To change tack a bit here…
I’m not going to focus on my story this time. Instead I’d like to focus on listing some red flags to watch out for as an outsider looking in.
The chances are someone you know will be suffering at the hands of an abuser. There are 3 reasons why they won’t come forward.
- They are too scared.
- They don’t know they are being abused.
- They are attached to their abuser or they are co-dependant and don’t think they can function without them. (See Stockholm Syndrome) All premeditated on the abusers behalf and part of the control and manipulation. So what to look for. There are many red flags and warning signs that could mean someone you know is in an abusive relationship. Again, as with the other red flags, if you spot one of them it doesn’t necessarily mean abuse is taking place but if there seems to be a few similarities take note and be vigilant. 1. Apparent over happiness. Of course everyone is thrilled to be in a new relationship. That’s normal. But when someone is over the top with repeated sickly announcements of finding their soulmate and how wonderful said soulmate is and announcing every ‘sweet’ thing their new partner has said or done take notice. Especially if it carries on over a prolonged period of time past what would be normally be considered the honeymoon period. And especially if that kind of talk is something you know wouldn’t be normal for that person (ie they’re usually quite private or dont like attention) 2. They start avoiding you or stop getting in touch with you. Again, there’ll always be a certain amount of excluding others when a new partner is on the scene but after the honeymoon period things should start to get back to normal. 3. Everything they write on social media they now tag their partner in even if it isn’t anything directly to do with partner. Narcs need to be included and in control of their victims. 4. Alternatively they go quiet on social media. Another potential red flag that their partner is isolating them. 5. Their friends list drops dramatically for no apparent reason. Narcs will either convince or make their victim ‘ get rid’ of people in their lives. Usually the ones that seem quite savvy and could potentially see past their mask. They will do this outright by telling the victim they have to get rid or coersively “oh i fell out with them, if you keep them as a friend it feels like you’re condoning their behaviour towards me” 6. They start to change their appearance according to what the narc see’s as appropriate. If the narc dresses in a quirky way watch out for the possible victim to start dressing the same. Again control. Yes choosing what you wear is control! 7. You see behaviours that aren’t expected from that person. I.e. they become aloof or they become extroverted or introverted or bitchy or drama queens or quiet or loud. Basically anything that you feel isn’t ‘that person’ should be viewed as a red flag. 8. Their opinions and beliefs change to fit with the narcs. Where that person once had very strong views and opinions they now might have done a complete loop to become the opposite of what they believed. (Note- their opinions and beliefs will not in fact have changed but they now have to follow the narcs lead and do as he says) 9. Every conversation, fb post, tweet involves their partner. Gone are the days when they spoke of their friends or their kids or whatever. Now it’s all got to be about keeping their partner in the spotlight and making sure everything (Yes everything) is about them. 10. The potential victim develops a nervous twitch or tic. Or they appear to always be anxious or rushed and can’t wait to get away from you or the conversation. They’ll avoid you if they see you coming so they don’t have to stop and speak. (When you’ve been isolated you know you’ll be in big trouble if the narc finds out you’ve been talking to someone he doesn’t want you to) So there’s a basic list. Be vigilant. Remember the old saying – if something (a relationship) seems too good to be true it probably is. Now the hardest bit. ….what can you do if you suspect someone is being abused? In truth there is not a lot you can do unfortunately. Remember the above reasons for the victim not coming forward. All you can really do is post articles on social media pointing out red flags etc and what a narcissist is. Also, posts of local domestic abuse helplines can be helpful. The victim will probably not know what they are dealing with. Most don’t until they get out and do their research. What they will know however is that something isn’t ‘quite right’ although they might not equate it to their (seemingly wonderful) partner. They will know they feel different to how they used to feel but might not be able to identify the anxiety or fear they are suffering from. Do things indirectly. I wouldn’t advise approaching the person outright for the reasons above again. (Why they havent come forward) post articles on social media, start a conversation about a ‘friend’ of yours who is being abused, get some leaflets from local domestic abuse centre and hand them around. Basically do everything in your power to educate them and let them know that abuse takes many forms. Finally, please do not judge the person thinking how they have changed for the worst. The chances are they are silently screaming out for help but know it looks like the complete opposite and that they are the ones walking away from you. Trust me, it may look like they’ve dropped you from their life but the reality is they’ve never needed you more.