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'Terrified of Him' 'Treading on Eggshells'

(40 Posts)
FriendofX Sun 14-Jun-15 20:00:06

Please give me advice about how to help my friend. I don't know what counts as abusive but I think my friend is in an abusive relationship. The problem is she has SWORN me to secrecy.

She has confided that she is scared of her DH. DH throws huge temper tantrums - she sort of describes them to me but if I ask any questions she immediately clams up and says quickly that it'll all be fine and that 'DH is just quite stressed at the moment'. She says he breaks furniture and screams at her. She said that's how all the chairs around their table are broken. He hurts himself and throws himself around the room. After the last one he threw himself on the ground and she thinks he broke a small bone in his neck (apparently not as serious as it sounds). He behaves like this in front of their DS (under 2).

I have known her DH for the last ten years and he is quite aggressive on occasion but not physically just verbally. He is also tall and quite imposing. I don't like him much but I generally have to hide that. He is intimately connected with my social circle and always will be (related).

Today we all met up as families at a fete and for about 10 minutes she couldn't find her DH and DS. She told me afterwards it is because she doesn't trust DH with DS. She says he loses it with DS and she was frightened he might do it in public, 'pin him down' or similar. I really didn't know what to say, I just let her talk.

I have only known my friend for a couple of years as she has moved here to be with him. She is 300 miles from her family and old friends. I desperately want her to keep talking so there is no way I can tell anyone else - it would kill our friendship and she will just be more isolated. Please tell me what to do, if anything.

Angie611 Sun 14-Jun-15 20:09:32

This is very worrying for your friend and her DS. They seem quite vulnerable as she is a long way from her family and support. My advice to you would be to be as supportive as possible and strongly encourage her to go to a safe place like a women's refuge. There are charities that help victims of domestic abuse, I can't remember the names of them off the top of my head. This definitely IS domestic abuse and something has to be done for your friend and her child's safety. Who knows what's going on behind closed doors? How long will it be before the child or your friend get hurt?

You can't make her do anything she doesn't want to do, but please try and be as persuasive as possible to make her get away from him. People like that rarely change, they just become worse.

sportify Sun 14-Jun-15 20:10:28

Yes, it does sound abusive. The mere fact that she is covering for him and clamming up talking about it speaks volumes. Abuse is not just about being physically. There is emotional and verbal abuse.
I don't know how to advise you but it might be good to read up on it a bit to see how the cycle of abuse works so you are well armed.
If possible, express to her that if she EVER needs you or to talk you are there.
I'm sure others on here will have better advice but from personal experience, somehow she needs a way out. Things will not get better.

woowoo22 Sun 14-Jun-15 20:10:41

I'd phone social services. The child is incredibly young and in danger. Pinning down a 2 year old makes me feel sick.

Angie611 Sun 14-Jun-15 20:10:56

http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk

FriendofX Sun 14-Jun-15 20:13:12

Thank you for the replies. I did once mention something gentle like 'do you think it might be abusive' but she acted as though she couldn't hear me. I asked her if she thought he might be selfish 'and she welled up and said 'Please, FriendofX, I really don't want to bad mouth him, I love him'. Obviously, I backed straight off.

woowoo22 Sun 14-Jun-15 20:15:27

I think you need to protect the child.

gamerchick Sun 14-Jun-15 20:15:55

Really it's put you in a really shit position tbh because if he hurts or accidentally kills that bairn it'll sit heavy on your soul for a long time.

It's good that she's started talking... Maybe if she knew there was an out or a plan where she could leave suddenly if needed might help make the next step.

PrancingQueen Sun 14-Jun-15 20:17:49

My blood ran cold for that little boy when I read your OP, FriendofX

Both your friend and her DS are at very high risk from the sound of it. Is she aware of Women's Aid?
Maybe suggest she gives them a call when the husband is out. She may find it easier to talk to someone anonymous (although you sound like a lovely, supportive friend).

If her husband is at the stage of pinning down a toddler, and she can't leave her DS with him because she doesn't trust him (even in public FFS) then really needs to act quickly.
The man sounds unhinged.
Please also encourage her to call the police when he starts being aggressive.

Angie611 Sun 14-Jun-15 20:19:02

I read someone's advice to someone in a similar situation and thought it was really good... Ask your friend what she would say to her hypothetical daughter if she was with a man who behaved like this. Might just make her think.

PrancingQueen Sun 14-Jun-15 20:22:30

Actually, agree with woowoo, call Social Services.
Your friend is an adult and should be doing everything to protect her child. He cannot protect himself, so someone has to.

FriendofX Sun 14-Jun-15 20:27:22

I wish I could call her mum but I know that would just get me into huge trouble with everyone.

'FriendofX really blew things out of proportion'. I am slightly in the 'meddling type' bracket of person anyway (I've been known to express my opinions etc). I feel really stressed out after today. She said a couple of times how concerned she is about his mental health.

I should also say: she has organised them some marriage guidance counselling in July. He is reluctant but says he will to go so that she can understand how not to set him off. She said to me that agrees that she triggers him. (I doubt this as I know she is very tactful and lovely).

She does everything in their relationship that involves taking responsibility. He goes away a lot at the weekend and leaves her with DS.

RandomMess Sun 14-Jun-15 20:34:22

All you can do is offer a place to stay if she ever needs it and have all the contact details for Womans Aid etc. ready if she ever asks. Also instead of trying to tell her that her husband is abusive perhaps tell her if she's ever unhappy or worried that he isn't kind enough to ds that is enough reason to leave.

RandomMess Sun 14-Jun-15 20:36:17

I missed the violence to the ds shock

AnyFucker Sun 14-Jun-15 20:38:11

you can't save her but you could get some help for her son

please report to SS

Thingsthatmakeyougohmmmm Sun 14-Jun-15 20:56:50

The problem is I think, that even if she leaves him and takes DS, if he pursues access through the court, unless she can 'prove' that he has been violent towards the child (very hard to do) then he will almost certainly be granted unsupervised access to the child. Even if she can prove it he will get supervised access, which overtime will grow to unsupervised as he will pretend to have amended his ways. This I believe is the number one reason women feel they cant leave an abusive relationship if they have children. Yes its damaging for a child watching a dysfunctional relationship, but when you are terrified of what might happen to them when left alone with the abuser, staying and trying to minimise and 'police' alone time seems the safer option for the child. ( I am not saying it is, just that when faced with that choice it seems like it). Please correct me if I am getting this all wrong though, would hate to give incorrect advice in a serious situation.

trackrBird Sun 14-Jun-15 21:20:07

will to go so that she can understand how not to set him off. She said to me that agrees that she triggers him.

Those thought processes are sadly not unusual in abusive relationships - as is the idea that the abuse doesn't count because 'he's stressed at the moment' (or 'he can't help it, it was his terrible childhood')..

I agree - do speak to social services, anonymously.

But I think it best to avoid the word 'abuse' with your friend. She will shut you down. Ask her how she feels about what happens. Tell her calmly when you think her DH is out of line. Tell her what's happening isn't normal. But you will have to let her lead the way, and only respond to what she tells you. If she retreats, back off, till next time.

It really is a tightrope, and I know from experience how stressful and frustrating it is to try and support someone in this situation. Have a look at the Women's Aid website for advice to supportive friends:
www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-violence-articles.asp?itemid=1296&itemTitle=Support+for+family+and+friends+of+women+experiencing+abuse§ion=00010001002200410001§ionTitle=Articles%3A+domestic+violence

FujimotosElixir Sun 14-Jun-15 21:28:06

this is a very disturbing thread plz phone ss, im just thinking of my ds in that situation (se age) quite upsetting sad

BerylStreep Sun 14-Jun-15 21:28:51

As well as the good advice already given, I would suggest that you ask her not to ever tell her husband that she has discussed this with you.

I had a friend who was in a violent, abusive relationship. When her boyfriend found out she had discussed it with me, he made sure I was cut off and that she never saw me again. She married him a couple of years after that. sad

FriendofX Sun 14-Jun-15 21:32:59

Does anyone know what will happen at the couple counselling session? IMO he needs serious help for his anger management but I am worried that this has been made into a 'them' problem not a 'him' problem.

If I were to phone social services it could ONLY be me who rang. He will know, she will know, I will be cut off.

cantthinkofnewname Sun 14-Jun-15 21:51:47

I think things view is an important one. This is the reason I stayed with my EA ex for longer than I wanted because I was so worried that he'd get unsupervised contact (he threatened to harm the DCs, and was very EA, but I could not prove anything). When I was trying to extricate myself and my DCs from him, SS intervention would have made things much worse. SS would likely have demanded I leave him while family courts would have said I had no proof of him being EA, making threats etc, and given him unsupervised contact. This is the way the system is set up I am afraid. There are no easy answers and, of course, if there is a risk to life or limb the police should be involved, but your friend probably needs help to plot her escape carefully and/when she feels able to. I relied heavily on one friend in particular when I was making plans to leave. She was an absolute Godsend.

Ineedtimeoff Sun 14-Jun-15 22:02:55

I think you need to make your friend aware of how damaging and dangerous it is for her child to be exposed to domestic violence as well as for herself. Here is a link that gives a brief summary. Sorry it's an American website. Perhaps this is a way in?

www.domesticviolenceroundtable.org/effect-on-children.html

Why don't you call the NSPCC and talk over your worries? They will be able to advise you on what you should do. As for me, my worry would be for that child. He is so vulnerable.

woowoo22 Sun 14-Jun-15 22:50:02

But by phoning SS then hopefully the child will get help?

His father is being horrendous and his mother is not in her right mind just now.

What an awful situation.

cestlavielife Sun 14-Jun-15 23:23:01

If he is stressed he can speak to his gp...ie she could suggest he goes to gp . at least acknowledging there is an issue. ..

Throwing himself around suggests he may have some mh issue...my exp did stuff like that when he was in mh crisis... he may be abusive yes but may also have some kind of mh issue.. you could suggest to her he goes to gp / calls 999 nx time he throws himself around...

Ask her "how do you feel when he breaks things?" . How does ds feel when he shouts ? Let her know where she can go if she worried or scared ... Keep saying things like "it isn't ok to break things do you think you could tell the gp so he gets some help, maybe he has a problem? So you reinforce that it is not normal. .and maybe get her to tell eg gp.. " also tell her she can go to gp herself and tell gp what is happening.

but you know him fo r ten years...has he changed or always been like this ?You could speak to your gp and tell your gp in confidence what you have heard. . Is there a health visitor involved ?

If she goes to the couselling and the counsellor is good then they might spot what is going on...eg offer her individual session. Encourage her to go to the counselling and to be honest about broken chairs etc. But ideally in individual session. ..

cestlavielife Sun 14-Jun-15 23:32:52

Also if he is self harming "hurting himself "then tell her if he does this again she needs to call 999 to get help and get him assessed. That they can help him. . If you present it as him being helped it might go down better.

Ask her if she has her own mobile.

Tell her that hurting himself means he isn't well and needs help. Ask her if he has asked her not to tell anyone ?
Also establish a code word or text...so if she texts you saying "I need to put the bins out " you call 999 and send police over if he is having a throwing episode...he needs to be caught in the act...

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