Friend with an abusive partner, not sure how to proceed - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 6 Old 04-06-2013, 12:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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. 


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#2 of 6 Old 04-06-2013, 01:06 PM
 
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Tell her,

 

Tell her she is depressed

That her boyfriend is abbusive

and that you will no longer subject your family to it

tell her the only help you can offer her next is to help her get help and or leave that man

 

There is no reason to put your family in a toxic situation. All you are doing is enabling her to continue her life style. What about when her money runs out? Try to reach her now before she is in a more desperate situation.
 

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#3 of 6 Old 04-06-2013, 01:43 PM
 
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mamabunnyboo, support as you face this difficult situation! There is information from the National Domestic Violence Hotline here on how to support a friend who is in an abusive situation which you might find helpful: http://www.thehotline.org/get-educated/how-can-i-help-a-friend-or-family-member-who-is-being-abused/. In addition to helping your friend, it sounds like you are also asking about how you can take care of yourself and your family. Perhaps it would help to write down (just for yourself) a list of your boundaries, what you are and aren't comfortable with. For example, based on your post, one might be "Our daughter shouldn't be see XXX and I will make sure it doesn't happen in the future." And another might be "I can only help between the hours of XXX and XXX." As you think about your boundaries, it might help to come up with a plan of what you will say to your friend when she needs help that crosses your boundaries. Good luck Mama!
 


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#4 of 6 Old 04-07-2013, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much. Reading what you wrote has given me clarity. I've already done some of the things you've suggested, and thinking about it, feel that I have done all I can right now. 

 

A few months ago, in the middle of the night, I met her at an all-night diner after they'd had a huge fight, and I told her that she was depressed and being abused, that he was clearly abusive, and that there are ways out. I suggested a place to stay (a shelter in town, or her sister's house), and said we'd help with child care. She said she knew that he has problems, and knew that he drinks too much, but said that she's going to change himgreensad.gif I told her that in my experience, people can change, but that change comes from within, not from other people. She agreed, but still, she's going to change him. Ugh. 

He doesn't like her to be around anyone who doesn't like him, and so she tends to cut off people who don't accept him. Her few family members and friends (me included) usually try to steer clear of talking about her situation. But for whatever reason, recently, with his behavior escalating, those around her have started challenging her on things. She isn't taking it well, though, as she exploded at everyone last week and is still touchy. She is feeling attacked, even though no one is attacking her. He tells her that everyone is against her, and she seems to want to believe it. It's easier than believing that he is against her. greensad.gif 

To answer your question about money; I don't know what she'll do. I worry about her, because her grandma, whom she was very close to, took care of her to a large extent till last year. I can't imagine what that is like, because I've been independent since I was a teenager. I am not saying my way is/was better. It was scary and lonely when I was younger, but because it is all I have ever known, and can't imagine relying on anyone beside my husband. She used to make comments about how she knew she was relying on her grandma too much, but never did anything about it. Independence is hard to teach with words. It's something you have to just sort of "do", in my opinion. 

But you're 100% right. I have allowed my child to see a terribly toxic situation, and that is on me, and even if she can't/won't change things for herself or her child, we (husband and myself) will have to change things for our own child and our peace of mind. 

As of right now, the only thing I know that I'm going to do is remove my daughter and family from the situation. I will still help her if helping means getting away from him, but I can't help her stay anymore. Thank you so much. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LLQ1011 View Post

Tell her,

 

Tell her she is depressed

That her boyfriend is abusive

and that you will no longer subject your family to it

tell her the only help you can offer her next is to help her get help and or leave that man

 

There is no reason to put your family in a toxic situation. All you are doing is enabling her to continue her life style. What about when her money runs out? Try to reach her now before she is in a more desperate situation.


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#5 of 6 Old 04-07-2013, 04:21 PM
 
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As someone who has experienced abusive relationships and also severe sleep issues, i understand too well what she's going through. She's caught up in the emotional grip he has on her to the point where its making her shut the rest of the world out. She doesnt have a will of her own, so clinging to his needs and wants is what she feels the safest doing right now. She doesnt know how to take care of herself and the longer she stays in this situation, the less she will care to figure it out. He's bleeding her dry and she is too scared to venture out on her own. By believing the horrible things he says about her, she becomes his puppet, existing simply to please him. Her low self-esteem and constant criticism from him makes her feel the need to cater to him, as if pleasing him will make him happy with her and the abuse will then stop. She also believes that she can change him, that she has just as much power over him that he has over her. This is a type of addiction. Healthy people see it as intolerable, but for people who are caught up in it it is every day life that they feed off of. They wouldnt know what to do without it. This is why so many women who leave their abusive partners often go back to them. It can break the hearts of those who care about them, like yourself, but in my experience all you can do is offer your support. She has to want a better life for herself. That has to come completely from her. You can tell her how wonderful she is, point out her redeeming qualities, this might help build up her self esteem but only if she lets herself receives it. As far as the sleep goes, its definitely a sign of depression that she can change if she starts caring about herself. Unfortunately, this type of addiction makes the kids involved simply a shadow in the room that doesnt really get noticed. I would be focusing more of my attention on the child at this point--theres more that you could do for her than you can for her mother. If you figure out a way to talk to her alone then you can have a conversation about whats going on, what the dad has done, etc. Document that and if there's enough there to prove abuse then either go to social services or if you dont want to take that drastic of a step then maybe let her mother know what you've documented. This way she knows her little bubble has been infiltrated and she cant hide anymore, as long as she wants to keep her daughter in her care, that is. She will need to get out of that situation for her daughter's sake. She will be pissed at you but you will have helped the child, if no one else. I hope some of my insights and advice help, i wish you well.

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#6 of 6 Old 04-09-2013, 05:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much. I think, in making a list, I would necessarily have to include not allowing our kids to play together for a while.
 

Our own daughter is torn up whenever her friend is upset and after last week, I can't begin to explain to my child that her friend's dad doesn't mean it when he says he's going to take the little girl away and not allow her to see her mommy anymore. Our daughter was so distraught. 

It will be hard to draw the line in deciding when to help, but I think that if it helps him in some material way, we won't be able to do it. I don't want to make anything easier on him in any way. 

Again, thank you. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyHappyMommy View Post

mamabunnyboo, support as you face this difficult situation! There is information from the National Domestic Violence Hotline here on how to support a friend who is in an abusive situation which you might find helpful: http://www.thehotline.org/get-educated/how-can-i-help-a-friend-or-family-member-who-is-being-abused/. In addition to helping your friend, it sounds like you are also asking about how you can take care of yourself and your family. Perhaps it would help to write down (just for yourself) a list of your boundaries, what you are and aren't comfortable with. For example, based on your post, one might be "Our daughter shouldn't be see XXX and I will make sure it doesn't happen in the future." And another might be "I can only help between the hours of XXX and XXX." As you think about your boundaries, it might help to come up with a plan of what you will say to your friend when she needs help that crosses your boundaries. Good luck Mama!
 


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