Statistics say that 1 in 4 women are survivors of abuse.
However, it is well known that that it is massively under-reported. I believe it’s closer to 1 in 2, if not even more than that.
But even based on the 1 in 4 number, you have most definitely crossed paths with someone who has been abused. The problem is that a lot of survivors don’t even know that what happened to them is actually abuse. Plus survivors carry so much hurt, shame, and guilt that they don’t want to openly talk about it.
So with all of that, how do you know if someone you’ve crossed paths with is a survivor?
It’s more than just keeping an eye out for bruises (although that’s a good practice to be in, too).
It’s important to recognize a variety of signs. Disclaimer: These signs alone are NOT signs that someone is being abused. There may be other things happening in their life. But still – pay attention, recognize patterns.
Signs and symptoms of possible abuse:
- Change in behavior, whether more outgoing and risky than normal, or more withdrawn and quiet than normal.
- Aggressive outbursts that happen more and more often
- Paranoid and fearful, jumpy
- Always checking in with their partner (different than in a healthy relationship)
- Never goes out without their partner, no true independence.
- Change what they wear because their partner didn’t like their choices
- Increased anxiety
- Developing a drug/alcohol problem
- Extremely apologetic, especially with things that aren’t even their fault
- Becomes reserved and distant, doesn’t want to talk about home life at all
- Over justification of sketchy behavior from partner
Another important thing to look out for are signs of self neglect.
- dehydration, malnutrition, untreated or improperly attended medical conditions, and poor personal hygiene
- hazardous or unsafe living conditions
- unsanitary or unclean living quarters (e.g., animal/insect infestation, no functioning toilet, fecal or urine smell)
- inappropriate and/or inadequate clothing, lack of the necessary medical aids
- grossly inadequate housing or homelessness
- inadequate medical care, not taking prescribed medications properly
This is just the tip of the iceburg of what’s needed when it comes to showing up for survivors. But simply recognizing the signs, being a safe space for them, showing that you care – that can truly make all the difference.
Please share this with your leaders, pastors, bosses, coworkers. This is so incredibly important and could quite literally save a life.