Signals to search for in general:
• Blues that seem unexplained
• Any kind of fear of your friend’s partner: does your friend become nervous or anxious if he forgets to consult with his partner? Does she seem to tremble in his presence? There can be many subtle signs of fear.
• Isolation: Does your friend reject social invitations? Do you often miss work, school or other opportunities? Or, does it come out only if your partner joins?
• Your friend wears clothes that are apparently designed to cover bruises or scars. Does she wear long sleeves when it’s 75 degrees outside? Do you wear sunglasses indoors?
• Limited access to money, credit cards or car
• Significant changes in personality and mood: Is your friend less sociable than before? Does she
seem depressed or anxious? Do you have low self-esteem when you trusted her?
Signs you should look for when you are with your friend and her companion.
• Hypervigilance of his partner by his partner: does it seem that his partner watches him closely and monitors him closely?
• Abusive language
• Lack of eye contact
• Abuse of a person speaking of abuse: Does your friend’s partner respond on his behalf, asks for food, or does he usually talk when it is his turn to speak?
• Abuse: Although it may seem obvious, think of a language or potentially abusive movements that you might think are just a “unique thing” or a “joke”. They could be much more serious than that.
• Abuse of a person who maintains physical abuse: Does your friend’s partner insist on a limited physical distance between the two at all times?
• Victim’s shyness: Does her friend seem shyer in the presence of her partner?
• Your friend follows everything that her partner says and does.
Signs you should look for when you are with your friend without your partner.
• SMS and excessive calls: is your friend’s partner constantly recording? Or, does your friend make a point of calling him and texting him constantly, either secretly or outdoors?
• Bruising with explanations that do not match the type of hematoma: think about your friend’s explanation of the bruising he may have. Is it logical, physically? Or something seems to be off?
• Lack of social commitment: does your friend seem distant?
• Non-characteristic defense
• Your friend’s comments about your partner’s mood, jealousy or possessiveness, even if they are casual or joking.
What to tell your friend if you suspect he is in a violent relationship.
If you suspect that your friend is in an abusive relationship and you would like to confront him, meet him in a neutral environment. “Ask questions that are open and curious,” says Regina Tate, an accredited professional counselor who specializes in anger and domestic violence and who offers online therapy services at Talkspace. Tate suggests questions like, “What does it look like when you and he do not agree?” Or “I know that relationships are not always good, [but] sometimes I worry about you. Do you need to talk?”
Suggest useful resources, such as support groups, without instilling fear. And, no matter what, have an open mind. “Respect her,” says Dr. Garay. “Tell her you’re there for her, do not judge her, do not condemn her, do not victimize her.”
However, you can let him know that you are concerned about his safety. The Allstate Foundation suggests using the following wording to facilitate open conversation:
• “I see what is happening with you and _________ and I want to help”.
• “You do not deserve to be treated this way: good husbands and partners do not say or do that kind of thing.”
• “The way he treats you is wrong, men should never hit or threaten the women they love.”
• “I’m worried about your safety and I’m afraid it will really hurt you next time.”
• “Promise me that if you need to talk, you will come to me.”