Also, here’s a very important thing: a lot of abusive people will not show their abusive side at all in front of non-victims. Perhaps your friend claims her mother is emotionally abusive, but when you meet her mother, the woman is very sweet and generous and makes for great conversation and even treats you guys to ice cream or something.

Abusive people are alarmingly good at coming across as perfectly good people when they’re not alone with their victims,. They can flip like a switch between being scary and being amiable. Some might even go the extra mile to turn people against you, making it seem like you’re just being selfish and they’re not at fault. The two-faced act may not always be intentional, but that doesn’t make it any less damaging. In fact, it can make things worse because people may not believe you and you may not get the support you need.

So, if someone tells you that their parent/significant other/etc is emotionally abusive, and your first thought is “But they were so nice when I met them!”, this is probably what’s happening. Please don’t dismiss them just because you may have had a positive experience with someone that makes their life hell when you’re not looking. Listen to them.

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