We know someone who has been married for 15 years and is being Emotionally Abused--if not physically.
I know that he has slapped her twice in this time period, and that she called the police one of those times.
I suspect that there might be more, but have not been told so either by her or by her relatives.
There are four young (under 12) daughters in the household as well as the paternal ILs.
The ILs not only do not intervene with his behavior, but seem to actually encourage it.
He does everything that a typical abuser does: criticizing her, acting jealous and accusing her of infidelity, putting her down, isolating her from friends and family, attempting to dominate her and make all the decisions on his own, etc.
He also tracks her telephone calls, her computer usage, wants to track her car, etc. to further the above.
She sometimes becomes frustrated and instead of creating a scene, takes off for an hour or two until she calms down.
The last time she did so, he didn't let her back into the house and she went to stay with relatives. When after a few days of just waiting she returned to the house and he still wouldn't let her in, she called the police to help her 'get in.' He told the police that she had 'abandoned' them and had done so before, etc.--pulled the children into it and had them say that 'Yeah, she leaves like this all the time' so the police sent her off.
Well, Dick's father was out of town and he was reluctant to make any decisions without him, so she had to 'stay away' for 30 days as a 'punishment' until his parents could return and tell him what to do.
There are other issues as well--during the time she was put out, he continued to come to her for money and to get her to do the grocery shopping, etc. but would not allow her to see the children.
Now she has been allowed to return home again, but I have received word that I should not send the children any birthday cards, letters, etc. Which I am quite happy to do, if it has created friction/stress at home. I just regret that the children may misinterpret it--I have always sent them cards, notes and little birthday things.
My whole response to this mess from the beginning and to anyone who said, 'Oh, poor, poor Jane' has been to remind them that Jane and Dick are both adults and responsible for their own choices, but that the four children are innocents and that anyone involved should emphatically encourage them to get into Marriage/Family counseling. I don't think she's going to leave him and I don't think he's going to divorce her but I do suspect they will 'go-around' like this many times again.
(Her relatives and his relatives have both at various times and for primarily selfish reasons encouraged them separately to get a divorce, though that would be a huge scandal in their culture and in their community. Though she did actually go see an attorney during this 30-day thing to see if there was any way to get back home to the children, etc. she was advised that it could be done legally but that it would be in the best interest of everyone if she got back into the home on her own--Thank Goodness)
I keep pushing Counseling whenever the topic of this marriage comes up, and my husband thinks that if Jane will 'just start going' Dick will insist on going too, being anxious about what she might say and what the therapist might suggest. I am concerned, though, that if she starts to go to counseling he will just say she 'can't' and things will escalate if she does so anyhow.
I do not hold her entirely blameless in this--I have no doubt that when she does create a 'scene' it is very ugly. My husband believes that she wants to have it both ways--doesn't want to bother with the work of mothering and is content to let the ILs do that, but then expects them to do it as she wishes; wants the benefits of having them in-house but not the attendant hassles.
My DP who knows the family best, was particularly disappointed that when Dick wouldn't let her back in the house she just left without the children and stayed away for so long without any calls or contact or any attempts to reach and reassure them, though she managed to make arrangements to go to a party. When DP offered to go with her to the house and see Dick & the children, she couldn't decide if she 'really' wanted to. There are also many other past events wherein she did not act in the best interest of the children--she certainly doesn't talk about them and how they feel about any of this--just her own feelings, and she quite frankly did not seem concerned about the effects all this is having on them when I raised the topic, though, of course I am well aware that one can never know what is in the heart of another person.
Still, our sympathies lie fully and completely with the children and how terrible this must all be for them.
So. . . any suggestions?