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Worried about my friend (and her children); not sure what, if anything, I can do

(7 Posts)
SelectAUserName Fri 07-Mar-14 09:50:45

Apologies in advance: my OPs are always long because I don't like to dripfeed.

I have a married friend of about ten years' standing. She has had problems on and off throughout her marriage, mainly because her DH appears to be a manchild who never takes responsibility for anything and is a bit of a Walter Mitty character. Periodically she will state that she's had enough and it's over, but they didn't ever split up. They have three young DCs.

My friend does have quite deep-rooted self-esteem problems due at least in part to her size. She has always been large, and put on a lot of weight during her pregnancies which has stayed on. Being factual, not judgemental, she is morbidly obese.

At the turn of the year she said she was filing for divorce. A couple of weeks later she started telling us about a new man, real smitten kitten stuff - he's perfect, he likes everything she likes etc. I said it was great to hear her so happy, but maybe be prepared to take it slowly under the circumstances, if he's the right man he'll understand waiting yadda yadda. She said they'd already had that conversation and he just wants to look after her and her children, he understands she might have trust issues after her DH but he isn't going to let that push him away. Now I might be being wildly overcautious but that waved if not a red, then at least a pink flag for me after such little time.

I asked where she'd met him and she told me she had registered on a dating website for larger women. Over the next couple of weeks it has become apparent from other things she has said that it isn't so much a dating site as a fetish site. This man has told her he can get her some modelling work and wants to introduce her to his photographer friend. I reiterated again the note of caution, trying very hard to couch it in "you're still coming out of a long relationship, just make sure you don't give more of yourself than you feel comfortable with at this early stage" terms rather than "this man is pressing all my weirdo buttons!" which is what I want to say. She said something else I found worrying, along the lines of "yes, he thought you and X [another friend] wouldn't understand."

I've just had another email from her and she's going to introduce him to her children this weekend. I don't think for one moment he's a child abuser or anything, but I'm worried that this is too soon for lots of reasons. But they're her children and it's her decision and I have to keep my sticky beak out, don't I?

I want to reply to her email asking if she thinks he would still be interested in her if she slimmed down to a size 10 but that feels cruel.

What can I do? Can I do anything? This feels like a car crash waiting to happen and I feel so helpless.

Funnyfoot Fri 07-Mar-14 09:57:43

Tell her that she is an adult and what she does is down to her. Then say "whatever you do ask yourself, would you want your daughter to do it?"

I did this with my friend who was in a new relationship and the red flags were clearly there in regards to EA and control. I wasn't able to change her mind no matter how much I pointed them out but when I put that sentence to her she began to look at things he said/did differently. She also questioned her acceptance of his behaviour and whether she would want her daughter to be in such a relationship. Her answer was no and she ended it.
Afterwards when she was away from the hazy glow of a new relationship she could se more clearly and admits she had a lucky escape.

pictish Fri 07-Mar-14 09:58:43

I understand your reticence here completely OP. O would feel exactly the same. However, owing to her being the smitten kitten, unfortunately nothing you are sensibly telling her will go in...particularly if he is already prepared with a counter attack, as it seems he is.
Her self esteem is low, and she wants more than anything to believe that he is as lovely as he puts over he is. She is creating a fantasy around him because she wants so badly for it to be the truth. Nothing will disillusion her but bitter experience I'm afraid, and that's when good friends step in - to help pick up the pieces. x

oldgrandmama Fri 07-Mar-14 10:01:47

Hmmm, I'd be very wary were I your friend. Red flag madly waving about this man wanting to introduce her to a 'photographer friend'. It may be all fine and dandy, but your friend needs to be careful that she isn't being set up for something she'll regret, i.e. posing for photographs that'll be used on websites that appeal to certain interests - nothing wrong with certain interests, so long as they're legal, but they may not be websites you friend cares to be on. In short, she may be exploited. The fact that the man made the comment about 'you and X' not 'understanding' rings a big clanging warning bell.

Tough one. Do you make your worries clear or leave her to it? Don't know. I'm sure other MNs will be more helpful.

jugofwildflowers Fri 07-Mar-14 10:15:43

Your friend is acting utterly irresponsibly especially as a mother of small dc. But she is in that starry loved up phase so anything you say that isn't gushing would be taken as criticism.

Reverse psychology is best. Go along with her enthusiasm and yet guide her into safe practices. For example, ask for his name, address and place of work and do an internet search. Find out if he is on the sex offenders list by googling her the link and asking to check. If she isn't interested in even checking then I would have grounds to question whether she was really a friend.

Then you have reason to let everyone know your friend could potentially be putting her dc in danger.

It's not until you do something like become a Beaver helper or your child joins such an organisation do you realise every single adult in that family has to be CRB checked. And for good reason.

The amount of abuse that has gone on and is going on is staggering so keeping the dc safe should be the first priority.

Charley50 Fri 07-Mar-14 20:44:49

Jug- what do you mean by...
"It's not until you do something like become a Beaver helper or your child joins such an organisation do you realise every single adult in that family has to be CRB checked. And for good reason. "

I help out at cubs. I've been police-checked; my partner hasnt. I don't understand your point?

jugofwildflowers Sat 08-Mar-14 09:31:12

Is your son a cub? If so the adults in a family would have been crb checked (or that is the procedure in this area) as they are invited to family camps etc.

I was stunned and horrified at the levels of child sexual abuse in organisations like this before these checks were made compulsory, I am sure most people were, like me, completely naiive about it.

The police recommend any woman with dc to thoroughly check out any potential new partner as the level of child porn in circulation would make it available to anyone.

Disgusting and horrifying. There was a thread on here last week or so about the 'too good to be true' bf who had decorated the op's dd's bedroom and her friend did a search and found out the bf was on the sex offender's list.

What made it worse was the op said she was educated, sensible and a teacher and yet still fell for the charms of a sexual predator. Rather than lose her new bf she came on mumsnet to justify keeping him at the expense of keeping her dds safe!!

You would think women with dc would want to protect their dc like a lioness would. Unfortunately in cases like this and in your friend's case op it is sadly not true.

A lot of women put their love lives first (and men) before their dc.

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