It isn't unusual for people to change their behaviours when they enter a relationship. For example, you may see fewer pictures of nights out at the bar and more pictures of their new love popping on their social media. They may not be in contact as often as building a relationship takes some time and effort.
But do you have a friend who is just 'different' or completely disappeared from your social circle? You might want to take note.
Maybe you have noticed she seems a little more timid when she does come out with you guys. She seems distracted, her laughter forced. She's wears clothing that covers more skin than she had before.
It is hard to know what is going on behind closed doors and you aren't likely going to catch her tweeting the 'real' story. Below are 20 signs
that someone my be in an abusive relationship. But probably the most important thing to remember is that victims of domestic violence and its perpetrators have no specific demographic or orientation. It can happen to just about anyone. And I don't want to offend or mislead so please note that I will be using female pronouns for the victim and male for the perpetrator but that is obviously not the entire picture when it comes this issue. Domestic violence can be experienced by any sex and in any relationship configuration, female on male, male on male, female on female. My pronoun choice is only for the sake of simplifying this piece, not this issue.
1. She neglects her beauty habits relative to her pre-relationship routine.
She may stop tanning or getting her nails done. She may lose or gain weight. His judgments are lowering her self esteem and it is likely he is doing it all as a means to prevent other men from 'wanting' her or to make her feel like she isn't worthy of being wanted.
2. She may have physical wounds.
Bruises, scratches, cuts, jammed fingers, black eyes, a broken nose. These are usually pretty obvious signs of violence. Abusers are usually smart enough to inflict most of these wounds in places that usually remain unseen in public.
3. Her clothing may have changed to hide evidence of physical abuse.
Tank tops to long sleeve blouses, for example. It could also be a tactic used by the abuser to hide her from other men.
4. On the flipside of appearance changes, a victim’s looks may “improve.”
She has been molded into a trophy or a prop for him. If she doesn't look perfect, she is unacceptable to him. He make my snide comments about what she eats or how much she weighs.
5. She is significantly less social.
She doesn't make small talk in the break room anymore and disappears at lunch instead of eating with her friends like she used to. She avoids guys and conversation in general. You won't see her out for girls' night anymore and she doesn't go to parties or social events without him.
6. She's noticeably less confident.
She's no longer talkative or the life of the party. She's lost that electric spark that was her personality. She "blends in" now. When he's around, she looks for his approval before she doesn't anything.
7. Her body language changes.
She doesn't walk into the room confidently, she makes a beeline straight for the corner. She avoids conversation and walks around with her eyes downcast. He doesn't want her to talk to anyone.
8. She's always distracted or preoccupied.
She seems to be constantly walking on eggshells. She's distant even when she's 'engaged' in conversation. She always seems to be checking the clock or her phone. When she talks, it is like she's trying to choose the right words before she says them.
9. She's attached to her phone when she's not near him.
Her phone is always in her hand or at least visible to her because if she misses a call or a text from him, she's in serious trouble when next they meet.
10. She only talks about her relationship on a superficial level.
When asked how they are doing, she'll give very short, sometimes one word answers like 'fine.' If you questions a victim of abuse one of three things could happen:
First, if he finds out about you asking questions, he may convince her that you are the bad person. Secondly, she could internalize the questioning just like the rest of her toxic relationship or lastly, she may start to see that she has lost control of her own life and start her healing journey towards leaving him.
11. Her social media presence changes.
She's no longer on social media or she's far less active. He's screening her online activity to make sure she doesn't become involved with people he doesn't believe to be appropriate. They may now have joint Facebook account.
12. Her communication habits change.
She ignores your calls, texts or emails because she's only allowed to talk to certain people or do certain things. She may even change her phone number. If she does reply every once in a while, her conversations are short and superficial.
13. Her relationships break down.
Her relationships disintegrate. Relationships with her family are limited. The people that know her best are threats to him. He's isolating her.
14. She avoids everything related to the past.
Life before him doesn't exist. She doens't talk about anyone or anything that could trigger an interrogation from him. He makes her feel guilty about past relationships.
15. She's disinterested.
She quits all her favourite activities. If her significant other is not interested in the activity or can't be by her side, she doesn't do it. The risks that someone will look at her or that she'll interact with someone are too great and not worth the suspicion or punishment.
16. She's always in a hurry.
If he's not with her, she shouldn't be there. If she does need to go somewhere alone, she's in and out quickly.
17. She often has puffy or red eyes.
She's sleep deprived from arguing or worrying all night. She's been crying. You heard her crying in the washroom or you've caught her in the act. Her eyes fill with tears when you ask how she's doing.
18. She lies.
She can't make it in to work and tells the boss she's got the flu. Really, she's at home nursing a busted nose or cleaning up the damage he did to the house when he went into a rage. The biggest lie she tells is that she's "happy" when you can tell she's anything but.
19. She's strapped for cash.
Even if she is the breadwinner, he controls her finances. He'll use the money as he wishes or manipulate her into using it only for things he deems fit.
20. She fakes her emotions.
She forces smiles. She forces laughs, then glances in his direction to see if it was okay to laugh. He insults her and makes her cry as a way of destroying her self esteem.
If you know someone who is displaying any of these red flags, don't ignore it. Your instincts are likely spot on. The longer she stays, the more 'normal' the abuse will become to her and the harder it will be for her to leave. If she brushes you off and shuts her out, remind her that there are places to get help. Look up the number for your national domestic abuse hotline and share it with her. Try to do it in such a way that he will not be able to find out-- don't text it to her. But don't lose contact and don't give up. She needs someone fighting for her on the outside.
If you're reading this and are in a violent relationship, what he's been telling you is not true. It is not your fault and you are worthy of so much more. You can take back your existence.