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need advice from someone who's been in an EA and DV relationship

(85 Posts)
anotherworriedfriend Sat 15-Jun-13 11:30:56

Have namechanged.

So, friend confides that her DH has a history of DV, probably related to undiagnosed MH problem.

Over a year at the P1 school gate, more details have been confided - lots of nasty, ugly, violent behaviour and then lots of peaceful, ordinary behaviour with gifts and gestures to "make up for it".

She feels powerless, "the kids love him", "it's not that bad" "I know how to handle him" - you know, the stuff that women trapped in an abusive relationship say. Sigh.

I've said to come to me if ever she feels her, or her kids safety is at risk - but, it's her marriage, she's a grown-up, she knows fine well what's going on and I've felt there's nothing to be gained from telling her to LTB; she already knows that - and, there's a distinct undercurrent of "it's more complicated than that".

However, she's just told me that DH has pinned 7 year old up against a wall. Screaming in the face, threatening violence and that the child's daddy is going to "fucking kill you"

Also, she's told me he's got convictions for assault - I don't know whether that's against her, the kids, or someone else.

This woman is bright, clever, funny, and you'd just love her.

She KNOWS he's bad for her, bad for the kids and that she needs to leave.

But, I'm not sure that me offering safe refuge is enough now that I know her kids are at risk from a violent, unpredictable dick man, who might be ill, but who refuses to see his GP.

If you've been on the receiving end of this kind of crap, I'm sorry. But, if you have any nuggets of what could have been helpful from a friend that might have enabled to extricate yourself - well, I'd be really grateful.

I don't want to mess this conversation with her up.

SirSugar Sat 15-Jun-13 11:43:20

call social services and report

Hissy Sat 15-Jun-13 11:44:49

Report. You have to.

DiaryOfAWimpyMum Sat 15-Jun-13 11:45:01

I would say the same, don't try to talking to her call SS and report, she cannot stay with him, let SS make the decision for her, him or her DC.

anotherworriedfriend Sat 15-Jun-13 11:54:06

It does sound criminal to me - well, it IS criminal. And, I am concerned that if I do nothing then I am also responsible for the situation the kids are in.

HOW do you report?

Tell social services what she has told me?

Then what happens? She gets a knock at the door from social workers/police?

Is it best to tell her I need to report it? Or, do it anonymously - if I report her situation the repercussions for her and her life are enormous. I know this can't go on - but, I want to keep her friendship. She's going to need a pal.

So sad.

Dahlen Sat 15-Jun-13 12:12:04

I'd report and tell her that you're doing so. Do it as sympathetically as possible and tell her you're happy to support her through it (if you are) and even be there to approach SS proactively with her rather than reporting her, but be firm about it. Point out that if her DH does hurt one of the DC, then you will be as responsible as him if you do nothing - as will she be.

Tell her that men who make threats to kill often carry them out - particularly if there are MH problems exacerbating the abuse.

Tell her that SS will consider her unable to protect her DC if she remains with her DH after he has threatened the DC, and she may lose her DC. Whereas if she approaches them and asks for support, they will help her.

Some abused women are only able to leave when the choice is between DH and DC - until they are given that stark practical choice they simply cannot see that 'keeping the family together' means choosing the DH over the DC. That's part of the erosion of clear-thinking that abuse has on people. There are many abused women out there who were angry at the time of SS intervention but later - once the fog has cleared - realise it's the best thing to happen to them and are eternally grateful it happened.

She may never speak to you again. She may be angry but accept your viewpoint and lean on you for support. I don't know. I do know that if you do nothing and this child gets hurt, you'll have to live with that for the rest of your life.

mrsdinklage Sat 15-Jun-13 12:13:57

another - if you don't report it the consequences could be far worse. You can report annonymously, as you want to keep her friendship that would be the best route. This is no longer about her - this is about her kids.

Dahlen Sat 15-Jun-13 12:15:00

FWIW I have reported someone to SS - with the woman's reluctant consent. It was one of the hardest things I've done and I felt awful telling her, but we remain friends to this day. And yes, SS intervened and it was a bit of a roller coaster of a ride, but she still has her DC.

mrsdinklage Sat 15-Jun-13 12:16:01

x posted with Dahlen - but she gave much better advice than I did so listen to her x

mrsdinklage Sat 15-Jun-13 12:18:19

Dahlen I too reported someone - SS were amazed as I said they could name me - the outcome for mine was the children were removed from a neglectful parent and went to live with another relative

anotherworriedfriend Sat 15-Jun-13 12:44:47

Good advice, guys, thanks.

Difficult advice, but, yep - the reality is the family is at risk from a violent, unpredictable huge and strong man.

I'm meeting her tonight to walk the dogs. Will tell her my quandary - she's confided in me, which means I have a responsibility.

Am Not Looking Forward To It. I really don't want to cause a crisis for her, but, there's no choice, really.

I guess it boils down to that if it was me in her situation - I'd want my kids to be safe. I want her kids to be safe. They are not, and she can't make them safe on her own.

So sad.

dunfightin Sat 15-Jun-13 12:49:10

I've been in the position of your friend to some degree. It is a long, slow road out of the situation. You get used to thinking you can handle it, but you can't and shouldn't have to handle someone else's potentially abusive behaviour or untreated MH issues especially when DC around.
If the DC say something at school or the school becomes aware, then they are likely to involve SS.
Have a look at WA or Refuge sites as they have some advice about supporting a friend.
If you've the time, take for her for a coffee and then explain clearly what you are going to do and why. Tough love does help. I'd like to think I'd have the strength to say "I'll help you if you get help to LTB but otherwise I can't listen to this and not act to ensure kids are protected so I am going to do x, y, z.

anotherworriedfriend Sat 15-Jun-13 13:17:23

Thanks, Dun.

She's on the road, has always said she'd leave him "if" - but, the "if parameters" change.

She doesn't talk about it much, but it's become the focus of our conversations over the last 3 months, which makes me think there's more going on that I know about.

Certainly, school have concerns about the kids - the wee boy is aggressive and quite unable to participate in sports without punching anyone who beats him. Proper punching. Also, lots of threatening shouting at other kids, and staff. But, I don't know what, if anything, they have done.

Regardless, I'll take your sound advice - meeting her tonight.

Hope your own situation has improved. x

jessjessjess Sat 15-Jun-13 17:51:18

She doesn't know what's going on, that's the problem. She's incapable of truly seeing it - how else could she cope with living in the middle of it?

You need to inform police and social services. You do not have a choice in the matter. It is worth losing your friendship over, should this occur, because there are children involved and they have no power and no say - so they need adults to act on their behalf.

Alternatively you could give her a time limit. She lives within that time, or you report. But I would go ahead and inform them, personally. Some things are more important than friendship.

yellowutka Sat 15-Jun-13 18:05:24

Any adult who has been informed about violence in a household where there are children has a responsibility to report that - it's a child protection issue: you do not have a choice under law. Therefore, do not worry about it - report it.

Lweji Sat 15-Jun-13 18:19:51

I think that as she has confided in you that she may well be wishing that the decision is taken out of her hands.

The problem here is that she may stop confiding in you.

For the sake of the children it's best to report, but she may well deny it, as the children, and it could become worse.

If she doesn't want you to report it, could you talk with someone at the school?
Or ring a child help line? They are likely to offer better advice.
Or you could find a way for the child to safely call the help line? For example by offering to babysit.

SimLondon Sat 15-Jun-13 21:17:15

Please report asap, the kids are in danger.

Bonsoir Sat 15-Jun-13 21:18:40

You cannot offer this woman safe refuge - she must go to the police, of her own volition.

Chubfuddler Sat 15-Jun-13 21:21:06

My husband was EA and violent to me but never to the children. I think you must report this to SS and the police. This man sounds like a fucking loon frankly and dangerous.

Bonsoir Sat 15-Jun-13 21:26:52

Please try to get your friend to report it - it is infinitely preferable if she and none other does so.

tightfortime Sat 15-Jun-13 23:39:58

I agree with Lweji, sounds as if its a cry for help, her confiding in you.

You must report it. You couldn't live with yourself otherwise. She as put you in a tough situation but you must do what's right.

She may hate you, or thank you. Immaterial. She has told you about abuse towards a child, your instinct to protect that child is paramount.

GettingStrong Sun 16-Jun-13 01:02:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GettingStrong Sun 16-Jun-13 07:57:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

anotherworriedfriend Sun 16-Jun-13 08:28:00

I really appreciate the advice, folks.

Last night did go well, thank goodness.

Turns out that her mother has had Stern Words with her a few years (!) ago about how her children were being damaged and she had to protect them.

So, he now does not tolerate having her mother in the house and has gradually distanced the family from her relatives.

She's fearful that if he knows that I know there will be violent repercussions for her.

She's sure he needs to go, but is concerned for him - he won't look after himself properly (gambling, not eating, won't look after a flat) and has told his son that he will kill himself and it'll be their mother's fault. Wow.

She's convinced that if she leaves him or kicks him out that she'll lose the kids because SS would have to take them away as she's failed to protect them.

It's heartbreaking, she's utterly unable to see that she is beign abused too. She just seems to believe that she's a shit mum, and that if she tries to change her circumstances that she'll lose her kids. And, that they'll hate her for taking their dad away.

But, she was talking in terms of kicking him out in the next few days, rather than not. Her worry is that he'll become acutely ill and kill himself. Lots of explanations for his behaviour (crap upbringing, all this is very familiar to him) BUT, she's clear that she can't change him, and that he's damaging the kids.

So, I've left it as "I get that this is really difficult" "I understand you are frightened" "You have been abused for a long time and your thinking is factually incorrect. By leaving him you ARE protecting your kids" and "something has to change"

I haven't put a time frame on it - her DH seems to be calm at the moment (I wonder whether he's bi-polar. A college friend of mine was bi-polar and her behaviour was very similar, though, I'm no psychiatrist), she's actually planning it which is going to take a bit of time for her to get documents etc together.

Found this online too - I've ordered the book and the handbook and will give them to her, she can keep them at work. looks good, written by a police officer, anyone used it, or similar?

Thanks so much for your help and advice. I'm happy to give it a week and see what happens - but, I'm nervous about that. But, she does need to get organised, without arousing his suspicion. So, any notion of him abusing any of the kids in any way and I'll report, I've got the numbers saved in my phone.

So sad for her.

Chubfuddler Sun 16-Jun-13 08:50:36

He will kill her, or the children.

It doesn't actually matter if he's bipolar. The cause of his behaviour is irrelevant. At the moment she is prioritising him and his threats to harm himself over the children and herself. That is exactly the kind if behaviour that gets children taken into care.

TBH - she leaves him and he kills himself - happy days by the sound of it.

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