How to tell if a friend is an abusive relationship

MediaWise recently attended a bloggers’ forum hosted by The Nappy Collective. The concept behind it was to raise awareness about family violence and to encourage bloggers to get educated on the issue and to raise awareness through their blogs. It was a terrific evening with speakers including Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, Detective Sergeant Rod Jouning and Nappy Collective co-founder Sandra Jacobs. The evening was MC’d by Gian Rooney.

One of the issues that made MediaWise sit up and pay attention was the lack of real understanding about the signs of family violence. We do have the advantage of working with McAuley Community Services for Women, a specialist agency focusing solely on women and children escaping family violence and women who are homeless.

This is not our usual blogging subject but we feel it is so important that we hope you will share.

Six signs that a woman is an abusive relationship

Your friend is jumpy

  • If a woman you know changes from being bubbly and outgoing to being jumpy, anxious and mistrustful of people around her, take notice.
  • She has to ask permission to catch up
  • Happy partners trust each other. If a woman isn’t allowed to catch up with friends, go shopping or have time outside the home even for herself, talke notice.

How does she describe her partner?

  • Does she say he controls her, what words does she use to describe him and his actions? Words are important as they can be nuanced into an appeal for help.

She cancels catch ups.

  • This is a real tell tale sign that things are not right. An abusive partner will not allow his woman to do her own thing. Or she may be sporting a black eye or deep bruising which she cannot mask and does not want to be seen in public.

She stops wearing make up

  • Another frequent sign of abuse is when a woman stops wearing make up or changes the colour of make up. This matched with a different style of clothing is often a sign that she is being told what to wear rather than being able to choose for herself.

She is abrupt on the phone.

  • Could she being monitored? Is her partner listening in? These are both possible especially if a woman used to be telephone chatty.

What should you do?

Find a way to ask her face to face whether everything is fine. Watch her reactions. Familiarise yourself with what family violence is and remember family violence is a crime. Critically, perpetrators are usually someone the woman knows, and often her partner or former partner.

  • Physical: Hitting, pushing, throwing/destroying objects, hurting pets, pushing, shoving.
  • Emotional: Making their partner appear unstable, mind games, blaming, crazy making, undermining their partner¹s self confidence including their parenting abilities.
  • Sexual: Unwanted jokes or sexual comments, manipulating or forcing their partner to engage in unwanted sexual activities.
  • Financial: Controlling access to money or excessively monitoring expenditure, expecting their partner to manage a hopelessly inadequate home budget, making all the financial decisions.
  • Verbal: Snide jokes, name calling, put downs, threats, shaming, abusive language or use of sarcasm.
  • Social: Criticism in front of friends, monitoring phone calls, insisting on reading text messages, humiliating publically, hindering contact with family or friends.
  • Spiritual: Ridiculing their partner¹s core beliefs including belief in their sense of self, selectively using religious texts to control and dominate their partner or insisting that their partner follow the religion of the other.