How Can You Help if You Know Someone Is Being Abused? We understand that witnessing or even suspecting abuse can be traumatic. Maybe you feel you shouldn’t interfere in other people’s business. Or you’re not sure if your friend or neighbor or loved one is being abused and you don’t want to falsely accuse anyone. Maybe your sister denies that her husband is hurting her—even though the signs of abuse are there. Or perhaps you are simply afraid for your own safety or the safety of your family. All those feelings are understandable. Still, you must try to help and speak up! First, let’s talk about the signs of domestic abuse.
Recognizing the Signs of Domestic Abuse
We never really know what goes on in other people’s homes, but there are some signs and symptoms of abuse. If you witness these warning signs of abuse in a friend, family member or co-worker, take them very seriously.
Someone who is being abused may:
- Seem afraid or anxious
- Agree with everything their partner says and does
- Constantly check in with their partner to report her whereabouts and activities
- Often receives nasty phone calls from her partner
- Talk about his partner’s temper, jealousy or possessiveness
- Have very low self-esteem
- Be depressed, anxious, suicidal
Someone who is being physically abused might:
- Often have an injury (and say that it was an accident or she’s clumsy)
- Miss work, school or social events a lot
- Wear clothing that can hide bruises or scars
Someone who is being isolated by their abuser might:
- Not be allowed to visit with family and friends
- Is rarely seen without the partner
- Not have access to money, credit cards or the car
- Not be allowed to work
If you suspect abuse, show your concern for your friend and ask if something is wrong. Gently tell her you’ve noticed things (such as bruises or a change in her self-esteem) that you are worried about. Let her know that you are willing to listen and will not judge. Offer to help. Give her the Esperanza Shelter Hotline number: 505-473-5200 or 800-473-5220. Suggest she check out this website and talk to someone to get help.
If you witness serious physical abuse or threats, always call 911 immediately.