If you believe your friend or roommate is in an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to know what to do and say or how to help them. They may make decisions about their relationship – such as staying in it, leaving and returning to the relationship, or blaming themselves for the abuse – that you don’t agree with. Despite these differences, it’s important that you support your friend without judgement, empower them to make decisions for themselves, and build trust so they will feel confident coming to you for help.
Common Abusive Behaviors
Knowing how to spot warning signs of dating abuse is an important part of understanding healthy versus unhealthy relationships. According to love is respect, common behaviors that suggest abuse may exist in a relationship include:
- Checking their phone or email without permission
- Frequently insulting them or calling them names
- Extreme jealousy or anger
- Keeping you friend or roommate from spending time with others
- Making false accusations
- Physical abuse or threats
- Pressuring them or forcing them to have sex
How You Can Help
While every situation is different, the following suggestions from love is respect outline ways to support a friend or roommate who is in an abusive relationship.
- Be supportive, listen, and allow them to make their own decisions without judgement – even if you don’t agree with them. Remind them the abuse is not their fault.
- Help them create a safety plan.
- Document abuse as much as possible, listing dates and descriptions. Be sure to keep the documentation in a safe place inaccessible to the abuser.
- Identify resources that can help your friend or roommate, such as school or community services or law enforcement. Ask your friend or roommate when they would like you to involve outside help.
- Minimize the risk to yourself by adding a lock to your bedroom door, keeping a charged phone with you at all times, and remaining vigilant about your surroundings.
If you or someone you care about is in abusive relationship, please call our 24-hour crisis line at 317.920.9320 to chat with an advocate about your situation and options.