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My friend told me her husband hits her and abuses her sexually

(25 Posts)
Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Thu 11-Oct-12 12:43:01

She lives abroad and came to see me and my family with her H and kids recently. She told me so matter of factly - after she said that he was always so grumpy and irritable, I asked her if he hits her and she said yes.

She lives very far away from me and I have no idea when I will see her again. Her response to my reaction was so dreadfully typical: how much she loves him, how kind and generous he is, what a great lover he is. He demands sex OFTEN. I asked her what happens if she says no. She shrugged her shoulders and sort of smiled. Then she tried to convince me how much she loves him and how "hot" he is. Also, she said that she is XX years old - as if she should be grateful for his attention.

I am devastated. We live on opposite sides of the planet. What, if anything, can I do to help her? I want to tell her brother what her fucking arsehole of a husband is doing to her.

ScreamingNaanAndGoryOn Thu 11-Oct-12 12:46:47

I have a friend who I know has been raped by her husband and is treated like shit. What I have learned is that apart from being a listening ear there's just nothing you can do about it.

You can be supportive and listen and hope that they will leave their partners, but you can't make them do it.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Thu 11-Oct-12 12:49:24

Screaming, when you first learned about your friend's situation, did you also get very upset?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 11-Oct-12 12:54:54

All you can do is tell her in really unambiguous terms what you think of the set-up... and then refuse to have her nasty husband set foot in your home again. You probably won't change her mind about him but you can at least maintain your own standards.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Thu 11-Oct-12 13:00:40

I have already decided that he will never be welcome around me and mine again, Cogito. DH agrees and was as horrified as me to learn about my friend.

Thanks for your suggestion that I tell her exactly what I think. I will do so. I pussy footed around her on Tuesday night. She was so scared he would hear her telling me. She kept on saying she wished she could talk to me, but because our time was short together, and because he was in the next room she could not talk properly. sad

They have invited us to stay at theirs if or when we go to my home country again. That will not happen.

Should I tell her brother?

ScreamingNaanAndGoryOn Thu 11-Oct-12 13:05:11

Yes I did get very upset. Its hard not to when its a friend and someone you care about, but I have learned the hard way that people won't listen to you, which is why I now just provide a sympathetic ear.

My best friend, almost a decade ago now, told me about the physical and emotional abuse that she was going through at the hands of her partner. I tried my best to persuade her to leave as I could see her shrinking from the person that she used to be. She went on to marry the bastard and cut me out of her life a) as he wanted me out of her life and b) she didn't want someone in her life who knew the truth c) she felt pressured by what I was saying. It absolutely gutted me.

It is FAR better to keep supporting until they are ready to leave themselves. That way they have a source of support open to them when they need it and without any pressure.

I can see the attraction of telling her brother and it may work if she has him to talk to, but the reverse may happen that instead she denies it all.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Thu 11-Oct-12 13:08:37

That's awful, ScreamingNaanandGoryon.

peachypips Thu 11-Oct-12 13:12:19

The problem with refusing to have him in ur house is that he will want to know why, and then he will twig that your friend may have said something. This would be bad for her if he is abusive, and also could mean him making her cut ties with you, meaning she would have nobody. IMO it would be best to be very supportive quietly, or she'll become more and more isolated. I'm guessing because of his power over her she'd choose him over you?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 11-Oct-12 13:13:54

I had a really good friend who was in a DV situation. She was what you call 'volatile' herself but, on one occasion, her DH beat her up so badly when she was pregnant with their DD2 that she ended up in hospital. I did what anyone would and, when she called me to say she'd got away with the kids and the contents of the joint account, I drove a 400 mile round trip to collect her stuff and take it to her new place.

A few months later I heard, quite by chance, that she was back together with her DH in the new location. I was so angry that I didn't see her again for about 15 years. When we finally met again, there was her DD2... now a bonny 16yo.... who asked me 'why did you and mum stop being friends?' What do you say to that kid? 'Because your father nearly killed you when you were in the womb and your mother still let him back into your life?' TBH I actually wish I had.

Thistledew Thu 11-Oct-12 13:19:30

Tell her to sign up here. It will hopefully provide her with that drip, drip of information and awareness she needs to make the decision to change her life for the better. You don't even need to tell her the reason why you think she should sign up.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Fri 12-Oct-12 07:04:42

Peachypips, we live 6000 miles away from each other so it will be years before I see her again. So not having him in my home will not be of concern for sometime, if ever. Also, we have never really seen eye to eye and we both know that we don't like each other (abusive fucker and me). Added to that their precocious child refused to calm down and quieten down so that my son could get to sleep. I let the child know that he needed to be quiet and the man clearly did not take kindly to that. So there is certainly no love lost between us.

Cogito, maybe an opportunity will arise at a later stage for you to tell the daughter of your friend some home truths about her husband.

Thistledew, that is an excellent idea. Thank you. I will refer her to this page.

Offred Fri 12-Oct-12 07:33:33

Don't ban him from your home or bollock her, she'll see that as a threat and side with him.

Be supportive and help her gain strength to see that things are wrong.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 12-Oct-12 08:06:36

She's already siding with him Offred. As we often tell people here, you can't change others, you can only change yourself. I couldn't stand there smiling sweetly and serving cups of tea in my own home to a man I knew to be abusing my friend .... could you? Exclude the husband but let the friend know exactly why you're doing it. She may decide that you're a judgemental harpie having a go at her lovely DH and leap to his defence the way she's doing alread or she might just have a rethink & wonder if he's worth losing friends for.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Fri 12-Oct-12 09:41:21

I told her via fb that he was clearly being abusive and that it is never acceptable. She made lukewarm noises about how I should not worry about her and that she is thinking of a way out so that the least amount of hurt and pain is caused.

I replied and more or less told her that he is a dreadful human being and that she should consider how she felt if her daughter married a man that hit her or if her son slapped his partner about.

I could NEVER have him back in my home even if it meant that she did not come here either.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 12-Oct-12 09:54:04

It's good she's thinking of a way out and Im pleased you made your opinion known. What you have to be careful of now is that you don't just become a 'Wailing Wall'. i.e. don't let her use you as nothing more than a nicely distant shoulder to cry on because some people can keep that up for years as a substitute for anything constructive. Keep turning it back to 'what are you going to do about it?'... ball in her court.

Offred Fri 12-Oct-12 09:59:25

I know that cog but at the moment she is speaking to the op. it doesn't help to shout at victims of dv, just isolates them further and removes any chance of examples of normal life leaving them completely in the control of the abuser and further and further from the real world. With dv you have to play the long game and be crafty. Showing examples of good love and proper relationships and building the victim's self esteem and expectations whilst largely ignoring the existence of the abuser is what works best.

Offred Fri 12-Oct-12 10:03:21

And you don't have to pretend to like the abuser. It is ok to say you don't like the way they are treating their partner (your friend) but there are ways and ways. "He's horrible and nasty" rarely helps, calmly making the victim rather than the abuser the focus is much more effective: "do you think this is ok? How does it make you feel?"

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Fri 12-Oct-12 10:25:44

As so often happens, on the outside things look wonderful. Lavish lifestyle, no money worries, loads of friends, over the top displays of love and devotion on fb etc.

I used to envy her blush. More fool me.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 12-Oct-12 10:28:20

I'm not saying shout at anyone Offred but I don't think pussy-footing is advisable either. You're quite entitled, if theyve volunteered the information, to say that you're unhappy with the way they are being treated, concerned for their safety and say how you couldn't tolerate their DH in your home.... and you do it "more in sorrow than in anger". Which is the case here.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Fri 12-Oct-12 10:32:57

I cannot tolerate him, Offred, and I won't pussy foot around him. He is SUCH a bully even towards me and mine. ALWAYS knows better! He drank about 3 or 4 beers here (we are in England) and when I suggested that drinking and driving here is a serious offence, he laughed it off saying that there are no road blocks so what's the problem?

Even his 15 yr old daughter volunteered the information that he is an aggressive driver. He lets his NINE year old son drive a motor bike on the roads in his home country. What a mighty fine man he is.

Offred Fri 12-Oct-12 12:30:02

Yeah but it's moot point, you don't have to deal with him because he's far away and not your friend. If you've told her he isn't welcome at your home though and exactly what you think of him and if she tells him, which she may as dv victims often do, then you will become "the problem" not him. The problem is not just the manner of what you say but the content. If it is about him and what he has done then it threatens his control and she will most likely undermine the friendship herself in order to protect him and the relationship. If you challenge it you can do it without making it a challenge to him/them by helping to support her though exposure to examples of normal functioning and healthy relationships and through challenging the way she looks at what is happening (rather than what he is doing) to her. Dv victims just very very rarely have that level of insight at first and are not able to respond to things rationally like that. It isn't that they don't realise the things are bad it is that they are conditioned to accept those things being done to them and/or as things that just happen.

Offred Fri 12-Oct-12 12:33:40

Could you look up whether there are any dv support services where she is? Physical violence and sexual abuse is statistically riskiest to leave and I think she'll need proper specialist support where she lives.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Fri 12-Oct-12 12:43:53

I really appreciate your advice, Cogito and Offred. I have not told her that he is no longer welcome in my home.

I understand what you mean about me possibly becoming the problem and will take that into consideration. It would be awful if she stopped communicating with me because I put our friendship at risk by pointing out what a fuckwit her husband is.

Yes, I will try to help her see what is happening...Awful bloody situation.

This was me four years ago. Had my friend pushed I would have run a mile. I wasn't brave enough at that point to leave.

My friend made it clear that when and if I was ready she was there.

Offred Fri 12-Oct-12 13:11:19

Yeah, it is really really hard and an extremely fine line to walk and might be worth speaking to women's aid about. Please also remember that although this is a horrible situation for your friend you have little power to actually change it and you can't take on responsibility in your mind, just because you know about it, for something being done about it. It is very brave and kind of you to support her but don't do it at the expense of yourself.

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