Supporting a friend or roommate: what to know

If a friend or roommate is experiencing abuse, they may have unexpected perspectives on issues related to their situation, and you may not always agree with their decisions. They may choose to stay in their relationship even after recognizing it to be abusive, or they may be convinced by their partner’s abusive tactics and blame themselves for the harm.

If they do choose to leave, they’ll likely feel sad and lonely without their partner and may return to the relationship multiple times.

Remember that your friend will only turn to you for support if they know that they can trust you, and building that trust depends on supporting and empowering them to make their own decisions.

You should also consider your own safety and boundaries in the ways you show support — many friends, family members, and roommates of people who experience abuse undergo their own forms of secondary trauma from the experience.

Learning how to identify the warning signs of dating abuse is a great place to start. Relationships exist on a spectrum, and it can be hard to tell when a behavior goes from being healthy to unhealthy (or even abusive).

Learn more about the basis of abuse and ways to reach a safer place.


Common behaviors

that suggest your friend’s or roommate’s partner may be abusing them include:

Checking their phone or email without permission.

Frequently insulting them or calling them names.

Extreme jealousy, insecurity, anger, or mood swings.

Preventing your friend or roommate from interacting with other people.

Making false accusations.

Physical abuse or threats, including commands or intimidation through gestures.

Pressuring or forcing them to have sex.

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