So many people said to me, “I never would have known. You hid it so well…” I am not fooled. Maybe I hid some things better than others, but I am not naïve enough to believe there were not signs that others saw and still turned aside. With the level of violence and control I was enduring, it was impossible that it didn’t grow like weeds through cracks, even if the cracks themselves were very delicate. Little by little my personality was choked off, and that should have been the first sign to them that something was going very wrong, along with cutting ties with family and friends. This was initially the most obvious sign that something was happening to me, as I was always the type of person to surround myself with and spend long periods of time with the people I loved. They somehow overlooked both my absence and my extreme introversion that resulted from the onslaught of verbal abuse before he turned to physical violence. Instead of reaching out, they talked about me viciously behind my back, according to the things they did admit to, so I can imagine how much worse it really was.
After I stumbled upon the above video posted by Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, I made my way to Neighbours, Friends & Families’ Helping Abused Women page. Here you can find not only the lists of signs I have directly quoted below, but there are suggestions of ways you can show an abuse victim support, and points of concern and consideration that are imperative to keep in mind. Also, you will be able to navigate links that address safety planning, speaking to male abusers, and links to affiliates and further information. Between these two sites alone, there is a wealth of information. While set up for Canada (specifically the province of Ontario), the information here is relevant to all of us.
These lists are no way meant to be all-inclusive of what you will see signaling possible abuse occurring, but they are a good start and cover many of the most frequent signs that will emerge as evidence of harm. They are not dependent on any demographic and can occur across all racial, religious, socio-economic, educational, gender, sexual orientation, and age groups. You may not be witness to all or even many of the signs, but as the video points out, when you bring together a group of family and friends and have them go over the list, the number of signs present can be staggering. Don’t let this be a posthumous study in hind-sight. Don’t wait until someone you love has been hospitalized. Read over this information and share it openly with others. Do not be afraid to start a conversation about these signs with others, as abuse is perpetuated in silence. Ignoring it will not make it go away.
The first group is a list of warning signs frequently exhibited in abusive relationships. The second group is indicative of greater danger of severe bodily harm and possibly fatality being imminent. As with previous posts where I have used these lists, I will denote the signs that should have been seen in my case in red text. The abusive relationship I was in exhibited 32 out of 38 signs below alone. I cannot imagine had I gone through and included signs of financial, spiritual, and sexual abuse. The entire post would be red.
====================== QUOTED from Neighbours, Friends & Families ======================
Warning Signs of Abuse
You may suspect abuse is happening to a neighbour, friend or family member, but do not know what to do or how to talk about it. You may worry about making the situation worse, or be concerned about what to do. By understanding the warning signs and risk factors of woman abuse, you can help.
If you recognize some of these warning signs, it may be time to take action:
• He puts her down
• He does all the talking and dominates the conversation
• He checks up on her all the time, even at work
• He tries to suggest he is the victim and acts depressed
• He tries to keep her away from you
• He acts as if he owns her
• He lies to make himself look good or exaggerates his good qualities
• He acts like he is superior and of more value than others in his home
• She is apologetic and makes excuses for his behaviour or she becomes aggressive and angry
• She is nervous talking when he’s there
• She seems to be sick more often and misses work – not even with all the injuries did I miss work
• She tries to cover her bruises
• She makes excuses at the last minute about why she can’t meet you or she tries to avoid you on the street
• She seems sad, lonely, withdrawn and is afraid
• She uses more drugs or alcohol to cope — I used food.
Signs of High Risk
The danger may be greater if:
• He has access to her and her children
• He has access to weapons – he did drug and weapon sales for various agencies
• He has a history of abuse with her or others
• He has threatened to harm or kill her if she leaves him: He says “If I can’t have you, no one will.”
• He threatens to harm her children, her pets or her property
• He has threatened to kill himself
• He has hit her, choked her
• He is going through major life changes (e.g. job, separation, depression)
• He is convinced she is seeing someone else
• He blames her for ruining his life
• He doesn’t seek support
• He watches her actions, listens to her telephone conversations, sees her emails and follows her
• He has trouble keeping a job
• He takes drugs or drinks every day
• He has no respect for the law
• She has just separated or is planning to leave
• She fears for her life and for her children’s safety or she cannot see her risk
• She is in a custody battle, or has children from a previous relationship
• She is involved in another relationship
• She has unexplained injuries
• She has no access to a phone – he would take all the phone with him out of the house
• She faces other obstacles (e.g. she does not speak English, is not yet a legal resident of Canada, lives in a remote area) hard-of hearing (you can also include any other chronic medical condition or disability here)
• She has no friends or family – he cut them all off