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women's aid(19 Posts)
I have a friend who is in a very abusive relationship. Its not violent but it is abusive in every other way. He is trying to control her. She needs to get out desperately. I am really worried for her.
He's doing his best to prevent her from seeing other people ( friends or family), he's withholding money from her and he's constantly checking up on her. He criticizes her so often that its become normal and the atmosphere at home is terrible (which is beginning to impact the children).
I am trying to encourage her to find the confidence to leave. It seems such a step into the unknown. I wish I could help by giving her a place to stay.
I see women's aid written about on here often. Can anyone help me find a way to convince her to call them, even if its just for advice on housing or benefits until she finds a job and gets on her feet?
Does she actually want to leave? That's the problem with these situations. If she doesn't want to leave, if she's frightened or if she doesn't have the confidence it's verging on impossible to do anything constructive as a third party. All you can do is be a listening ear, keep in touch even if he makes things difficult, and say you'll be there for her when she's decided she's had enough.
There is a lot of great information on the Womens Aid website. For example, she'd find out that withholding money is classed as domestic abuse. Citizens Advice, local authorities, solicitors, CSA... there are a lot of sources of information and support for women like your friend. But until something triggers in her that she can and will get out, there's not very much you can do.
Thanks for replying. She wants to leave but she feels that she can't (because she is so financially dependent upon him). Then there is the aspect of taking the children away from their father.
I think she has completely detached from the relationship but talking to her she does seem to normalise some of the things that he does. These are things that are just not normal no matter how much you squint at them and try to see things from the other side. Its all about control.
Her problem with women's aid is that she feels she has to classify herself as abused to receive help. She is abused. Its scary how much he wants to dominate everything about her and how critical he is of her. But she doesn't want to knock herself lower by taking on the abused label, IYSWIM?
It's good that she wants to leave. Acknowledging that you are the victim of an abusive relationship is quite a hard thing to accept and not everyone can get there. If it's finances standing in her way primarily then guide her down the route of solicitors (is she married?), CAB, and the local housing authority. Show her the www.turn2us.org.uk benefit checker and run a few 'what ifs'. The CSA calculator can give her an idea how much maintenance her children would potentially get. There is a lot of help available without having to go the refuge route.
Not married. So she thinks this means that she has no right to support from him or anything towards looking after the children (and he has certainly encouraged her to believe this).
Being unmarried certainly puts her in a weaker position financially but he's still responsible for the maintenance of any children whether married or not. If she has contributed towards anything like property, if she's named on house-deeds for example, or put money into joint savings and has documentary evidence then she can make a claim for her share. A solicitor can give her the full story on all of that and she may find she's not as badly off as she thinks.
No, he's been very careful in all this. She gave up her job and became a SAHM after the birth of their first child, then subsequently they bought their first house. The house is in his name. The car is in his name. And all the bank accounts are in his name. Financially she has made no contribution whatsoever to the family at all.
Now its years since she had a job, there's been a deep recession in between and her confidence is on the floor. Plus she only worked for a few years before stopping to be a SAHM. Getting a job would be difficult, especially as she would still have to look after the children (who are now at primary school), but I guess not impossible?
So, she's not wrong then: she is financially tied to him?
Just as a way of example of how much he tries to control her: she used to help out in the children's school for a few hours a week. But then, he demanded that she gave it up as it was stressing him out ("all these people taking advantage of you").
She needs to talk to Women's Aid, who will be able to advise (and help, if she wants) her on housing and benefits. She can give a false name if she wants to. She really won't be losing anything and may just gain something.
Will WA allow her to talk to them on the basis that she quickly describes what has been happening to her but then they skip the part of the conversation where she is told that she is being abused. Instead they move onto telling her how to get away and advising her how to get a place to live and what benefits she can apply for until she sorts herself out.
The abused part is the bit she has a lot of trouble with, even though she doesn't mind describing what has been happening.
TBH I am worried for her physical safety when he realises that she is leaving and he is losing control.
She's not financially tied at all. From what you describe he will get to keep everything material, barring maintenance for the children, and she will have to start fresh. Daunting I'll grant you but not impossible. WA will have heard your friend's story time and time again, unfortunately. I'm sure they have come across plenty of women that don't want to open up much about the precise nature of the abuse and would respect that.
I think WA are used to hearing callers say 'of course I'm not being abused at all, I'm embarrassed to be taking up your time with something so trivial...'
Having said that, my friend ended her abusive relationship without ever calling WA. Neither of us had heard of it .... she sought help from counsellors and Relate ( on her own), and really fought with the idea that she was being abused. I listened, owned her anger for her sometimes, and tried to help her without making her defensive about her H.
My friend thought everything was half her fault. She still can only just use the 'abuse' word, so I can very much recognise that reluctance.... but the fact is, she's out, and safe.
It will be quicker and clearer for your friend to talk to WA. But the CAB, solicitor, a counsellor, or the police non-emergency, friends and family ... these are other resources to draw on, if she chooses not to talk to WA.
...wanted to add that you're being a truly good friend dipdabdo.
It's extremely difficult to watch someone going through this, desperately wanting to help them see, or make changes: and yet knowing it has to be their decision, every step of the way.
It can take a painfully long time, too.
You are doing a great job, just by being there for her.
WA also understand that some women don't like the label "abusive" and feel it knocks them lower, so they will be sensitive to that. If she calls and says she knows it's not right and she wants to leave but doesn't think it's possible, they'll help her with the practicalities. Or would she prefer to go to the local WA office with you to talk face to face?
he monitors her time closely. I don't think she'd be able to get free long enough to visit the office without him knowing that there is a "gap".
However, she has the number - i gave it to her today - and she says she will call. I just hope she will and that the person she speaks to goes gently.
or she can email? Set up a new account that he doesn't know about? I've found that really useful. somehow it's less daunting emailing someone, I have time to gather my thoughts, can read back and delete bits that I don't like before I send it and can read through all the replies again and again when i need it.
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