Happy Friday y’all.
So my previous blog was all about defining domestic abuse and today, I want to go over some of the signs of abuse.
Just to recap, domestic abuse is abuse that occurs between two people aged over 16 and are personally connected to each other.
It can involve physical and sexual violence, threats, controlling behaviour and emotional or economic abuse.
Now before I get into the signs, you might be wondering, “Steph, why is it important to know this?”
Because obvvy this blog is all about the good, the bad and the ugly in dating and relationships, and it don’t get much uglier than DA. Case and point, did you know that it takes up to 50 instances of domestic abuse before a person gets the effective help that they need to leave an abusive relationship. That’s a hard number.
And despite the advances we have made to support domestic abuse victims, only 5% of employers have a domestic abuse policy.
Guys, that’s a shocking figure and it’s made worse by the number of victims working from home (or living at work, depending on how you view it…) So here’s me drawing on the little things I’ve been learning about abuse. I hope it helps.
Quick disclaimer tho: I want to be clear – we shouldn’t presume anything. Please don’t make assumptions about people’s situations. I’m sharing some common behaviours that could indicate that a person is at risk of being abused, but nothing should be viewed in isolation. These indicators could be signs of other personal issues going on in a person’s life, so please, do not do damage to your friendships or relationships by jumping to conclusions.
Got it? Okayyy let’s go and let’s flow….
– Having low self-esteem, being extremely apologetic and meek.
– A change in a person’s attitude e.g. becoming introverted, becoming anxious, being frightened, tearful or aggressive.
– Sudden and sustained changes in behaviour.
– Conduct out of character with usual personality.
– Single/repeated injuries with unlikely explanations.
– The same explanation used repeatedly for different injuries/occasions.
– Bruises or injuries that look consistent with having been punched, choked, pinched etc. This includes black eyes and bruised marks at the neck or sprained wrists.
– Being secretive about their home life.
– Making excuses about their behaviour e.g. falling, tripping, being accident-prone or clumsy, and appearing with injuries that do not match the the explanation due to how severe the injury is.
– Referring to his/her partner’s temper but not disclosing the extent of the abuse.
– Excessive drug dependency including drinking alcohol, taking drugs or smoking.
– Having symptoms of depression, such as sadness or hopelessness, or loss of interest in daily activities.
– Talking about suicide, attempting suicide, or showing other warning signs of suicide.
– Having very few close friends, being isolated from family, relatives, friends, church members and co-workers, or being prevented from making friends.
– Having to ask permission to meet, talk to or do things with other people.
– Having little to no money available. They may also have limited access to bank cards and bank accounts.
– Wearing clothes inappropriate to the weather conditions e.g. heavy winter clothes in summer or changes in the amount or type of make-up worn.
– Changes to how they use of the phone/email e.g. a large number of personal calls/texts, avoiding calls or a strong reaction to calls/text/emails.
Work Related Behaviours
– Sudden changes in the quality of work/service, or changes to performance at work/church for unexplained reasons, despite a previously strong record of ability or performance.
– A change of work patterns e.g. being frequently late, asking for last minute leave or holiday, needing to leave early, being overly concerned about timekeeping or a desire to stay late even though there is no work-related reason to do so.
– Repeated absences or repeated hospital visits, often unexplained.
And that’s where I will leave it.
It goes without being said, but of course this list is not exhaustive, it is simply a start.
Each case, each instance, each person will be different.
As I said at the top of the blog, please do not make any assumptions about a person’s situation based on the existence, or absence, of any of these signs.
Speak to them and listen to them.
Create an atmosphere of understanding.
Let them tell you their story in their own words and hear what they are saying.
And please please please, if you need help, advice or support, go to a domestic abuse specialist service. There are so many and they are so great.
You can start by downloading the BrightSky app by the App Store or GooglePlay. It’s free, it’s chocked full of helpful links and advice and it’s discreet.
Next week I’m back with probably one of the most common topics I have heard this year: love during lockdown – finding it, maintaining it and securing it.
Until next time…
If you need help and advice, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline can always be called, for free and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247. The Men’s Advice Line is another confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them. Telephone: 0808 801 0327 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Yeah babes, I’m about links.