The Signs & Cycle of Abuse
The Signs of Abuse
Victims of abuse can have a very difficult time talking about their experience and reaching out for help. They can experience a range of emotions, including fear, denial, embarrassment, depression, and anxiety. It's important to familiarize ourselves with the signs of abuse so that we can better identify them in our family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Understanding the signs of abuse enables people to better support survivors in getting the help they need.
In addition to the above reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, abusive behavior also occurs in a cycle that can trap the victim. For more information visit the (National Domestic Violence Hotline).
Stress/Trigger: Some stress or trigger will put a strain on the relationship. The abuser may start putting down their partner, making them feel worthless, that they don't deserve better, that they won't find any better, and that they're lucky to have the abusive partner.
Violence: The victim will often start walking on eggshells and try to modify their behavior to appease the abuser. The stress will continue to build until the abuser eventually becomes physically violent.
Make Up: The abuser then jumps into make-up mode, and will often apologize profusely, beg for forgiveness, plead for the victim to stay with them, say how sick they are and want to change, buy the victim gifts to apologize, and promise it will never happen again.
The amount of time between incidents can be days, weeks, months, sometimes even years. The abuser will almost always apologize and beg the victim to give them another chance, and will be on their best behavior until another stress or trigger starts the cycle again.
Supporting Loved Ones
Supporting Loved Ones
One of the hardest things is to suspect someone you care about is being abused, and feeling powerless to help or stop it. Thankfully there are ways that you can support them without putting them in danger or emotionally closing them off to you (The National Domestic Violence Hotline).
It's important to remember that the person being abused is a victim. Now this may seem obvious, but our tendency is to try to make sense of the situation by shifting blame onto the person being abused. From an outside perspective, the solutions seem obvious- if you're being abused, you should leave that person and file a report with the police immediately. We've gone over why someone may stay with an abuser in the Signs and Cycle of Abuse, so hopefully you have a little more understanding of the dynamics of abusive relationships- why someone may feel trapped and not ready to report them, or even accept that their relationship is unhealthy.
The best time to talk to your friend about your concerns and suspicions of abuse are in the stress/trigger and violence stages of the abuse cycle. They will likely be more receptive to your concerns and willing to open up in these stages as opposed to the make-up phase. When you talk to someone about their abusive partner, there are certain things you should try to avoid doing to make it the most productive conversation possible.