He’s just trying to get your attention.
S/He’ just hasn’s been themselves lately and I’m trying to get him/her to seek professional help.
You’ve known me for a long time, do you actually believe I could be capable of being abusive toward anyone?
She’s going through a change of life, or he’s having a midlife crisis.
I just blew up one time, or I didn’t mean it.
We’re having a few problems, but it’s nothing we can’t work out.
This is a family matter, mind your own business.
I had a little too much to drink and didn’t know what I was doing.
What Friends Can Do:
Listen to your friend. Be supportive, nonjudgmental and believe what they tell you. Take the abuse seriously. You can help a great deal by letting them know that you care.
Refer your friend to the YWCA Crisis Line 406.542.1944 or 800.483-7858. An objective party may help the victim notice the patterns of abuse and realize that the abuse is not their fault and can offer them resources to get help. Various programs in the community such as YWCA Pathways, UM SARC and SSTEP are available for information, referrals and support. Encourage your friend or family member to take advantage of these services, and offer to accompany them to access these services, but let your friend make the call. They will reach out for help when they are ready.
Explore and support your friend’s choices. Do not attempt to “come to the rescue” by solving your friend’s problems for them. The abusive partner may have so much control over their life that they have lost confidence in their ability to make important decisions. Help them explore their options and support them in the choices they make, even if you disapprove of their decisions.
Do not attempt to intervene with the abusive partner. If the abuser discovers that the victim has discussed the abuse with someone, it may enrage them to further or more serious assaults. If confronted, the abuser is most likely to lie or justify the actions by blaming the victim. Batterers need professional counseling to successfully deal with their abusive and controlling behaviors.
Think of safety. Abusers can be violent and unpredictable. Meet with your friend in safe, neutral locations. When violence occurs in your presence, call 911 immediately. Urge your friend or family member to consider the safety of themselves and of their family and help them develop a safety plan.
Take care of yourself. Investigate and read about the dynamics and complexities of domestic violence. There are no simple solutions. The abusive situation may not be immediately resolved and your friend or family member will need your concern and understanding. Do not put your own safety at risk.