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Friends siding with abusive ex. Would you?

(26 Posts)
LeftAlone Wed 04-Jul-12 15:32:20

(Have name changed)

When I left college I met a man that was alot older than me. To cut a long story short, he took advantage of the vulnerable state I was in after a miscarriage and bad depression. He convinced me to move away from home and live with him but gradually got very nasty and controlling and ended up being physically abusive on many occassions.

During this time I got close to many of his friends as I didnt know anyone else in the area.

Years later after managing to escape the horrible man, his ex girlfriend contacted me to ask if I was ok. Turns out he had been horribly abusive to her as well. Even after us both confiding in some of these friends and one of his siblings (who are in the same social circle) about the abuse we suffered they either seem to refuse to believe it or choose to ignore it.

They have now completely cut me off and I dont understand! Many of the friends had told me in the past that they dont like the guy and the only reason he gets invited out is because hes the brother of one of the friends.

The reason I'm posting this is to find out what you would do if you were in the situation where a friend confided in you about an abusive partner who happened to be your friend also. Is it just a case of who you were friends with first? I would just like to understand where they might be coming from.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Wed 04-Jul-12 15:34:16

Two men who were friends of mine have later turned out to be abusive wankers. Don't communicate with either of them any more. Still friends with the two women.

Leverette Wed 04-Jul-12 15:37:48

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

TheHappyHissy Wed 04-Jul-12 15:38:35

Birds of a feather flock together. This man is vile, you would expect that some of his friends would be vile too.

My entire family kind of sided with My abusive ex, by totally and utterly avoiding me when he did leave, so they didn't have to ask me if I was OK.

You and this ExGF of his can move on, and you will meet better people, better friends, that Ex of yours will always be abusive.

Well done for getting out!

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Wed 04-Jul-12 16:42:42

I've been in a similar situation to you OP, and from my experience, we are not believed because our abusers are oh so charming outside the home that nobody could believe that of them. They'll also spin their own story of how we're 'psycho's and unstable and how they had to sometimes restrain us or we would have attacked them. Abusers are often very plausible liars.

It's much easier to believe that you are an evil pyscho who is just getting revenge, then it is to believe that this guy you've known for years is an abusive twat.

startlife Wed 04-Jul-12 17:08:21

Happyhissy made a good point, you may feel you know these friends but perhaps you don't. My dh had this situation when he separated from his abusive ex. It was only a few years down the line when the wife of one of the 'friends' decided she couldn't tolerate their marriage any longer and then all the truth came out did he fully realise how awful these 'friends' were.

Some people are superficial who side with however they think will bring them status or social gain in some way.

corlan Wed 04-Jul-12 17:55:50

My XP was an easy going, mild mannered guy who loved a laugh and a joke and would smile and chat to anyone. Unfortunately, when the mood took him and he'd had a few drinks ( which was quite often) he would use me as a punchbag.

I think it can be very hard for people to accept that someone they are friends with can be an abuser. It's a huge leap to make in your head. Most of us judge people on how they treat us because that's all we can really be sure of.

Don't take it as a judgement on you - because it's not.

izzyizin Wed 04-Jul-12 18:07:52

they either seem to refuse to believe it or choose to ignore it

Because they don't want to believe it, or because what they get from maintaining a friendship with him is more important to them than maintaining one with you.

Either way, you're better off without these type of people in your life.

Lueji Wed 04-Jul-12 19:37:53

I have a couple of friends that may well separate at some point.

I don't take sides as such, and when I was away I mostly was in touch with him. But, from things she says he is not supportive and can be nasty, even when she is ill.

Maybe because I went through a bad marriage, I am prepared to tell her that some things are just not acceptable.
Not sure I'd stop being his "friend" if they separated, but I'd definitely choose her. If nothing else for solidarity.

People who try to hold bad marriages together may be more reluctant to side with the abused, because they would have to examine their own relationships.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Wed 04-Jul-12 20:08:25

These "friends" prefer to condone abuse by not condemning it. You are better off without them. Yes, I know it is hurtful and bewildering, but sometimes people are shit and selfish and thoughtless. It is not a reflection on you: just a reflection of their own issues and priorities.

Try not to let it get you down: you don't need to win anyone over to your "side", and now that you have a firmer grasp on the treatment that you deserve, you WILL find much better people to replace the space they have just vacated in your life. I guarantee it.

dondon33 Wed 04-Jul-12 20:13:06

Personally if I were friends with you both and he had been abusive towards you then I'd ditch him not you.
They may not believe you sad
They may not care what he's done. Either way they are not worth it. Forget about them.

I understand how it feels leftalone, my own family believed my arsehole EX over me for a while, it feels like a betrayal.

People who try to hold bad marriages together may be more reluctant to side with the abused, because they would have to examine their own relationships.
Sadly, so very true.

lisaro Wed 04-Jul-12 20:24:53

With no evidence? I would try to find out the truth, I don't know if what one person telling me is the truth or even the whole truth - no offense OP - it could be a disgruntled ex, or even the opposite. If It was that the person was abusive I'd drop them like hot shit, immediately after telling them why.

foolonthehill Wed 04-Jul-12 21:01:00

Many people still assume that it was a 50:50 relationship breakdown that has turned sour....

in my experience the only ones who really believed me and "got it" were people who had been in abusive relationships before or experienced them at quite close hand or who knew me very very well before my marriage.

either are free and you will have much much nicer friends now....ones you make for yourself and who value you.

The others...well let them enjoy his company...cos you know what he is really like and he's certainly not worth spending much head space on.

LeftAlone Wed 04-Jul-12 22:31:32

Thanks for the replies. Really interesting to hear different points of view. You've certainly made me feel better about the whole thing and I am definitely better off without them.

You would think that being told similar stories by 2 different people at completely different times (years apart) would be enough to make them start to believe it. I shudder at the thought of just how much more hes going to get away with before anyone wakes up to what he is.

I think what you have all said about reasons why they may have treated me this way have been pretty spot on for each of them, all different circumstances.

chipmonkey Wed 04-Jul-12 23:29:35

LeftAlone, after hearing my SIL talk about a local couple who have just split up, I really do despair. SIL thinks the guy was lovely and so good with the kids, despite the fact that when they broke up police were called and she now has a barring order on him. Sometimes people don't seem to want to know the truth.

AltruisticEnigma Thu 05-Jul-12 01:57:18

Having gone through a similar situation *See very first post* I can relate. My ex partner was very verbally abusive and sexually abusive to me, aswell as me finding out some of his extra curriculears, can we say.

Now we have a fair few friends that are the same, as a lot of us went to the same school or knew someone from that school etc. I've told a few of them what has happened as I'm not ashamed and shouldn't been/have been and wanted them to know. Most of them are still friends with him even though they know he's done some of this stuff. Some of it he's admitted to, others they can just imagine him doing it. They just say they don't want to get involved and I think that's a big part of it. They don't want to get involved as they see what happens to someone else nothing to do with them, as that's pretty much what I got.

I was perplexed too presuming human decency would rule over anything else but it really doesn't always work that way. Sometimes people believe what the other person says because trust me they spin a different web. I'm supposed to have a criminal record now as I harrassed him after we broke up, apparently cough he has one *cough*. I feel so smug now as I'm getting an Advanced CRB for my job coming up and want to print it out to show everyone and go "BADABING! See what x has said, load of crap!" But it's so not worth it I've realised that most recently. Anyone who chooses to believe him is welcome to, because they obviously haven't taken the chance to see all angles. If someone I don't know believes it, that's their issue and if at the end of the day friends of both of ours think that being neutral is more important or cutting me off is easier because he told them to then well they are the fools and will figure it out eventually.

I hope you and the ex girlfriend have moved on and are happy. His ex after myself and I are now friends due to this too and we both have amazing partners. I have myself an amazingly caring and respectful fiance and she has a sweet and fun loving boyfriend so we both came out great on the other side and I sincerely hope you do too. smile

Oogaballoo Thu 05-Jul-12 09:21:25

I've seen this happen. Seen it with rape too, though this was years ago. Sat in the middle of a conversation where a bunch of women were jumping in with their opinion about what she did wrong and how she was basically asking for it, like some desperate attempt to prove that they're "fair" and not that kind of weird feminist who might trust someone's word that they were attacked. I saw the attacker, after he was convicted, at parties and barbecues and all the rest, women throwing their arms round him for photos and people chatting away to him like he was the best bloke in the world.

I've never felt the same way about people since. I know that sounds dramatic but it was such a sickening display and it made me doubt all the people I knew.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Thu 05-Jul-12 09:47:16

Part of victim-blaming (because that's what saying that a breakup due to abuse is "50/50" is), is also the fact that people like to reassure themselves that it could never happen to them. So they will find a way to make it the victim's "fault" in some way. The subconscious reasoning is that since they themselves would never be so imperfect, then they could never be abused/raped/whatever.

Refusing to see that you are not responsible for the abuse you experienced is a way for them to feel safe about their own lives.

NicknameTaken Thu 05-Jul-12 10:17:45

I didn't have many mutual friends with ex, so it didn't really arise. That said, from what I know of his friends, they are genuinely good people who have totally fallen for his "spin" - that I claimed abuse simply as a strategy to get custody of DD. ExH is very very convincing, because he believes it himself - he believes he was perfectly entitled to behave the way he did, he didn't do anything wrong, and was forced to act in certain ways because I made him, by not immediately not letting him have his way in all things. He really does seem himself as a victim, and a lot of people want to save the victim (hell, that's how I ended up with him in the first place).

tb Thu 05-Jul-12 19:17:10

The problem is that most abusers, if not all, are very very plausible. It's how they get their next victims.

It happens with all types of abuse, whether dv or the sexual abuse of children.

I agree with all the earlier posters that it's part of the 'blame the victim' culture.

NicknameTaken Fri 06-Jul-12 09:42:15

I think it's also to do with the fact that nobody wants to believe they're a bad judge of character.

Also, victims can come across as more emotional (only natural, given what they've been through) and can be dismissed as hysterical/bitter. The abuser is not distressed, so can concentrate on "pitching" his story better.

ChocolateRose3 Sat 13-Jun-15 21:37:06


I was so glad when I found this thread, as I had a very similar experience from a group of friends after I was raped and abused. I was so shocked by how these people treated me I thought I must be the only woman it could have happened to, so it was such a relief to read on here I wasn't alone. So I will share my experiences and hope it may comfort other survivors.

I never thought these women I'd been friends with for over a year wouldn't want to know when I told them what had he'd done. I thought they would be lovely and kind to me and naturally wish to distance themsleves from an abusive rapist. It was just devastating when they chose to believe his lies, even though it turned out they even knew he had been very violently abusive before, so there was no excuse not to believe me. I could not believe how people could be so heartless towards me, after what I'd been through and with the PTSD I had, but they were. There is actually a name for it: 'Seconday Wounding'. I recommend this website for any survivor who has been betrayed and hurt in this way.

Thank you to all the people who have written on here explaining why some people turn their backs on abuse victims. There are many reasons why and what you've said is true of the circle of friends I was with at the time. The queen bee of the friendship group I was in at the time, had known my abuser and his family for many years, and she listened to his lies, chose to believe him, refused to hear what he did to me, simply because of these loyalties, and because she was weak and it was easier for her to minimize what he'd done to me than stand up for what was right. My well-being just wasn't as important to her as other friendships she would risk losing. She told the reat of the group there were 'two sides' to it and as I became more upset about her telling the rest of the group thus, the more people said I was unstable. While I suffered from PTSD he went calmy round lying to everyone. They had only known me for a year before he came along, and this was also the main problem, and it does come down to how well people knew you before. My old friends immediately believed and supported me so I moved back home and stuck with them.

Some people just don't get it, don't want to get it, don't want to get involved etc. There is a very good explanation of why some people refuse to listen to rape victims in the online book 'The Courage to be Me.'

The kind of person who would turn their back on a rape/abuse victim when they can see that woman's suffering right infront of their eyes, are very weak and superficial. They are not worth it.

Fellow survivors out there, hang on in there things will get better, cos things like this really sort the shit from the sugar, and the friends who stand by you through this are the best kind of people. You will come through this with a very good ability to avoid superficial people and if you arm yourself with the ten signs of the abusive man this won't happen to you ever again. I have been with a lovely bloke for 6 years now, and he even went to the police with me to report the abuser. And the girlfriends I have now are such kind, loyal, strong women - real women.

Take care sisters
X x x

DogWalker75 Sat 13-Jun-15 22:16:56

My 'friend' of twelve years is pally with my abusive ex and insinuated that I should get over the abuse and just get on with it, so I simply cut her out. There were also several mutual friends who 'picked his side' in the end. I think people often choose the path of least resistance. Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of his shit. I understand their actions, but I don't want to be friends with people who have no moral compass whatsoever.

My advice would be to move on and not give it another thought. Put it down to the fact they're all spineless arseholes and it's no reflection on you. smile

DogWalker75 Sat 13-Jun-15 22:26:17

Sorry, on the phone app and didn't notice the date blush

AskBasil Sat 13-Jun-15 22:40:33

What everyone else has said and of course, that residual thing of never believing a woman's word against a man until you absolutely have to.

You don't need people like this as your friends, hope you're getting on well without them.

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