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Friend is vulnerable and travelling...how can I help?

(39 Posts)
clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:20:03

A good friend of mine is travelling in South America with her partner, with whom she's always had a volatile relationship. I've just sent her a Facebook message asking how things are going, and she replied and said she's had to go to hospital and have stitches because he punched her and broke her nose. I've told her to get out, but she says it's not all his fault and he feels terrible about it, and that she has nowhere to go. I've offered her money for a flight home, or just to somewhere else, but she says that'll only "make things worse". I'm worried for her mental and physical health but I don't know what I can do. Any ideas?

Lweji Sat 18-Jan-14 07:32:13

Why would it make things worse?

clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:36:42

Because she can't see a life without him, so in her mind running away would mean that when they get back to the UK he'd be even angrier. I need to try to make her see that she can get him out of her life altogether, but she's just not in that place right now. I've got her on FB chat as we speak and she's saying things like "he knows I've got nowhere to go" and "out here he's the only person I've got" and "it only happened three days ago, I don't want to do anything hasty".

clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:38:40

She's just sent me a photo. One eye is closed, she's black and blue and she has a bandage over her nose. I need to get her away. One part of her must know she needs help or she wouldn't be having this conversation with me, but on the surface she's not ready to hear anything I'm saying.

Whereabouts in South America is she? We might be able to find a local equivalent to women's aid and find her somewhere safe to go. Does she want to come home? She could phone the airline to change her ticket without oh knowing.

For what little it's worth, I split with an ex while travelling in south America and managed perfectly fine on my own. Is she staying in hostels? There will be other travellers there who will help her too.

JellyMould Sat 18-Jan-14 07:46:22

I'd tell her to find the nearest British embassy and ask them to help her get a flight home. But if she can't see that she needs to leave him, i guess all you can do is keep emphasising that you'll support her when she does leave.

clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:47:03

No, she says she doesn't want to come home. Finding a local equivalent to WA is a v good idea, though, because even if she's not ready to go there now, she'll know they're there. I said South America to anonymise her but her safety is more important than her anonymity...she's in Thailand, but I don't know whereabouts. I'll see if I can find out.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 18-Jan-14 07:47:13

You can't do a damn thing. I've no idea if the British Consul/Embassy in the country she's visiting can help but, in this frame of mind, she won't seek it. It's good that you're there for moral support but just be careful that you're not being sucked into her nightmare. She knows you can do nothing and yet you'll be the one losing sleep over this.

clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:48:19

I've told her to go to the embassy but she thinks they won't help, and she doesn't want to see him in a Thai jail. So I said she doesn't need to tell them his name, but I think she's too scared to seek help right now.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 18-Jan-14 07:49:11

They have Thai jails in South America? confused

clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:49:41

GogitoErgoSometimes, you're right, I know. I guess I just have to wait till she's ready. But I'm worried it'll be too late.

tribpot Sat 18-Jan-14 07:49:42

I would call or email Women's Aid here for advice, clareabouts. In many ways the situation is the same as if she were in the UK - until she's ready to leave she will insist on staying despite what anybody says to her. Whatever the police's attitude to domestic violence in the country she's in, they're unlikely to be able to do much about two non-residents even if the hospital notifies them.

It sounds like he's controlling all of the money. So if you can offer her a way to access some that he can't touch, that would be good. (American Express used to offer this facility in Latin America to have cash wired to a branch). And it also sounds like if he finds out she's been reaching out to you on FB he will stop that too, is she contacting you from internet cafes, or does she have her own device? If the latter, she needs to look at the Women's Aid Guide for covering your tracks online.

clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:50:29

She's in Thailand; I said South America because I was worried she'd see this, but I realise now it's more important that she's safe. Sorry for misleading.

clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:51:38

She's contacting me from her laptop and she's just signed off because he came into the room. I'll send her that link, thank you.

clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:52:12

Oh, and I'll contact WA here, that's a really good idea. I just feel so helpless!

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 18-Jan-14 07:52:41

I repeat.. you can't do a damn thing. If she's still on chat ask her the direct question... 'What do you actually want me to do?' And don't be frightened to say that, if she won't contact the Embassy or involve the police or whatever, she'll just have to manage best she can until she gets home.

Lweji Sat 18-Jan-14 07:53:36

Yes, the problem here is that she's still in that phase where she thinks she can control him.

Keep talking to her about the relationship, let her know how she can get out but don't push her. At least she has a friend to support her now.

When will she be back? Weeks? Months? Days?

clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:54:51

Nope, she's gone now. And I did say "what can I do?" and she said just being there to listen was all she needed. I'm going to contact WA and send her a link and just keep all my fingers crossed that she decides to leave before he does anything worse.

clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:55:09

She's supposed to come back in two months.

Ah. Ok. I know less about Thailand but I'm sure there will be something similar to wa there. Is she staying in places with other travellers/backpackers? If she can, I'd advise her to make some links with other people so that if she decides to get away she can.

I'm sorry you're going through this btw. Must be v hard to be so far from someone you want to help.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 18-Jan-14 07:56:52

Fingers crossed is all you can do. She's used to living like this, sadly. For you it's a huge trauma. For her, it's a slightly worse version of normality. So don't spend the next two months fretting.... please. I'm sure you have enough problems of your own.

clareabouts Sat 18-Jan-14 07:59:28

They're in a hotel; I'm not sure who else is around. You folks are amazingly helpful, thank you! I have to run off and do childcare now but I'll be back a bit later today. Thank you so much thanks

tribpot Sat 18-Jan-14 08:03:40

You could maybe post on the Thailand board at Thorn Tree for some local advice.

TeenyW123 Sat 18-Jan-14 08:24:31

Can you go to the police HERE and show the photo of how she looks with the black eye and bandages? Perhaps they'll arrest him as he crosses back over the border in the UK? He's scum.

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