Friend married to my abuser(55 Posts)
I've struggled with a situation for some years now and I just need a reality check/kick up the arse/advice. Also sorry as long!
I spent years in a very violent relationship from Uni to my late twenties. I was completely messed up by it all (unsurprisingly) and had no idea I was in an abusive relationship until it was far too late. I will call him A
Eventually I left after he seriously injured me. Because my boundaries were so blurry, we stayed in touch via our Uni friendship group, although I eventually lost touch with them when I finally told them the truth (some stayed friends some didn't).
Fast forward 6 years and one of my closest friends from Uni (I will call her B) admitted that she was now in a relationship with A. I couldn't cope with it at all and our friendship ended. I was, however, still in touch with her sister (who I will call C) and her husband, (who I will call D) who I had been friends with for years. She wasn't overly happy about A & B but supported her as they were sisters.
It all came to a head a couple of years ago when C developed terminal cancer. All her old friends came back together to support her, and as a result I was thrown back together with A & B (now her DH). Just before she died, C asked me to promise that I would "watch B's back"; that she didn't trust A and wanted to make sure that, in her words, "someone who knows what he is capable of" kept an eye out for B. Admittedly she was at end-stage by that point and I don't know if she would have asked me if she hadn't been heavily dosed up, bless her.
In the intervening years, meantime, I got involved in a second abusive relationship (now divorced thank-god) and had years of psychotherapy.
I am now in a hideous situation of being back in touch with A & B as well as still good friends friends with D, (they live locally) and emeshed in a friendship group where I have to pretend that I think A is a lovely chap! D is very fond of, and loyal to B but through circumstance is also now very close to A and won't speak out against him (they all have children and babysit for eachother, go on holiday etc). I constantly get group e-mails and texts from them all and I'm finding myself getting more and more uncomfortable having to go along with the accepted 'narrative' that A really has changed, is a lovely guy and is one of my friends. (from what I can see and from the way he treats B, he hasn't actually changed at all - nothing obviously violent, but lots of EA)
I feel like I've let my boundaries get too blurry, I am so angry at myself for not having the guts to tell them all to get lost, (truthfully, I don't have that many friends). I also worry about B and her kids but am not sure if I am the right person to help them as it's affecting me in a really negative way. I hate the fact that me and A are now FB 'friends' (because it looks like either I lied in the first place or minimised the abuse). I did try defriending him a while back but kept getting calls asking why he's fallen off my friends list!
Arrrgh! I can't believe I've got myself into this utter mess. My fear is that if I walk away, then I will lose D who I am quite close to and like a lot as a friend. B keeps telling me that I am one of her best friends and how much she loves me. It's very confusing, but I am beginning to feel as though A & B are using my friendship in different ways, to validate A's image as Mr Nice Guy and B to convince herself that that everythings fine and she's not really married to an abuser.
Extremely well done if you've got this far, sorry it was so long and potentially confusing, but...
Do I just walk away from the whole thing and accept that I will lose them all but will retain some semblance of personal dignity and agency over my life, knowing that A is an abusive twat? Is it okay to break my promise to C? (I feel like it is but still feel guilty)
Please lovely vipers, give me a kick up the backside becuase this whole situation is making me feel horrible!
It's okay to do whatever you need to do. In your shoes I wouldn't do anything apart from quietly turn myself down until I'd completely disappeared from view. If your friend who's with your ex decides to face up to things, she may come and find you. But that may never happen.
Wow. I'm going to be blunt here, hope that's ok. I think you should walk away from all of them. It's a shame to lose D but that's a price well worth paying to get A out of your life.
I don't think you should be obliged or guilty towards C because she was very wrong to ask you to protect B. I understand why she asked but you are NOT the right person to protect her when you were so badly damaged by A.
For the sake of your mental health and sanity please please walk away!
I am sure you will be able to make new friends, much better ones, friends without this horrible history and weird dynamic.
Definitely detach from all of them, it's not worth being involved.
If C was genuinely a good friend, she wouldn't want you to risk your mental well-being!
Make sure B knows she can call you if/when A turns on her and walk away...for your own good.
"Make sure B knows she can call you if/when A turns on her"
No, I don't think you should do that, OP. I think it will be asking too much for you to support B after what you went through. Someone else will have to support her.
What kind of "friend" marries their friend's abusive ex, anyway?!
Walk away and look after yourself.
You are doing this by guilt.
You no longer need this group and you are being tortured by being there.
For your own mental health leave them to it.
It's very confusing, but I am beginning to feel as though A & B are using my friendship in different ways, to validate A's image as Mr Nice Guy and B to convince herself that that everythings fine and she's not really married to an abuser.
I think you are spot on with this. Very insightful.
Leave aside any feeling of responsibility you have towards B. Never mind what you said to C on her deathbed, your first responsibility to protect yourself, which currently you are not doing.
I sympathise with having a very small friend circle, but these people are NOT your friends. A is a violent abuser. B has Stockholm syndrome. And D is probably still grieving his wife and not thinking straight. (Have you told him what C asked you?)
Put yourself and your mental health first. Defriend the cunt first, tell B you'll be there if she wants help leaving but being in contact with her and A is too upsetting for you, you know, given that he SERIOUSLY INJURED you and has never even fucking apologised. Tell D the same. You must take care of your own mental and emotional health, because none of this lot are going to do it for you.
Yes it is OK to walk away. It is essential for your mental health.
B knows where you are. When the time is right she'll come and find you (ie when she is going through the agonising process of leaving her abuser). You've done right thing by C, you don't have to be in B's pocket.
D well be collateral damage unfortunately [so many losses in the wake of these fucking abusers!]. Jeopardising your mental health is a far greater loss.
Personally, I would announce why you're walking away - ime of those who made it clear to me my husband was an abuser who, later on, were a beacon in the dark for me as I was thawing from his spell (agonising times ). I was so grateful to them they had had the courage to say something and I held on to what they'd said. BUT you've already made your history with A clear and you're traumatised from it so, again, your mental health is your top priority.
You've done more than enough.
I agree with Emma. It's clearly causing you a lot of anxiety and I have to say I would feel the same. I know you probably feel obligated to C but you have done as she asked. I'm sure she wouldn't have wanted you to look out for her sister at such a large personal cost to yourself.
Can you hide your friends lists on Facebook if you do defriend them both? I'm a bit shocked really that anyone else would notice really. It's a bit strange looking at other people's friends list.
Basically, you don't have to announce why you're going AWOL. But you must go AWOL.
You are only responsible for yourself and any children you have everyone else in this is an adult. A is still very dangerous in my opinion- what right minded person who acted the way he did would want to be in your company regularly and be your Facebook friend? He has not changed - get away from him and this circle. It's best in the longer term to protect yourself. Hope you are feeling ok and things get better for you soon xx
You know you need to get away from all of them. You understand what's going on and that you need to firmly reset your boundaries, by never seeing A or B and only seeing D on occasion if he can deal with that.
B made bad choices and hopefully one day will leave them, but she needs to seek support from elsewhere. You need to care for yourself.
I think you need to drop contact with them. I suspect you are correct that they are using your friendship as a way to pretend this man isn't abusive.
You can tell B you will be there fit her if she leaves him but only if you really want to. Your priority has to be protecting yourself from this situation.
Pure gut feeling is I would walk away from everyone tbh.
Wow. I think that friend C asked the wrong person to look out for her sister. You would be the least well equipped acquaintance of your friend to look out for her. Nothing you could say would be taken as anything other than a biased character assassination of an xbf. YOu would be wasting your breath.
Friend C probably didn't think it through because luckily she hadn't been in that situation.
YOu can't make your friend leave your abuser, and you're NOT obliged to try. It takes a lot to recover from an abusive relationship (I know first hand). Don't risk upsetting yourself, more, by feeling the exasperation and frustration and upset and powerless of trying to save your friend from what you went through.
It was a desperate request from C, and not one you can reasonably be expected to fulfil. If you gave her comfort when she was dying by making a promise you are now unable to keep, well, then you have already done a good and brave thing. For your own mental health, I think you need to walk away. I am not sure anyone in this picture is interested in your input anyway. One thing you might consider, though, is to put how you feel, and why you are walking away, in a letter to D, so that he can: a) understand your position better and b) be better placed to support B appropriately himself, should the need arise. So sorry for what you've been through.
Drop them. Are you sure B isn't colluding with A to cause you immense emotional distress thereby continuing his abuse of you.
D has two choices stay friends and see you without A&B or lose touch with you as well.
Thanks all. I am so angry at myself because I feel like I'm walking backwards. ExH was abusive but I went through the courts, got non-mols to protect me and DD and DS, did the Freedom Programme and had therapy. I accept that ExH has some presence in our lives because he has court ordered contact, but I feel okay about that as I took control of the situation. I feel like I drifted into this.
Truthfully C was pretty high on Morphine when she asked and drifting in and out - if she'd been compus mentis I don't think she would have asked. She really loved me and we were v close and I was so devastated when she died that I think part of me was just grateful to be around other people who knew her and felt her loss as well.
It's only over time that I've started to get angry and just ask "Why the hell is he STILL in my life?". The FB thing was him. He noticed that I'd de friended him and was asking me why. I know he's checked out my FB friend list in the past as it's quite small - suddenly a big chunk of my old friends from the past appeared on his list too, including a couple of my ex boyfriends who he absolutely hated! The more I write actually, the weirder it all seems.
I think I know what I need to do - should I try and explain to them? To D? I suspect I will lose his friendship tbh as I think he's too emeshed himself.
Don't beat yourself up. You see the problem and have the tools to address it from your work to get away from other bad situations! He sounds toxic and manipulative, tricksy! You could take a break from them all and then see if you can continue some kind of contact with D after a good while has passed.
Try not to be angry at yourself, OP. You stayed in touch for a good reason, your love for C and desire to keep your promise, and you probably needed to get to this point to realise that you have to withdraw for the sake of your own well being.
I suggest that on you block A on Facebook, rather than just de-friending him. If you block him, he won't be able to send you messages. He also won't be able to see things that you post if mutual friends like or comment (if you just de-friended he would be able to see them).
Isn't it better for B to see that it is possible to walk away rather than enabling her relationship?
I agree that C asked the wrong person to look after B because of the past relationship with A however I feel that you do have a responsibility to protect B from the abuse. You have had first hand experience of it. Surely you want to protect her from going through what you did?
Oh please my love, just block him and keep him blocked. You do not owe him anything. C would not have wanted you to do anything that would endanger you Im sure.
Don't feel bad. You're getting out now. Ime, despite my horrific history re abusive marriage, I sometimes find I've drifted into an abusive dynamic for one reason or another - usually bcs I don't want to hurt someone, or i'm being loyal to someone (all normal stuff imo). Then I suddenly think 'hang on!!' and realise I'm getting involved in an unhealthy/abusive/controlling dynamic. It's the getting out that is the important thing.
You were tied into this by your loyalty to C and your grief. So understandable, go easy on yourself
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