when something seems off.
Being able to notice warning signs of abuse or unhealthy behaviors in our friends or classmates relationships is a huge responsibility. Sometimes we notice things but we don't want to bring it up because we think it's none of our business, or that's just what couples do. In reality, our friends need us to notice the warning signs of abuse so that it doesn't escalate. Noticing a warning sign doesn't automatically mean there's abuse occuring, but it's important that when we do see something we speak up and let them know they don't deserve to be hurt in any way, and that you are there to support them.
Some warning signs your friend may be experiencing abuse
Lower self esteem/depressed
Drastically changing their appearance/behavior
- Stops hanging out with friends/family
- Blames themselves for abuse
- Social media presence changes
- Attached to phone when not around partner; afraid to miss text/call
- Sensitive to touch
- Heavy makeup/long clothing to cover up
- Makes excuses for dating partner
- Slacking in responsibility (school, job, etc.)
- Says they can't talk to/hang out with certain people because of their partner
This is one of the biggest warning signs of abuse. It can start off subtle, like a dating partner telling the other what clubs or activities they're allowed to join, making them check in constantly, or making them feel guilty for spending time with friends, family, or other activities, claiming that the only thing that should matter is their relationship. Isolation is a major way of controlling a dating partner, so it's important that if you notice your friend becoming more isolated that you do whatever you can to show that you are still there for them.
Lower Self Esteem
Lower self esteem
If you've seen a drastic change in your friends self esteem through changes in their appearance, personality, mood, or behavior, it may be a good time to check in with them and make sure they are feeling supported. Often an abuser will use verbal or emotional abuse to lower their dating partner's self esteem, saying things like, "no one else could ever love you" or "you're lucky I'm with you". This can also often cause your friend to blame themselves for the abuse ("if only I had texted them back sooner" or "maybe if I wasn't so late, they wouldn't have done that")