Note: this was written as a Facebook post for a Malaysian audience in the first Covid lockdown in March 2020
Abuse isn't limited to beating the hell out of people with a cane or strap.
Abuse can be verbal.
"Did you hear Tim got a promotion? Why don't you get a promotion?"
"Julie is married. You're almost 16/21/23/29. Nobody will want you."
"What do you mean, you're gay? We don't do that in our family!"
"You're too fat. This is a good time for me to help you diet."
"You're a failure. This is a good time for me to make you study really hard."
"You always make the wrong choices."
There are people who live with really horrible emotionally abusive people, nasty types who don't leave physical bruises but who run their prey down remorselessly.
I'm already seeing a spike in people becoming sick because of their toxic parents and partners. I'm hoping to God there isn't a spate of suicides.
What can you do?
Don't say, "They love you really." Because toxic people are shitty and that's not love talking.
Don't offer 'fixes' because toxic people are about power and control. They can't be managed when you're all shoved in the same house together.
Do say, "You are a good person. I care for you. Other people care for you too. This situation is horrible but it's not going to last forever. When this is over, we talk about how to get you out of this situation. In the meantime, lock yourself away as much as possible, know I'm here for you, and we keep talking."
Then, LET THEM VENT. Let them say horrible things and just be there for them. Don't be shocked or tell them off. Living with toxic people is poison, so letting them vent lets them expel part of that poison.
If you think they're actively suicidal, and you're in Malaysia or a place where it's safe to report, call your local police. They can go and get your friend and take them to hospital. Or call your local council office and ask for help. You can also try suicide call centres like the Befrienders or whatever they are in your country to ask for emergency numbers.
If you think they're actively suicidal and they're in a place where there is little help or where asking for help is dangerous, read this post on Suicide Counselling In Developing Nations
I hope this helps.
Credit: hand is from Shutterbug on Pixabay