Anyone, regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation, can end up trapped in a controlling partner, who dictates how they should behave and act. While most of these controlling partners are well able to hide the damage they cause, this type of relationship is considered a form of emotional abuse. If someone you know is being controlled by their partner, one of the best things you can do for them is to listen to them in an understanding way. Call her in for a conversation and be willing to help her get out of the relationship, if that's her decision. Always remain alert and continue to offer your help, even if the person rejects your first efforts.
Method 1 of 3: Talking to the Person Being Controlled
Step 1. Make an appointment with the person so they can talk in person
Choose a private and secure location. Avoid talking about it in messages or via email, as it is possible that the abusive partner has access to her computer and phone.
Avoid giving this encounter too much importance, otherwise the person (or her partner) may be suspicious of your motives. Just say, "Hello, I miss you. Can we meet one of these days, to catch up?"
Step 2. Express your concern
When you are together in a private place, tell the person, whether they are a friend or relative, that you are concerned about them. Justify your concern based on the evidence that led you to believe she is trapped in an abusive relationship.
- Say, for example, "I noticed that John always makes fun of you when you say you want to look for a better job. He should support and encourage you."
- Do not hesitate to continue to express your concern in future meetings with the person if the problem persists.
Step 3. Avoid bad-mouthing the controlling partner
Your friend or relative may love you despite the mistakes made by him. If you attack your partner, the person may become defensive and end the conversation.
- Also, don't criticize the person for remaining stuck in that relationship. She won't want to talk to you if she feels judged.
- Instead of saying, “Juliana is insufferable, I can't believe you let her control everything you do,” say something like, “I noticed Juliana doesn't want you to see her friends anymore on the weekends. does that make you feel?".
Step 4. Listen to what the person says to you
Let her lead the conversation. Try not to judge her and not to interrupt her. Focus on understanding her side and what she has to say.
- Take the person seriously, no matter what they say. Nobody understands the relationship better than she does.
- Ask good follow-up questions to make sure you really understand what she's saying. Try saying, "So, do you feel like you should stay in this relationship even though you're unhappy?"
- Tell the person that their partner's abusive behavior is not their fault. Say something like, "Don't beat yourself up for this. I know it's easier said than done, but it's his fault, not yours."
Step 5. Offer help to your friend or relative trapped in this situation
Ask him what he needs. Let him know you're on his side, supporting him in whatever it takes.
- Don't make assumptions about what the person wants or needs. Let her tell her what kind of help will be best for her.
- This type of conversation may have to happen several times over time. Be constant instead of insistent.
- Your friend or relative may not be ready to leave the relationship, even if they are abusive. If that's the case, let him know that you'll always be there to help him.
Method 2 of 3: Finding Ways to Help
Step 1. Help the person find resources to deal with the situation they are facing
Find articles and other reading material about abusive relationships and seek professional help in your area. Share this information with her.
Don't give the person tracts or books to read if they don't have a safe, private place to keep them. Likewise, do not send her information via the internet, as it is possible that the abusive partner has access to her computer and phone
Step 2. Be willing to help the person get out of the abusive relationship
Many people remain in abusive relationships because breaking up can be extremely complicated. If your friend or relative wants to break up but doesn't know what to do after that, offer your help, whether it's storing personal belongings, taking them to a psychologist's appointment, or providing a home while they look for a new apartment.
Don't promise more than you can deliver. After offering help with something the person is in need of, they will depend on you to move forward
Step 3. Continue to support the person even if they don't choose to leave the relationship right away
Sometimes it can take a long time for a person stuck in an abusive relationship to work up the courage to leave their partner. Always be available and willing to help your friend or relative, even if it is painful to see them in a bad relationship.
- Your support and solidarity can mean more to the person than you think.
- Avoid pressuring her to leave her partner, otherwise she might pull away from you. The decision to leave the relationship must come exclusively from her.
Method 3 of 3: Identifying the Signs of an Abusive Relationship
Step 1. Observe the insulation patterns
A controlling person most often discourages or prohibits the partner from spending time with friends and family. In addition, a controller displays exaggerated jealousy when he sees his partner among other people.
- Beware if your friend or relative has become less and less available after entering a relationship. This is a possible sign that the partner is trying to isolate you from other people.
- If the person tells you that their partner doesn't approve of their friendships and social cycle, the chances that they're stuck in an abusive relationship are high.
Step 2. Watch out for excessive criticism
A controlling person tries to lower the partner's self-esteem in order to gain control of the relationship. A common way of doing this is by criticizing your partner's appearance, personality, or abilities. Criticism can be explicit or implicit, in the form of ironic compliments or unfunny and offensive "jokes."
Notice if your friend or relative's partner says things like, "You'd look so beautiful if you lost a little weight" or "Why are you going back to school? You never did well in school."
Step 3. Keep an eye out for manipulative behaviors
Does your friend or relative's partner make him do things he wouldn't normally do? Pressure, threats, and guilt are some of the common tactics used in abusive relationships to control your partner's behavior.
- If the person has suddenly changed personality, try to find out if they are being manipulated by their partner.
- Phrases like "If you ever leave me, I'll probably kill myself" or "I do everything for you and you leave me out of your plans" are characteristics of an abusive relationship.
- Don't forget that the person's safety or even their life may be at risk, even if they don't explicitly say so. The more difficult it is for her to make contact with you, the more serious the situation can be.
Step 4. Notice whether your friend or relative's partner is suspicious or nosy
A controlling partner always wants to know what the person is doing and who they are with. If your friend or relative has to call their partner frequently to let them know where they are, or if they have to ask permission to make plans with other people, they are likely stuck in an abusive relationship.