One of the most difficult human experiences we can encounter is witnessing the abuse of a friend or loved one. Millions of people around the world experience abuse every day, and among them are the silent witnesses; watching as the men, women and children they once knew and loved are destroyed by the evil and manipulative machinations of an abusive partner, spouse or parental figure.
From physical abuse to emotional abuse, most of us will experience the pain of witnessing the abuse of a friend or family member in our lifetimes. If you’ve found yourself witnessing an abusive relationship, it is possible to help them escape. It’s a delicate situation, however, and one that has to be approached with the utmost caution, understanding and know-how.
Why abusers hurt people.
Abusive people are as ranged and varied as any normal human being, but their actions are far from normal, and they are never, ever justified. Abusers believe they have the right to control others either because of their inferiority or superiority complexes. Either way, they enjoy the feeling that power gives them, and they find joy in exerting that power over others by any means possible.
Your typical abuser believes their own needs or feelings should take priority over their partner’s, and they use abusive, manipulative tactics in order to dismantle the equality in the relationship and destroy the other person’s self-worth. Abuse is a learned behavior, most often picked up in childhood, but it is also something that can be learned over time as negative behaviors develop in correlation to romantic or relational experiences. Outside sources like alcohol addiction can also help bring-on or exacerbate these behaviors.
What are the signs of an abusive relationship?
When it comes to abuse, the signs aren’t always easy to spot. In our society, abuse is still seen as something taboo, something to be ashamed of. For this reason (along with a myriad of others) those in abusive relationships often work hard to conceal the struggles they’re experiencing. If you suspect your friend or loved on is in an abusive relationship, look for these signs.
An insulting partner
It is not normal for a partner to constantly belittle or insult their other-half in front of others. This is abusive behavior and often one of the first and most telling signs that your friend or loved one might be dealing with a dangerously manipulative and controlling relationship. Insulting a partner or spouse in front of friends is a means of destroying self-esteem, thereby keeping the other party in-check through insecurity, fear and low self-worth.
Fear of making the other party angry
Walking on eggshells, likewise, is not a normal part of a healthy and loving relationship. If your friend or partner is constantly worrying that they’ll upset or make their spouse angry — it might be a sign of something serious going on.
Depression, anxiety, personality changes
Sudden (or even gradual) signs of depression and anxiety can often be a telling symptom of deep issues occurring at home. Personality changes, too, can be an indication that your friend or loved one is dealing with something deeply serious, personal and heartbreaking. If your loved one has suddenly stopped calling and acting like they used to — check in on them.
There’s no excuse for cruel behavior, but that’s exactly what victims of abuse do — make excuses for their partner’s horrendous behavior. It doesn’t matter if the abuse is physical or emotional, the abused person will always find a way to excuse and internalize the irrational and vicious behavior of their spouses and partners.
Jealousy and possessiveness
Noticing that your friend’s boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife is extremely jealous or possessive is one of the biggest tale-tale signs that something serious is bubbling beneath the surface. These emotions manifest through behaviors like escalation, emotional manipulation and even outright physical abuse. A means to control, jealousy and possessiveness are some of the most dangerous aspects of an abusive relationship.
Has your friend suddenly dropped off the radar, never to be seen again? Are they missing time with family and failing to show up for the things they once loved? Isolation is another common sign of abuse and one of the ways by which abusers keep their victims under control.
Bruises, black eyes and arms in slings don’t just happen. The body manifests trauma in these physical ways in order to warn ourselves (and others) that we have encountered something dangerous. If your friend can’t seem to explain where their injuries are coming from, it might be because of a dangerous situation at home.
How to help someone in an abusive relationship.
Helping someone in an abusive relationship isn’t always easy as just getting them to pick up and leave. It’s a delicate process that takes time and planning, as well as a substantial amount of compassion and understanding. Once you’ve confirmed that your friend or loved one is stuck in an abusive relationship, use these techniques to help them free themselves.
When it comes to codependency, understanding is often the first step in healing. by: E.B. Johnson Romantic relationships always have a bit of complexity to them, but codependent relationships are especially complicated. Though these relationships are obviously dysfunctional, unsatisfying and even abusive – the injured parties involved keep coming back for more despite all the red flags and warning signs.