I have a close friend that I feel I am losing, and I do not know what (if anything) I should do about it. My friend and I have daughters the same age (6-7). She has one daughter, I have three kids. My two oldest are in college. Our kids (my 7 and her 6) are close friends. Any advice will be deeply appreciated.
I know I need to put my daughters and husband first and foremost, but what do you do for a friend who is in a dangerous, abusive relationship and relies on you?
Her live-in boyfriend (and the father of her daughter) doesn't work and isn't looking. Except for a few very short periods, they have both been unemployed for a very long time. She has had two jobs in the last couple of years, but quits before long – a matter of weeks – she just quits coming in. They make ends meet with food stamps, public assistance for their daughter, and with money left to her when her grandma died. It isn't a huge amount and won't last forever, but they don't plan ahead. She owns her house the same way – given to her by her grandmother. Years ago, she had a great full-time job, but quit when she had her daughter.
Her boyfriend is abusive. Verbally most of the time, emotionally much of the time, physically sometimes. There are times she can't go home or be home with him because of the abuse, but she always goes back and she always excuses his behavior. He's 40+ years old, and spends his time reading comic books and talking about how he's going to write a book/ screenplay /whatever. He drinks and lies about it. He's really dismissive and cold to their little girl. I have never seen him hit her, though.
They both sleep all day, as does their daughter, and are up all night. They don't go to bed until most people get up. Their daughter isn't in school yet, but they know they have to put her in next year (state law). She says that this is because they are both unemployed and don't have a schedule, but I've been there (without a job), and know that isn't it. It isn't drugs, as far as I know or suspect.
We (hubby and I) try to do what we can, taking her to the doctor when he won't – even when she's been seriously ill; meeting her in the middle of the night when they fight, etc.
She lost her grandma last year, and things went from bad to worse. She refuses to get up, refuses to join friends during the day for activities for the kids, etc. Noon is "too early" to get up, and she gets irritated if anyone invites her to anything before the afternoon, or later. I know she's depressed, but if she wants to do something, she will get up and do it if it is of interest to her. Our kids don't see each other much anymore, because our daughter is in bed at 8:30 or 9:00 and their's won't go to bed until 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning. When they do get together, her daughter is seriously moody because of sleep issues.
Monday night, she was complaining on FB that she can't get their daughter to sleep at a decent hour. For the first time ever, her friends, including me, didn't say, “poor thing”, but offered loving solutions to the problem. Some of us have several children, and have faced this before. Several of us mamas took the time to share what had worked for us, and did so in a non-judgmental way. Her response was to lash out and accuse everyone of saying she was a bad mom, and cursing at us. This really was not the case, and a few people told her that, but she was very angry and defensive. I didn't say anything, but was hurt, as were the other mamas – you could tell from the mamas who did say things. Everyone was taken aback and hurt.
Wednesday night, she couldn't get her car to start, and texted us. We went to help after we finished dinner. Her car was in the driveway, her daughter was running around, in amongst the jumper cables, screaming and crying that her daddy had said that he was going to take her away and never let her see her mommy again. I tried to comfort her, and my friend acted like nothing was wrong.
Our daughter was extremely agitated and upset to see all this. Her boyfriend was nowhere to be seen – he was fine having another man fix his car. He was clearly in the house, but wouldn't/didn't come out. Eventually, my husband gave up. He couldn't try everything to jump it, because it was dangerous with the little one running around the jumper cables; and because our own daughter was getting upset. So we left and went home. We try to shelter our daughter, but this isn't the first time she has seen this kind, and it really upset her. They are so unpredictable.
On the way home, I became really cross, mostly with myself. Somehow, it's okay for my husband to stand outside in the cold night air, trying to fix her car while her BF sits inside in the warmth? Why was it okay for my child to see this dysfunction? I was so mad at myself for the last part. Our daughter shouldn't be seeing this, and I will make sure it doesn't happen in the future.
Suddenly, I realized that we have probably been enabling her her to more easily stay with an abusive man. I haven't seen him abuse the little girl, because if I had, this would be cut and dried.
At the same time, I'm afraid that she won't have anyone at all if we don't help. She doesn't have many people in her life willing to help, as he's driven away many people. I'm not sure what to do here. Thank you for any advice. I just don't know what to do next. I worry sick about her little girl, and I worry about her staying.
Thank you so much for any insight.