Friends help Detect Domestic Abuse
Eva was a spirited soul, happy and enthusiastic. But lately, she was going through withdrawal. Wherever I called her over for coffee or just a chat, she was hesitant. There was excitement in her voice initially when she received the invitation but there was always a second guess and a follow-up call where she made us excuses not to come.
We jokingly started to call her “The no-no girl” “ Plan Cancelling Conservative” etc. But something was always off. Right in front of our eyes, her demeanor sharted to alter. The colors changed and she gained a massive amount of weight. Once a fashion-forward girl, now was dull and gloomy with a hoodie and a pair of sweats wherever she went.
I and my best friend called her husband one day to invite them to a picnic. We called him separately but the conversation was almost identical. He was upset and irritated hearing of the invite. He mentioned that our friend Eva has no interest in socializing, and no matter how much he requested her to mingle she is the one who opts out.
This rang like an alarm, cause Eva would never say no to seeing us. Later that summer Eva was seen by another fiend mentioning that she was clad in all black with a scarf around her face. She came to her son’s school event for 30 mins and left in a hurry. There were bruises on her palms and on her fingers. I called Eva to ask about the incident, but she ignored my question repeatedly.
I got a call around 2 Am on October 11. That was the most nerve-wracking conversation one could possibly have. The man on the phone was a stranger and he called me as my number saying it was on the call list. I and my husband drove to the spot and found Eva crying and trembling. She was sitting in the parking lot with the security patrol beside her. She was not stable enough to speak.
After bringing her back to our house it took us 7 full days to get a coherent explanation of what was going on.
Abuse is not always physical. Emotional and mental abuse can suppress a human being and do massive damage. She went through strategized emotional abuse and was broken from inside. She lost the will to live and prolong. In the last stage came the physical abuse where she was pushed to her limits and she left home in the middle of the night.
Once a happy, youthful charming girl, now was a shattered human, losing self-esteem and hope. Years of mistreatment made her doubt herself and her abilities. Isolation and proving her as aloof, self-centered and unsocial made the issue go deeper.
One and a half years have passed since that day. Eva is now a business owner, running her shop and helping our in a local school, teaching designing to underprivileged children. She has her own one-bedroom apartment, divorced, happy and again smiling: - Comments Jean.
Many times when an abuser and the abused are common friends in a circle and have families who see them often it becomes hard to identify abuse. The abuser keeps a close eye on the abused and who they meet or speak with. This behavior may seem to “Be caring” or labeled as “Protective”. But under the label lives a dark secret.
If these seem repeated and the abused seems uncomfortable and isolated then it better to reach out or show genuine interest to relieve the tension and intervention is needed.
People experiencing intimate partner violence often stop participating in activities they used to enjoy, show less interest in hobbies and stop attending events they used to love. They may slowly stop calling or limit meeting their friend and families. They may check their phone more often while away from their partner. It is also not uncommon for people subjected to intimate partner violence to make an excuse to leave an event after receiving a call or message.
Manipulation plays a key role. Often the abused are made to believe that, they themselves are at fault and the temper loss of the abuser is due to something they did or told not to do.
Marked changes in behavior are warnings. If you see them, pay attention, ask questions, and make sure your loved one knows you’re willing to listen. Help is out there and skilled advocates are available to listen, guide and rehabilitate.
Numbers and organizations who support domestic abuse victims and survivors:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: Resources for all survivors; 24/7 hotline at 800-799-7233 and 800-787-3224 (TTY)
National Sexual Assault Hotline: Resources for all survivors of sexual assault; live chat online and 24/7 helpline at 800-656-4673
Office on Women’s Health: Resources by state; call the helpline at 800-994-9662 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday
Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN): Resources for abuse and sexual assault survivors; 24/7 hotline at 800-656-HOPE
Anti-Violence Project: Specialized resources for LGBTQIA+ and HIV-positive survivors; 24/7 hotline at 212-714-1141
Crisis Text Line: 24/7 text chat line for individuals in crisis in the United States and Canada; text HOME to 741741
Names and details have been changed to keep anonymity