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My friend hit his wife

(44 Posts)
littlebunnyfriend Fri 23-Aug-13 15:12:28

I'm really good friends with a man - we grew up together, went to school together and even went to the same uni tho different campuses. There's never been a romantic relationship between us as we're too close, he was like a brother to me growing up. As adults we live a few hours' drive from one another but still meet up from time to time and are/were both married with several children (I still am). He's now gone through a very ugly and messy divorce, and we've talked about it a lot. I liked his wife but thought they were very incompatible and (from hearing just his side of course) it sounded like she was hard work in many ways and a bit mad.

A few weeks ago we got together for dinner and during the course of rehashing the divorce, he admitted to me that he had hit her, and that's why she left and where the separation started. He described it as an end of his tether moment and that he was ashamed of it. He is a very big, muscular guy and she is short and like a twig, and this is horrifying. He's also told me the story of the 'final row' many times but never admitted to the violence - it was 2 years ago now.

I feel really shocked by it to be honest and don't know where to go with our friendship from here. I hate to think of how scared she must have been, and also don't feel like I know him at all. I'm not even sure that there weren't other times that he hit her, since he hid this one from me for so long.

I know it's none of my business. Should I just keep supporting him as a friend (as I have done all along - but now wonder if I've ignored domestic violence and not been there for HER) or do I now need to cut ties with this man, who is violent towards women apparently? I feel so shocked and disappointed, and although I love him so, SO dearly, I'm not sure I want to be friends with a man who could do such a thing. What would you do?

Squitten Fri 23-Aug-13 15:16:51

I imagine I'd feel much the same as you OP. Whilst I would want to support my friend, I think there's a large part of me that would just see them differently and, especially in the case of violence, would become wary. I think the friendship would end in the long run.

Rooners Fri 23-Aug-13 15:20:38

the fact he didn't tell you he hit her would be the end for me

HotDAMNlifeisgood Fri 23-Aug-13 15:24:56

I would end the friendship. But then, I am a survivor of domestic violence.

I know that those people who kept up their friendship with my ex-h, despite my telling them of his violence, were in fact enabling him to keep up his denial.

I would let your friendship fizzle out as he decieved you by not telling the truth at the time & i wouldn't want to be friends with someone who physically attacked their partner.

fackinell Fri 23-Aug-13 15:27:00

There is never an excuse for ANY DV, once is one too many times. However, I would ask him to explain himself a bit more. Was it a two way violent argument? Did she lash out at him and he defended himself and lash out back? Was there more than one occasion? (Not the latter makes any difference, btw, but will help with your decision to walk away.)

If there was no violence on her part that he was defending himself from then I would have to let the friendship go. I would do the same if it was a female friend hitting a partner too, but I do think he needs a chance to explain further and for you to be brutally honest in your reasons for ending the friendship. There should be zero tolerance for any DV, regardless of gender.

Sorry you're in this situation OP.

Jovellanos Fri 23-Aug-13 15:27:38

I would end the friendship. In the same way that I would end a friendship with someone who turned out to hold racist views.

Some things are just indefensible. His poor wife: 'it sounded like she was hard work in many ways and a bit mad'.

That's what they all say. sad

Seb101 Fri 23-Aug-13 15:33:58

I wouldn't end a friendship over this, especially not a close and long standing friendship. We all make mistakes and are all capable of this type of wrong doing. IF it was a one off, I'd still support and continue friendship with this person. Completely different if you learn he was regularly violent and abusive. I know once is still completely wrong and unacceptable, but I think we all deserve a second chance.

Jan45 Fri 23-Aug-13 16:02:04

I would give him a 2nd chance based on it happening only the once - I know loads of loads of folk who have and have hit their partners, they're all still together, you never know what goes on behind closed doors.

Lweji Fri 23-Aug-13 16:03:23

Some things are just indefensible. His poor wife: 'it sounded like she was hard work in many ways and a bit mad'.

My feelings too.

More than just the hitting.

If he was really sorry, it's more likely he'd say something like I saw red and hit her, which I regret ever since, and would have said that earlier on, instead of complaining about her.
And a truly regretful man would have facilitated the divorce. It shouldn't have been messy.

If he has admitted to hitting her once, it's quite likely that it wasn't just once, nor only a slap. sad

Lweji Fri 23-Aug-13 16:04:10

How many women divorce after one hit?

HotDAMNlifeisgood Fri 23-Aug-13 16:04:17

"you never know what goes on behind closed doors."

That attitude allows DV to continue.

Hiding this thread now.

Good luck with your decision OP.

Lweji Fri 23-Aug-13 16:06:59

I know loads of loads of folk who have and have hit their partners, they're all still together,

This doesn't justify it.
Many women stay with highly abusive partners.
Some will stay after one incident, because it was only once. It is likely to happen again eventually.
It's not their example that should be followed, but of those who leave.

Jan45 Fri 23-Aug-13 16:07:04

Hot: What? How exactly am I allowing DA to continue - you are seriously deluded.

hettienne Fri 23-Aug-13 16:08:14

Describing the wife as "a bit mad" rings an alarm for me - men who have psycho exes always turn up to have been utter bastards ime.

I would also doubt this is a one off, or else the wife is very unusual in leaving the first time.

Jan45 Fri 23-Aug-13 16:08:59

FOR THE RECORD: I am not justifying anything to do with DA - and the friends I know who have hit their partners are of BOTH sexes.

Jan45 Fri 23-Aug-13 16:10:23

And, if my partner hit me or vice versa - I'd be out. I can't help it if I know people who have been in this situation and are still together - have a go at them, not me!

Dahlen Fri 23-Aug-13 16:15:46

I think a lot depends on how real you consider your friendship up to this point. Do you think the person you've known all this time is the real him and that the violence is an aberration? If so, you could explore that with him. Listen to what he has to say about his motives, his willingness to accept responsibility and desire to change for the better. Perhaps the most telling evidence you'll have in assessing this is the way in which he talks about his XW now and how he treats her.

I think it is far more likely that he has been abusing her for years and this was a final straw moment for his XW, since abuse rarely takes place in a vacuum. It is unusual for abusers to graduate to violence without some form of psychological abuse gradually appearing first. That said, every one has their breaking point, and it is not impossible that he reached his under intense provocation. I still think it is unlikely though.

IME abusers can often give the appearance of being great friends even though they are horrific partners. This is because they apply different boundaries and rules to those perceived as their equals. The whole psychology behind abuse is that they feel superior to their victim and are therefore justified in mistreating them. It's why you can get the sometimes apparent contradiction of an abusive man who has no problem taking orders from a female boss.

It's up to you whether you want to base your friendship on his relationship with you or on how he treats others. I know which I would choose.

Pawprint Fri 23-Aug-13 16:31:07

Hard situation - you love him but he has admitted to serious attack on his wife. I'm afraid that I would have to distance myself from him from now on.

blueemerald Fri 23-Aug-13 18:13:31

I think for me his response to hitting his partner would be important. It has taken him two years to admit to what he has done. Not good, but perhaps he is deeply ashamed and embarrassed (as he should be). Now he has admitted it to you (and possibly himself) what does he plan to do about it now? Would he look into counselling or some kind of therapy (I'm not an expert on what is out there but anger management for example)? If he refused to take any steps to try and ensure it didn't happen again then I would probably end the friendship, however, I would like to think he has finally told you after all this time for a reason.

Bowlersarm Fri 23-Aug-13 18:25:44

You say he's like a brother to you?

What would you do if he were your brother? Stand by him, or ditch him?

WeAreSeven Fri 23-Aug-13 18:32:06

I know a couple whose marriage ended in DV. I knew her and she was mentally unstable which made her behave very badly at times but I still don't think there was any justification for hitting her. You should walk away before you hit someone. He's with someone else now and I wonder whether his new dp is safe as I think someone who hits one person in a fit of rage is probably capable of hitting someone else in a fit of rage.

FairPhyllis Fri 23-Aug-13 18:42:03

I wouldn't want to be friends with a violent person.

It is very unlikely that that was the only incident of abuse. He's been bullshitting you all along by telling you that she's crazy and 'hard work'.

Someone who thinks it's OK to abuse his partner deep down fundamentally hates women. Why would you even want to be friends with someone like that?

What will you do when he gets a new partner? Will you tell her he's been violent in the past? Or will you keep his secret for him?

Bowlersarm Fri 23-Aug-13 18:46:56

FairPhyllis he's told his friend so clearly he's not keeping it a secret.

FairPhyllis Fri 23-Aug-13 18:54:48

No, he has been keeping it secret. He has deceived OP (and presumably everyone else, otherwise OP would have heard) for two whole years about the real circumstances of his wife leaving.

Do you think he's going to be upfront and honest with future partners? Of course not! Nobody in their right mind would date him. Do you think he will expect you not to mention it to anyone he gets involved with, OP?

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