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What advice should I be giving my friend re:leaving husband, I'm a bit out of my depth and she is totally overwhelmed and frightened.

(10 Posts)
SewWhat Thu 13-Oct-11 21:01:27

Sorry, this is going to be a long one. An old friend of mine is in a bit of a bad position and I have been trying to advise her what she could do but I'm a bit out of my depth tbh.

They have been together about 11 years, and have 5 children, ranging from 9 to nearly 1 years old. By the time they had DC3, the marriage was in trouble, both of them unhappy but she didn't want to admit it was over and they just sort of kept going. They then went on to have 2 more babies, both unplanned and each pregnancy prolonging the relationship that was dead in the water already.

Now she is desperately unhappy, he is mean to her, shouts and swears and her, calls her a piece of crap, controls all the money even though its a joint account (she is a SAHM). She is very intimidated by him, you can see her physical demeanour change when he gets home from work. I think she is frightened of him. She has never said he has been violent but I'm not sure if she just doesn't want to speak out about it or whether she is just worn down by the emotion abuse.

I have been saying for years that she needs to leave him, that I will help in any way I can but she always just said 'it'll get better'. She doesn't say that now and even she accepts that it has to end. I want to give her the best advice I can but I don't know what to say. If anyone can advise on whether what I have said so far is appropriate and whether there are other things I can suggest to her I would really appreciate it because I really worry about what s going to happen, she isn't the strong woman she once was.

So my advice has been:
1. Try to squirrel away as much money as she can so she has some money
2. Ensure she has the birth certificates, red books and passports for her and the DC ready
3. Open a bank account in her name only, keep it a secret if needed, so benefits can be paid to her directly when the time comes

She wanted to know if she can make him leave but I didn't know what to say, can she? Where could she go? She knows she can always come here but 8 children and 3 adults in a 2 bed terrace isn't a long term solution! How much money could she expect to get from him in maintenance per month? She said she thinks she'll have to stay because she can't support the DC without him and his income.

All advice would be greatly appreciated, I just don't want to give her bad advice . Thanks and sorry for the essay.

SewWhat Thu 13-Oct-11 21:04:23

Sorry, can't count, it'd be 7 children and 3 adults. D'oh!

ThereGoesTheFear Thu 13-Oct-11 21:28:02

I think the first thing that she needs to do is call Women's Aid. Check out the link at the top of this section. Then CAB, and a solicitor (she can get a free 30 min session). Your practical advice is good, and they'll be able to add to it.

ThereGoesTheFear Thu 13-Oct-11 21:30:24

I meant to say, I don't know about the housing and CSA side of things, but the CAB will be able to advise (there's an online CSA calculator on the CSA website).

And she's lucky to have your support - it could make all the difference to her smile

izzywhizzysfritenite Thu 13-Oct-11 21:31:07

If he is violent to her, encourage her to call the police as they'll remove him from the house pdq and that will start the ball rolling in the right direction.

SewWhat Thu 13-Oct-11 21:37:06

The thing is that I don't know if he is violent or not. It certainly wouldn't surprise me though. I haven't been brave enough to ask her, she is a proud woman and I think she would be devastated to admit something like that. She is ashamed, she told me, that the marriage hasn't worked out.

I will suggest Women's Aid and CAB, I hadn't though of them though now you mention them it seems obvious.

DioneTheDiabolist Thu 13-Oct-11 21:42:17

Your advice concerning important documents and money is spot on. I would also advise her to make an appointment with CAB (go with her if she wants) to get expert advice. And be as supportive and non-critical as you can. Continue to be a good friend. You have no idea just how helpful this alone can be.

HerScaryness Fri 14-Oct-11 00:27:43

It doesn't always matter that there has been no violence. gradually the thinking is coming round to consider that emotional/psychological abuse is as bad, if not worse in some respects than physical violence.

A bruise heals, the scars inflicted by verbal assaults, gaslighting and manipulation don't ever heal unless the victim does some serious work to heal them.

She may not be ready, in which case, give her the WA numbers, the CAB details and get her to start to arrange for benefits to come to her. He's financially abusing her too. It'll be the tip of the iceberg.

STIDW Fri 14-Oct-11 03:05:29

Unless it is unsafe the usual legal advice is not to move out until arrangements for children and finances are in place. It isn't very pleasant but if the behaviour goes beyond what is acceptable and amounts to pestering or harassing it is possible to apply for an injunction preventing him going near her and an occupation order.

Your friend should check out what help financially she would be entitled to from the state , in particular Working Family Tax Credits if she could work 16 hours a week. Child support would be 25% of his net income, minus deductions for any overnight contact.

SewWhat Fri 14-Oct-11 09:03:59

Thanks guys, I really appreciate it. I'll make sure to sit with her and go through some of the things you have suggested next time we have a coffee. My biggest worry is that she will be so overwhelmed that she chooses to stay with him as the 'easier' option because it is all too daunting, so I'll have to be careful to not overload her. I think a chat with WA and CAB would probably be best to start, I'll just try to make it clear that she needn't do it alone, I'll help as much as I can. I think her biggest fear is money, she just keeps saying 'how am I going to feed 5 children?'. Its just heartbreaking really.

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