You might not get to see first hand how your friends and their partners interact behind closed doors. But there are some clues to watch out for if you suspect a friend might be in an abusive relationship. If you see some of these warning signs, we have some tips to help you start a conversation about it. If you think your friend is in danger, or you want more resources to give her*, help is available 24 hours a day from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors that one partner uses against the other while they're in a relationship together and sometimes even after the relationship is over. The pattern of abuse and coercion is directed at gaining and maintaining control over the victim.
People who are being abused may:
- Seem afraid of or anxious to please their partner.
- Go along with everything their partner says and does.
- Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they're doing.
- Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner.
- Talk about their partner's temper, jealousy, or possessiveness.
If you suspect a friend is in an abusive relationship, talking with her about it can be hard. The most important thing you can do is to let her know that she has support and that there are resources available to help her get safe. It's important to remember that you can't "rescue" your friend from an abusive relationship. Although it is hard to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately the person being hurt needs to be the one who decides to do something about it. Don't be afraid to tell her that you're concerned for her safety. Consider these conversation starters:
* National statistics show that domestic violence primarily impacts women. Feminine pronouns are used in this document when referring to victims of domestic violence and masculine pronouns are used when referring to perpetrators. We are using gender-specific pronouns to keep the writing simple and clear, but we recognize that the issue is not a simple one. Sometimes the perpetrator will be female while the victim will be male. And, domestic violence can happen in same sex relationships as well.