Red Flags/How to Support a Friend

Red Flags / How to Help a Friend

While every relationship is likely to have its ups and downs, it is important to keep in mind the warning signs or “red flags” of an unhealthy or abusive relationship in case a rough patch in your relationship has become more intense. Keep in mind that seeing one or two “red flags” in your relationship does not mean it has become abusive, but these behaviors could indicate an unhealthy pattern in your relationship that you may want to further examine.  

Unhealthy and abusive relationships can happen to anyone, and it is not your fault. If you see red flags in your relationship, seek out professional counseling to help you make decisions about your relationship moving forward. Everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship.  

There is no typical profile of an abuser, but these are some common behaviors to look for if you are concerned your relationship may be abusive: 

  • Feeling afraid of your partner 
  • Feeling isolated, embarrassed or humiliated  
  • Losing your friends 
  • Extreme jealousy, possessiveness, or controlling behavior
  • Feeling embarrassed, put down, ashamed, or guilty 
  • Feeling nervous or sick to your stomach when your partner is irritated, frustrated, or angry 
  • Feeling as if your partner touches you in ways you wish they wouldn’t 
  • Being threatened by your partner 
  • Abuse of other family members, children
  • Verbal or emotional abuse 
  • Blaming you for anything bad that happens 
  • Being physically hurt 

If you are concerned about a friend in an abusive relationship and want to help, you can support them by: 

  • Believing them when they share. 
  • Listening to what they tell you and avoid making judgments or giving them advice. 
  • Validating their feelings and letting them know their reactions are normal. 
  • Avoiding victim blaming and try not to ask them unnecessary questions. 
  • Taking their fears seriously, you don’t know what their partner is capable of doing. 
  • Offering help such as providing a safe place to stay or calling the Greater Richmond Regional Helpline together. 
  • Being an active, creative partner in their safety planning effortHelp them evaluate all risks and find a safe place to go if they decide to leave. 
  • Supporting their decisions. Abuse is about power and control, so one of the most important ways you can help a person in an abusive relationship is to consider how you might empower them to make their own decisions.  

Call the Greater Richmond Regional Helpline at (804) 500-2755 if you want to talk to someone. A confidential advocate is available 24/7 to help you.