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4 Ways To Spot and Help Those in Abusive Relationships

We all have different opinions about our friends’ significant others. Understanding the warning signs can help us identify if a loved one is in an abusive relationship and know how we can best support them.

I met Annie (name changed) in tenth grade, our first year of high school. We became fast friends, spending time eating lunch together, swapping our favorite eyeshadow pallets, and talking on the phone while we did our homework. Then she got a boyfriend, and shortly after, the phone calls and lunches stopped. I had never liked him, but even more than that, I felt ditched. When we reconnected a few years later, Annie revealed that her boyfriend had isolated her from her friends and was emotionally and sexually abusive. More than anything, I wish I had been a better friend when she needed one, but I also wish I had understood the warning signs instead of being upset with her.

Someone putting their hand on a rainy window with quote "While the root of these emotions, thoughts, and behaviors is the abuse, the effects can be seen in many areas of a victim's life." --Church Educational System

Photo by Milada Vigerova

As an outsider, it can be difficult to identify harmful behaviors in others’ relationships. Oftentimes we may have a feeling that something is off, or maybe someone’s partner just rubs us the wrong way—whatever the feeling, it may be an indicator to look for other warning signs. The article “What Are Signs Someone’s Being Abused?” from the LDS Church Study Manual highlights some of the following red flags people may show when abused: 

  • They are less interested in or withdraw from their regular social activities.
  • They are moodier than usual.
  • They seem fearful or wary of their partner.
  • They engage in harmful or unusual behaviors. 

The article notes that “while the root of these emotions, thoughts, and behaviors is the abuse, the effects can be seen in many areas of a victim’s life.” Be open to hearing survivors’ stories, listening without judgment, and offering a safe space for people to talk about their experiences.  We may not always be able to intervene as outsiders, but we can continue to reach out and offer support. 

 Learn more about the signs of abuse and other helpful resources in the full article What Are Signs Someone’s Being Abused?


—Cala Taylor, Latter-day Saint Insights


Find more insights:

Take a look at the article “Can Christ Really Heal ME? by Naomi Hurd for more insights as to how the Savior’s healing power is available to all his children.

Read more about strategies and resources for survivors of abuse in the article “He Will Give You Rest: Recovering From Abuse” by Amy Conway.

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