Family and Friends of Victims of Domestic Violence
Recognizing the warning signs of domestic violence and abuse. It's impossible to know with certainty what goes on behind closed doors, but there are some telltale signs and symptoms of emotional abuse and domestic violence. If you witness any warning signs of abuse in a friend, family member, or co-worker, take them very seriously.
General warning signs of domestic abuse
People who are being abused may:
Seem afraid 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.
Warning signs of physical violence
People who are being physically abused may:
Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents.”
Frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation.
Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (e.g. wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors).
Warning signs of isolation
People who are being isolated by their abuser may:
Be restricted from seeing family and friends.
Rarely go out in public without their partner.
Have limited access to money, credit cards, or the car.
The psychological warning signs of abuse
People who are being abused may:
Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident.
Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn).
Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal.
Speak up if you suspect domestic violence or abuse. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.
DO's and DON'T's
Adapted from: NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
Ask if something is wrong. Express concern. Listen and validate. Offer help. Support his or her decisions.
Wait for him or her to come to you. Judge or blame. Pressure him or her. Give advice. Place conditions on your support.
Talk to the person in private and let him or her know that you’re concerned. Point out the things you’ve noticed that make you worried. Tell the person that you’re there, whenever he or she feels ready to talk. Reassure the person that you’ll keep whatever is said between the two of you, and let him or her know that you’ll help in any way you can.
Remember, abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help to get out, yet they’ve often been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing.
If you have a family member or friend that may be in an abusive relationship and you need help in starting the conversation, call a Safe Space advocate to discuss your concerns and for information and resources on how you can help. Our advocates are available 24 hours a day on our Crisis and Information Hotline: 406-782-8511.