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How do I support my friend who is being abused?

(3 Posts)
tactum Sat 12-Mar-16 09:28:14

Please tell me how to be the best friend I can to her in this situation.

Found out last night my friend in a shit marriage with no love has been emotionally and intermittently physically abused by her DH. Lots of background and traumatic circumstances and she did have an emotional affair a few years ago which the H has not got over - but won't go to counselling. She firmly believes as a result of this she deserves everything he wants to give her. 2 kids approaching teen years.

My instinct - and what I said last night - is that she needs to LTB, come n stay in my spare room if needs be etc etc but she clearly isn't ready to do that and thinks she deserves nothing better and leaving would be worse than staying - partly because of money/small village mentality, and partly because he has said he will hunt her down and kill her. She has absolutely no sense of self worth or having the right to a better life.

I am sure she is not going to leave imminently but I have no idea what to do to support her from today onwards. I want to be a good friend to her but my logical brain just keeps screaming 'get out' which she isn't ready to do.

Please - any words of wisdom and ideas on how to support. Really worried here.

PoundingTheStreets Sat 12-Mar-16 10:35:03

Sadly, all you can do is be there. You can't pressure her into doing the right thing because any pressure you put on her can only ever be a poor rival to the pressure she is under from her H because he doesn't have the same boundaries as you. The advice normally given is to simply keep reiterating that you don't like the way her H treats her, explaining why you find the behaviour unacceptable, and to say you'll be ready to support her if she wants to leave, but that you accept it's her decision and you'll support her in it.

There are two important caveats to that, however. One is your personal wellbeing. It is easy to suffer compassion fatigue in these situations and to end up bearing an intolerable level of transferred responsibility. You have to be mindful of your own welfare and step back if it takes a toll.

The second, and most important, is the fact that there are 2 kids involved. They are suffering abuse if there is DV in the household, even if they are not directly the target (although given the link between child abuse and DV I'd be amazed if they haven't been the target of some direct emotional abuse at the least). With the knowledge you have, you have an ethical responsibility IMO to report, even though I appreciate that puts you in a hugely difficult position and has significant ramifications. sad I know it's easy for me to say 'report' and a lot harder for you to do it.

That said, sometimes women who can't leave for their own sakes, will leave when they have a visit from social services telling them that they must leave for their children's sake or risk losing their children.

Not an easy situation for you OP. I feel for you. flowers

tactum Sat 12-Mar-16 17:00:25

Pounding - thank you for such a helpful reply. I completely get what you're saying about boundaries and her perception of the situation.

I am struggling to get my head round reporting it, largely from fear that it may trigger events which will be damaging to her and the kids - a visit from SS will certainly not enhance the domestic mood. But I also need to be able to look at myself if 5 years down the line something goes horribly wrong and know that I did everything I could. Tough one....ugh.

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