Domestic violence, especially long-term violence, is not always obvious. Generally speaking, abusers tend to want to keep their actions a secret and not let any evidence of abuse get out.
However, evidence of abuse will eventually surface, even if it’s fairly subtle. If you notice the following in a friend, family member, or coworker, they may not just be acting strange – they may be harboring a violent secret in their private life.
Signals That Can Point to Domestic Violence
They Talk About Their Partner’s Abusive Behavior. If a friend says negative things about their partner, they may not just be letting off some steam – they might be issuing a cry for help. Know what constitutes as domestic violence, including what constitutes emotional and sexual abuse.
In some cases, the victim may not even be aware that their partner’s behavior actually entails domestic violence. These situations are complicated, and ultimately a friend or family member may be the one who has to take action against the abuser.
Frequent Injuries or “Illnesses.” Obvious injures like black eyes and abnormal bruising are one of the most recognized signs of domestic violence. Victims, however, are well aware of this. If they want to hide the abuse from the people they know and love, or if they are forced to hide by their abuser, you may not ever see such injuries.
Why would someone deliberately hide being abused? They may be ashamed and embarrassed, or could even feel that they are somehow to blame. Or they may be afraid. Whatever the situation, being questioned by people they work or go to school with is something they strive to avoid.
One thing to watch out for if you are suspicious but have no proof of abuse is someone who frequently calls out for illness or makes elaborate excuses for injuries.
The Victim Is Isolated By Their Partner. Say you have been trying to get a hold of a friend for months, but every time you call your friend up, their partner answers and refuses to let you speak to or hang out with your friend. Kind of worrisome, right?
Abusive partners typically exert control over victims in many different ways. They may want to control where the victim can go, who they can hang out with, or what they do for the day.
Unusual Personality Changes. Victims may change their behavior to appease their abuser and avoid violence, if possible. Seeing a sudden shift in public personality or behavior may signal that there are serious private issues.
A victim may be more withdrawn than usual. However, sudden bouts of anger or depression may also signal that something within their relationship or home life is deeply affecting them.
Avoiding Conflict. In a similar vein, a victim may try to avoid all conflict and appease everyone around them, no matter how small the situation may be. Over-friendly behavior, over-indulgent attention, and a quick change of heart when conflict arises could speak to an overall fear of conflict, something that can arise from being a victim of domestic violence.
Pay Attention, But Only Take Action When You’re Really Sure
No one should have to live as a victim of domestic violence, and everyone should strive to stamp it out in our country.
That being said, it is important to remember that every single one of the above signs could also be caused by an array of other things. Unrelated trauma, natural changes in behavior, and accidents can easily be misinterpreted as signs of domestic violence, especially if an alleged abuser is not well known among the alleged victim’s friends, family, or coworkers.
Many people want to help or feel morally obliged to address the issue, even if they are not 100% certain that domestic violence is happening. Unfortunately, this is often what leads to false accusations.
If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence or know someone who has, contacting a lawyer immediately is of vital importance. These types of charges are incredibly serious. Not only do they come with severe criminal penalties, but also a stigma that can remain with the accused for his or her entire life. Accusations and charges must be fought quickly and aggressively or the best possible outcome.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense. He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.