Presented by BetterHelp.
Abuse and domestic violence are serious issues that cause long-term chronic stress and trauma and can even result in physical wounds and death. If you know of someone or suspect that someone in your life is experiencing domestic violence in their relationship, it’s essential to try to get help.
Although we cannot control the choices of others, doing everything we can to offer support is essential. Read on to learn how to get help if someone you love is experiencing domestic violence or abuse.
What Are the Signs That Someone I Care About is Being Abused?
If you suspect that someone you love is being abused, there are some tell-tale signs to know if you’re right. Abuse can often go undetected for a long time, especially since those who are abusing their partners are very sneaky and manipulative in most cases. They may even appear to be a normal person in any small interactions you have with them. So how can you tell?
Here are some of the most common red flags:
- Your loved one is suddenly cut off from family events and never reaches out anymore.
- When you see them, they look tired or scared.
- Their partner is always answering questions for them or always resting their hand on the person to try to control their behavior.
- Their partner gets overly angry or explosive about other things (such as a football game).
- Your loved one seems to try to bring something up but is cut off by their partner.
- You notice bruises or marks on their neck, sides, arms, or face.
- They shrug off any mentions of the bruises or lack of contact that you may bring up.
- They seem to be not excited about any significant life events such as engagement or moving in with their partner.
- All family outings or correspondence with the person is controlled by their partner.
If these things are familiar, you may be dealing with a situation of abuse.
Why Do People in Abusive Relationships Stay?
To understand how to help someone who is in an abusive relationship, it’s essential to know why they aren’t just leaving it. From an outsider’s point of view, it seems like the rational choice, right?
Well, there’s actually a lot more that goes into the situation than might meet the eye. Often, abuse is formed on the basis of power and control over someone. An abusive partner will often limit their interaction with the outside world, degrade them into believing they deserve to be abused and it’s their fault, and may even convince the person that they’re the abusive one.
When someone is stuck in an abusive relationship cycle, they may truly believe that they just need to grow and get better, and their partner will start to treat them better. It can be easily spotted from the outside, but from the inside, the person’s mental health is taking a spin, and they don’t know how to tell what’s right and wrong anymore.
Another common tactic of abusive people is to “love bomb,” which means that they will profusely apologize every time they do something very abusive and may even start to act better for a while. They’ll give their partner flowers, say sorry, give more affection, and give the abused person everything they wanted before.
Once they stop, the abused person may think something along the lines of: “well, they stopped giving me love, so it must be my fault. I just need to do better, and they’ll be loving to me again.”
So, how can you help them?
How Can I Convince Someone to Leave an Abusive Partner?
Helping someone who is going through abuse is not a cut-and-dry process. It differs for every situation. Most importantly, you need to realize that no matter what you do, there is a chance the person will continue to go back to or stay with the person who is hurting them. The only true way for someone to leave is for them to continue to make that choice for themselves.
However, there are some things you can do to help make this easier for them, including:
- Offer them resources, such as the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
- Suggest a therapist to them or find a therapist that they may want to contact.
- Don’t get angry or cut them out if they continue to go back to their abuser. Be empathetic to what they’re going through.
- Document proof of abuse to potentially assist them later if they decide to press charges.
- Offer them a place to stay if they need to get out and stick to your word.
- Offer them information and books about abuse and violence that they can read when they visit you.
- Consider taking care of their children for them when needed.
- Help them look for ways to be independent.
- Continue to tell them that the behavior of their partner isn’t normal or okay and that you believe they’re being abused, even if they don’t believe you.
- Accept their boundaries.
- Model a good and healthy relationship when they’re around you and your partner.
In the end, all you can do is try your best. You may not be able to convince someone to leave their partner, but you can make them feel more supported and loved from the outside. Isolating them more can only hurt.
What Resources Are Available?
Many resources are available for those going through domestic violence. We’ve listed a few below:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- The National Sexual Assault Alliance and Hotline
- Resources for teens going through abuse
- Resources for women of color going through abuse
- LGBTQ Survivors of Abuse site
- This site with more information on domestic violence
We hope this article can help you determine whether your loved one is struggling with abuse and what you can do to help. Remember that it’s not your fault, and abuse can happen to anyone at any age and at any time. The best thing we all can do is continue to love and support those going through it and provide resources. In the end, it is the person’s final choice to get help or not.