We all know mates who get into relationships and suddenly our friendship with them takes a backseat – sometimes people focus more energy on the potential loves of their lives (annoying, but accurate).
But, what happens if your friend is dating someone abusive? How can you help them? How can you tell? It’s an incredibly complex situation for anyone to be in, as we don’t want to point fingers but we also don’t want to see our mates hurt – ever. So to ease into it, let’s start with acknowledging some signs that your mate might be in an abusive relationship.
Side note: this is for signs of non-physical abuse, which can be trickier to spot.
THEY MAKE EXCUSES FOR THEIR PARTNER’S BEHAVIOUR
If you find your friend constantly defending their partner’s questionable behaviour, the red flags should be flying all over the place.
In the same sense, if someone feels the need to defend their partner for acting like a knob, you have to assume that they’re either used to it or that it’s a common occurrence. If your mate’s equally as surprised by their partner’s shitty behaviour as you, then perhaps it’s a one-off and there may not be as much urgency to act. Maybe.
THEY DON’T HANG OUT WITH EVERYONE AS MUCH
Alright, this one’s tricky because as previously mentioned, sometimes your amigos stop hanging out with you as much because they’re gross and in love and you’re officially chopped liver to them.
But occasionally, their diminishing appearance at social situations might be at the hands of their partner. If your friend’s ever mentioned that their partner doesn’t like them hanging around some of their friends, take note – it could very well be a sign of social abuse and definitely a reason to be wary.
THEY ACT DIFFERENTLY WHEN THEIR PARTNER’S AROUND
Have you ever known a friend who was super outgoing, bubbly and just a general hoot-and-a-half when they’re around their friends, but who also acts subdued when they’re out with their partner?
If someone’s changing their behaviour to suit someone else, there might be a lot more to the story. Obviously it’s a case-by-case situation, but if you reckon something’s up, it wouldn’t hurt to ask them why they act the way they do with a casual, off-the-cuff approach.
THEY SEEM DOWN ON THEMSELVES
In a similar vein to friends changing their behaviour to appease their partner, if you notice that your mate lacks the self-esteem that you’re accustomed to, that could be worrying.
Abusive people can often break their partners down for their own selfish reasons and it can take its toll quickly – while you suss out the situation, just ensure your friend knows how much they’re worth and how great they are in the meantime.
THEIR PARTNER CALLS THEIR PHONE CONSTANTLY
Couples call each other, that’s kind of the deal when you sign up to this love business. However – however – there are some pretty clear signs that your mate is being harassed.
If they look at their phone and seem visibly distressed or they have an adverse reaction to being called by their partner, it’s likely that they don’t want to be contacted that often. The reasoning behind the calling is key too – if it’s because your friend’s partner has been locked out of their apartment and they need to get in because they left the oven on, they’re probably going to call excessively. But if it’s because your friend has been ‘out for too long’ or your friend’s partner ‘needs to know where they are at all times’, they could be in trouble. Keep your eyes and ears peeled.
Of course, there are so many other signs to look out for and it’s impossible to list them all, but usually if you’re not getting a good feeling about something, there’s a reason. Keep your friends close, even if they might seem like they’re not as invested in the friendship as they used to be.
If you need some more info, hit up Our Watch’s No Excuse For Abuse campaign.
If you or someone you know has experienced any kind of abuse, sexual assault, domestic or family violence please call 1800RESPECT or visit www.1800respect.org.au.
If you feel you are in any kind of danger please call 000.