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"When he hits me I'll leave" ... but he hits the kids

(61 Posts)
garlicnutter Mon 11-Jul-11 02:26:42

This has been tormenting me for ages. The kids are nearly grown up now; it's been going on since they were little. The mother is a close friend of mine. I have called SS before, when she was in a crisis state, but they've always muddled through somehow.

Not long ago, we were talking about when the youngest leaves home in a couple of years' time. She said - as she often has before - that if he moves on to her when there are no DC to hit, she'll finally leave.

I have made a permanent offer of a place to stay if/when she does it. She's always had keys to my place. I understand why she accepts violence in her family (background ishoos), but I'm finding it harder and harder not to feel disgusted that she's accepted violence against her children but won't accept it for herself.

It's too late to change what's done. I don't know what to do, think or feel about her now. She's my only friend since childhood - not sure why I'm posting this really! Any advice, opinions or wise words will be welcome.
Thanks smile confused

TheFrogs Mon 11-Jul-11 02:47:39


BitOfFun Mon 11-Jul-11 02:56:48

So you are saying that she has effectively used her children as a human shield? And you have remained friends all these years? I find that hard to understand, unless there is something you aren't telling us?

TheFrogs Mon 11-Jul-11 03:38:25

Oh yes, please do.

Catslikehats Mon 11-Jul-11 03:51:47

She wont leave when he moves on to her. Of course she wont sad

For whatever reason she has normalised violence and abuse. I can understand your disgust that she has failed to protect her children adequately and I guess if you want to continue your friendship you will have to address that but I wouldn't look at it from the perspective that she accepts abuse for her children but not herself. Because she undoubtedly will.

TheFrogs Mon 11-Jul-11 04:04:47

I wouldn't even bother with her. If he's never hit her she's surely not frightened of him and has sat by watching her kids get smacked about. I couldn't be friends with someone like that sad

littletreesmum Mon 11-Jul-11 08:14:50

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Jux Mon 11-Jul-11 08:21:50

God, that is awful. What are the children like? How on earth have they managed, are they managing?

TBH, I'd have had a quiet word with the kids long ago and told them to come to my place.

AnyFucker Mon 11-Jul-11 08:27:44

I really could not stay friends with a woman who condoned violence against her children

There is nothing more to say, really

RamblingRosa Mon 11-Jul-11 08:30:48

Are you sure that he hasn't been hitting her too? Is it possible she's not telling you the whole story?

AnyFucker Mon 11-Jul-11 08:37:20

what kind of woman admits that she stands by while he twats the kids, but not that he hits her ?

was she raised in a background where hurting your children is accepted ?

EightiesChick Mon 11-Jul-11 08:42:40

Yes, I'd be making the offer of a place to stay to her kids first off.

I'm also sceptical that she will ever leave.

If she really is your only friend since childhood, I can sort of understand why you feel conflicted. It would be hard to face the fact that she is a self-centred person of such dreadful proportions. But this is the case. Don't kid yourself she cares about you, either.

What happened when SS got involved before? Does she know you called them?

silentcatastrophe Mon 11-Jul-11 08:47:13

I have been used as a human shield too. It does happen. I realise now just how little support my mum got, either from external agencies or from her family to cope with living with my dad. The threats have been awful for her, and she was rammed between a rock and a hard place.
For the record, she is still married to my dad, slipping into Alzheimers, probably for some peace.
The family breathes toxicity, and it's very hard to share the same air.

It's not something she really talked about to her friends. All behind closed doors. I only heard a squeak about my dad's violence from my mum after he had given me a black eye for no particular reason when I was 16.

memorylapse Mon 11-Jul-11 09:42:34

as the product of a severely dysfunctual family in which my mother actually sent me to live with my violent father when I was 13, I could not condone this. I had a friend many years ago whose husband hit her frequently, one day he threw her then 4 year old ds down the stairs and beat her so badly that he fractured her jaw....she took him backsad, so sadly I terminated the friendship

JeremyVile Mon 11-Jul-11 10:03:49

What a fucked up pair they sound.

Couldn't be friends with someone like that, I'd be utterly repulsed by them both.

Baggypussy Mon 11-Jul-11 10:04:18

I'd be making another call to SS pronto. Are they aware that there is violence involved?

Regards staying 'friends' with her- tell her exactly what a spineless coward she is being. Make it clear how uncomfortable you are with her behaviour. It may be the wake up call she needs.

But if she chooses to do nothing, I'd have no qualms about withdrawing your support.

mollymole Mon 11-Jul-11 10:11:22

what a cow !!!!
i never thought i would make such a statement, but if she has been using her kids as a shield and allowing them to be beaten by her partner then she deserves everything she may have coming to her
poor, poor little kids - and you have had her as a 'friend'

LeQueen Mon 11-Jul-11 10:47:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sylvana Mon 11-Jul-11 10:57:23

What is heartbreaking about this post is that those poor kids don't have anyone to defend them sad This woman is just as bad as her partner for allowing this to happen. Please ring SS again.

TheCrackFox Mon 11-Jul-11 11:01:13

You need to ring SS again and tell them everything that you have written in your OP.

Anniegetyourgun Mon 11-Jul-11 11:06:22

Going to be jumped on from a great height here, but there's still a bit of cultural, shall we say, acceptability in some circles for disciplining children by smacking. Call it hitting, which is of course the same thing, and it instantly sounds bad, but if one was brought up (as I was) with physical punishment as the norm it's almost understandable that the parents don't feel they're doing anything wrong. My dad would give me and my sister a thorough beating when frankly an explanation of what we'd done wrong would have sufficed; it was clearly more about working off his temper than teaching us better ways. Given this normalisation I'm deeply ashamed to admit I did sometimes smack my DCs when they were small and were rioting in herds (though never when a telling off would get through to them, and never, never with anything harder than my hand - my dad didn't use objects either, but his hand was very hard!) and would love to turn the clock back and do things differently. Maybe garlic's friend was brought up similarly.

That's stretching the point, mind you, as she does seem to realise that her H is looking for someone to hit rather than believing he needs to chastise them as a disciplinary measure. She must have had one hell of a fucked-up childhood not to see what's wrong with that whole philosophy, and unfortunately, it's probably going to carry on for at least one more generation at this rate.

<Dons full body armour and runs away>

barbiegrows Mon 11-Jul-11 11:11:04

garlic I'm really surprised to hear this, after all your knowledge and understanding of DV. I can understand how, when you have known someone a long time you accept their behaviour, and perhaps your understanding of DV is a recent one.

If I were you I would buy the oldest girl the Beverly Engel book 'The emotionally abusive relationship' which will not only explain DV in the victim's terms, but also help abusers willing to change (victims often take on abuser's behaviours).

These children need social services intervention. Their lives must be hell. Spend time with them and look after them. It's the best thing you can do for your friend and may prevent the family going into meltdown.

garlicnutter Mon 11-Jul-11 11:38:36

I really appreciate these replies - each of you is saying what I think, which is why I'm conflicted!

Yes, she's a relation of mine. We were both brought up in violent families. I didn't realise until my thirties that it wasn't normal. I don't think she ever has - she says she does, but her actions & reactions belie the words. My guess is that, as a young girl, she saw her mother being hit and decided "I'll never put up with that". But she also saw her siblings getting it and, as a child, thought "That's what happens to kids."

In my recollections, she was severely abused but was also the golden child (how fucked up is that?) She now remembers only verbal abuse, not the rest. So I suspect she's normalised everything except the shouting. I am, as some of you have said, having trouble accepting the enormity of what she is.

I hadn't thought that she'll stay after her H turns on her. I see that's quite likely sad

I have told her DCs, regularly, in front of her, that what they're going through is wrong. Unfortunately my words are just a drop in the ocean of their lives - they are wonderful kids, but have predictably troubled relationships. This is what gets me down most about my family - the cycles are already re-starting. Her eldest is going to uni this year, the others have got a couple more years at home.

Part of me feels I ought to stay friends with her, as at least she's got someone to talk to about it and, at least, I know where she's coming from. The other part feels I'm heading towards serious cognitive dissonance and should just tell her, then dump her confused

They ALL told SS they were okay and I'd exaggerated a bad row.

Thank you so much for replying! I completely understand the anger in some of your posts; I need to hear it as well as the balanced perspective.

barbiegrows Mon 11-Jul-11 12:00:07

The bad news is that you are assisting your friend to normalise her situation. The good news is that people can and do change and it's so much easier when they are young. By getting full family support this can completely turn around.

EightiesChick Mon 11-Jul-11 12:00:10

You can't fix her, OP. The best you can probably do is keep telling the kids that it is wrong, so that they hear that enough times from someone they respect.

You mention her having 'someone to talk to about it' - what does she actually say? I would be pretty intolerant of her complaining about it by now if she doesn't do anything more. What reasons does she give (if any) for staying?

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