How to tell if someone you know is in an abusive relationship

If you feel something is off, it probably is.

Sarwat Fatima Sarwat Fatima Nov 25, 2016
In most cases, women find it very hard to open up and accept the fact that their partners are abusing them. Photo: Shutterstock/ IndiaPicture

You and your friend used to hang out together all the time. You were pretty inseparable. However, after she started dating a hunk from her gym, you started to see less of her. Gradually over the weeks, your daily coffee meets turned into a monthly affair. For the longest time, you assumed that she was too busy in her romantic life, to pay any attention to you. So, like a scorned lover, you moved on--seeking company of other acquaintances. You did not bother to call her or check up on her, because her coldness bruised your ego.

Now, imagine this: what if, after almost six months, you accidently bump into your friend. And instead of her usual cheerful self, she looks haggard and downcast. After much probing you get to know that her hunk of a boyfriend is not only a male chauvinist pig, but also violent. Will you be able to forgive yourself for abandoning her, when she needed you the most? No, we don't think so.

Such incidents are pretty common. In most cases, women find it very hard to open up and accept the fact that their partners are abusing them. So, here are a few signs you should watch out for, if you suspect your friend is getting abused in her relationship.

Physical Wounds Give It Away
Unlike in the movies, victims of physical abuse don't always sport purple bruises under their eyes. So, if it's not on the face doesn't mean it's not there. If you see any sign of injury on her body that does not look like a mosquito bite, just ask. Scratches, lacerations, and jammed fingers are tell-tale signs of violence. Also, if your friend finds it hard to explain her injuries--then, you need to get to the bottom of it.

She Looks Scared All The Time
When a person is unhappy or scared, it shows on their face. If you are out having brunch with your friend, and she seems really jumpy--you must ask her what's wrong. For instance, if she constantly looks over her shoulder, gets alarmed at rapid movements, or flinches when you or someone else she knows touches her, it's a signal that you need to step in.

Also read: Is your partner micro-mistreating you? Here are the 5 hidden signs

She Gets Really Quiet When Her Boyfriend Is Around
Your otherwise chatty friend suddenly draws herself into a shell. And whenever you ask for a reason, all you get is a lame excuse. If that's been happening for a while, then maybe you should have a chat with her. Imagine this: you and her are having a conversation and she suddenly clams up, starts stuttering, or gets usually quiet. You follow her eyes, only to realize that she is watching her boyfriend make an entry. And in his presence, she turns into a docile mouse, which is quite unlike her. This should be enough to trigger those alarm bells.

Her Wardrobe Has Completely Changed
Your friend once kept her wardrobe well-stocked with tank tops, dresses, and shorts--courtesy her love for fashion. But after getting into a committed relationship, she has turned to wearing full-sleeve shirts and floor-length skirts. While you may be treating her transformed look like just another phase, chances are she is trying to hide her wounds. So, watch out.

She Fakes Happiness
You are her friend so you should be able to tell when she is faking it. So if you ask her how she is doing, and you get a very fake, superficial response in return, you must know that something is off. Not only that, if she suddenly starts lying a lot or starts exaggerating her responses, even to the most normal questions look her in the eye and intervene.

Also read: Are you dating a psychopath? Here's how you can tell


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