Every parent who has a relationship with his or her child knows when their daughter or son isn’t feeling well, has a change in mood, feels stressed or nervous about something or doesn’t want to be bothered. Friends also are good about observing this wide range of emotions as well. Sometimes there is more happening to your daughter or friend then the upset stomach excuse for the umpteenth time or the accidents that seem to happen almost weekly to her face, neck, and arms. So what more do you need to know to be sure that she is being abused?
She lies a lot. It seems that every time you ask her to do something she makes up an excuse as to why it wasn’t done. The truth of the matter is she could be thinking about a lot of things like ending her turbulent relationship, but doesn’t know how.
Distance. At one time the two of you were quite close, but it seems these days she is more involved with her man. When you invite her to family functions, make plans to visit her or ask her to meet you somewhere, she seems to never have the time. If the only thing that has significantly changed in her life is becoming involved in this new relationship, then chances are he is doing or saying some things that are keeping her busy. However, if there is many other things going on in her life it doesn’t necessarily mean that she is purposely keeping away from you.
Rapid increase or decrease in weight. When one is under stress, most people will eat more or less. If it wasn’t that long ago that she was obese, and now she is skinny, that may be great for her, but watch closely for more signs other than a new diet program or workout routine. If she says she isn’t doing any of these things, but continues to lose the weight, try to probe more about how she is losing the weight. Also, if you notice that she is rapidly gaining weight, find out what she is eating more of these days to put on the weight without directly commenting on her weight gain. If she says she hasn’t been doing anything different, most likely she is eating more for a variety of reasons including worrying over her new boyfriend.
Questions. When someone is easily irritated over any question you ask, he or she has something to hide. If you know that you have asked the same questions you always ask like, “How are you? What are your plans for the weekend? How is your boyfriend?” and she practically bites your head off or her tone fluctuates like she is ready to curse you, then things aren’t doing too well with her. Keep the lines of communication open by asking her is there anything she would like to talk about.
Flinching. This behavior tends to happen when someone has been hit, choked, pushed or beaten repeatedly. She is often nervous when you suddenly put your hands out to hug her or wave your hands and arms around her even if it’s just to pick up something. You will want to point out her behavior to her and mention that if she needs to talk about anything you are available to listen.
Moody. Whenever you see her she is often sad or angry looking. She may be uptight. When everyone else is laughing about something, she may not be. When you speak to her, she may seem as if her mind is off into another world, these are all signs that something more is going on with her and you will need to stay close to her to find out what she is hiding. You can stay close by calling her more often, sending her a thoughtful message in the mail, blessing her with a gift or inviting her to lunch.
Isolates herself. You would like to make conversation with her, but she doesn’t have any free time to talk because every time you look up she is reading a text on her phone, answering her cell phone, emailing her boyfriend or running errands for him. By this point she may be smitten with him, but in time this turns into controlling behavior. You will need to point this out to her. She may act as if nothing is wrong, but somewhere in her mind she will remember what you said.
Invitations. When you or the family invites her to events, she often turns them down because he is dominating her time and sometimes she will stay away for a long time until a bruise heals. Frequent last minute cancellations usually mean that the night before or day of the event he may have harmed her.
Conversations. When you converse with her it seems as if she has nothing going on in her life, but her boyfriend or husband. You bring up something about him and she is quick to defend him even when he is in the wrong.
Habits and Hobbies. You notice that she is doing things that she didn’t normally do. Maybe she is cursing more, drinking, smoking or doing drugs; usually these habits are influenced due to her worry about being in the relationship or encouraged by him because he is doing them.
When some or all of these signs prove correct, you will need to do the following:
Talk to her about the harmful things you see happening. Of course, most victims of abuse will deny them.
Next, listen to anything she is ready to talk about and ask her how it made her feel.
Provide her with information about dating and domestic violence and go over the information with her.
Remind her that you love her and if she needs a plan of escape you would be willing to help her.
Conduct your own research on how to help victims of abuse escape these types of relationships.
Document everything she has told you and any information you know about this person.
Lastly, avoid confiding in others about your daughter or friend’s issue not everyone understands. There are many people who place blame on the woman for every instance of abuse. They often say mean things about victims and aren’t compassionate. Unfortunately, it drives some victims to kill themselves. Watch what you say and don’t use statements like “if I were you I would…” The truth is you aren’t she and there is no guarantee that you would have done anything different.
By Nicholl McGuire