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to not offer help to a relative who has fled domestic abuse?

(122 Posts)
OohMavis Tue 21-Jun-16 09:56:31

Is it ever reasonable to say 'you're on your own' to a woman fleeing a violent relationship? That's basically my question. I'm struggling with this.

This relative has been in an abusive relationship for over fifteen years. She's left countless times (I mean countless, I can't even remember how many times) and always gone back, no matter how despicably he's treated her and their child, who is now 7.

Since she had the child, me and DH have stepped in each time she's left. Taken her from refuges and had her stay with us. Lent her money. Pleaded with our local council to house her, gave her deposit money, bought them new clothes when she's had to leave them all behind.

It's never been met with any thanks... and she inevitably goes back to him. She has a 'script' she follows - desperate call to us in the middle of the night, she's left, is leaving or has fled to a refuge because he's hit her or their child, smashed things up or threatened to kill her - can she come and stay? Then, she stays, we try to help her, and suddenly she'll be texting him and defending him whenever he comes up in conversation, going back for 'visits' and eventually returns.

The last time this happened was last year. She left our house enraged with DH because he'd told her she's ruining her child's life by going back to this man. She defended him, of course, and accused DH of causing all the misery and problems in her life (long story), and went back.

We hadn't heard from her in a year until yesterday. She's back in a refuge and wanting to make contact with us. Asked to stay this summer so she can get back on her feet. DH has refused. She's apparently devastated and told him that we're the only family she has, she's completely on her own if we don't help. DH is not considering it at all and has told her that he'll provide a listening ear but no more. No money, no place to stay, nothing. He doesn't even want them to visit.

In principle I think he's (probably?) doing the best thing, and she is his relative, but I'm struggling with not helping when the child is mixed up in this too. They are seven years old and being treated for anxiety and stress. They have experienced such a lot of misery in their short life.

When do you say enough is enough when a child is involved?

Sorry - bit of an epic novel. Didn't mean for it to be so long.

CruCru Tue 21-Jun-16 10:00:03

I am not an expert on domestic violence but you have my sympathy. I can understand that a victim of domestic abuse may return a few times before leaving for good but it sounds as though this has taken its toll on you as well.

CruCru Tue 21-Jun-16 10:00:39

Can I suggest that you move this to Relationships? You may get advice from someone who knows more than I do.

MorrisZapp Tue 21-Jun-16 10:00:51

Are social services involved? Seems like the child needs professional intervention.

CrazyDuchess Tue 21-Jun-16 10:01:02

That's really tough - and I totally see where your DH is coming from.

I'd really struggle to help in that situation, but I'd think I would for the sake of the 7 year old. Maybe not to commit any more money, and just spending time together, taking the child out?? I don't know what else to suggest

PPie10 Tue 21-Jun-16 10:01:59

What a sad situation especially for the child. I completely understand your DH position, he has helped countless times only for her to run back to him. I guess he has reached his limit and that's more than reasonable. She sounds very emotionally draining.

LizKeen Tue 21-Jun-16 10:02:59

I think that you have both done more than enough. I agree with your DH's stance on this.

I have been in a similar position. Repeatedly called upon to pick up the pieces and the next thing she is back with him, having more kids and I get a mouthful for my troubles.

Sometimes, you just have to step back. You cannot help someone who doesn't want to help themselves.

turinbrakesarefab Tue 21-Jun-16 10:05:24

Could you offer to take the child for the summer while she sorts herself out. Are social services involved?

louisagradgrind Tue 21-Jun-16 10:05:44

Is it possible to say that you will provide shelter for the child but not her? I know that may not be possible for a whole raft of good reasons!

Somerville Tue 21-Jun-16 10:05:48

Not sure AIBU is the right place for this.

But I'd like to think that if this were a relative or friend of mine, and I possibly could, I would keep offering them a sad place to land for as long as it took for them to leave for good.

I'm sure that isn't easy, but lots of things that are right aren't easy.

If her child has really been hit then social services will intervene. So at the very least, you need to report it and keep on reporting it.

WellDoYaPunk Tue 21-Jun-16 10:07:31

Has Dh explained to her why he's not helping this time?
Are you in a position to offer to look after the child while mum sorts herself out? My cousin stayed with us for several years while aunt went back n forth, st least cousin was spared that.

OohMavis Tue 21-Jun-16 10:08:07

Social services are involved I believe, yes. I haven't seen them in a year but they were 'hands off' (the child was being removed from a certain list?) back then, after a few years of heavy intervention. The child was taken into care once when younger. I don't know what's happening now.

I think I would feel better if I knew there was someone watching out for the child. They don't deserve any of this.

OohMavis Tue 21-Jun-16 10:08:57

Hmm you're probably right, I'll get it moved to relationships.

Gruach Tue 21-Jun-16 10:09:52

From what you say it would be far better if she remains in the refuge and allows the staff there, with all their resources of knowledge and procedure, to help her and give her the strength to move on decisively.

Ineedmorelemonpledge Tue 21-Jun-16 10:14:00

What an awful dilemma for you op.

I think as the other posters say, I'd offer the child support and at least some weekends with you, or time away so the woman in question can at least get some time for counselling.

Beth2511 Tue 21-Jun-16 10:14:51

I fully understand the frustration, although i think i would make it explicitly clear that this was the last chance and if she bkows it you wont be helping agaib. I would also perhaps say you are willing to help but if and only if she takes certain steps like going to the police and changing her number/deleting his. Poor boy!

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 21-Jun-16 10:15:06

It's really difficult to know what to do - because this could be 'it' she could be ready to finally leave him.

OTOH there's a pattern of bouncing from a refuge to you - maybe because it's then easier to go back to her P. In some ways the refuge may be the best place for her, as Gruach says - the workers there will be helping her move forward, but moving forward is hard.

I do agree that if possible you could offer to take the child for the summer - that won't be easy either mind you, the child will be traumatised.

I'd just like to think that if one of my family was in that position, I'd do my best. It can take a lot of attempts to leave. But on the other hand, I can't criticise you for having boundaries.

Goingtobeawesome Tue 21-Jun-16 10:18:53

I'd help for the child's sake.

BastardGoDarkly Tue 21-Jun-16 10:23:17

I understand your dh, but me personally, I'd help.

APlaceOnTheCouch Tue 21-Jun-16 10:26:25

I'd help because ultimately I think it's the right thing to do and because it is incredibly difficult for people to leave DV situations. Bouncing back and forwards isn't that uncommon, she is struggling to break free from an abusive relationship.

ArcheryAnnie Tue 21-Jun-16 10:28:38

You could ring the National Domestic Violence Helpline and ask for advice, telling them exactly what you've told us here: 0800 2000 247.

Good luck, op, and here's hoping that your relative finds the wherewithall to stay away from her abuser this time around.

teraculum29 Tue 21-Jun-16 10:28:48

Not sure what is the best solution here....

but personally I would spent time with the child:weekend out, trips etc but let her stay in the refugee centre.
Maybe speak with the staff as well saying thats not the first time she left and come back to this guy maybe they could help or even make a courtesy call to social services??
maybe her child is lost in the system or something and they dot have support??

WannaBe Tue 21-Jun-16 10:29:25

I would speak to social services and make sure the child was back on their radar. And while I appreciate that she is a victim, she is also partly responsible for continuing to go back when she has previously left.

If she has had her child taken into care previously and yet still continues to go back and put him at risk then she needs to bear part of the responsibility for that.

It's one thing to be in the situation and feel powerless to leave. It's quite another to actually leave and then make a conscious decision to go back, even if you know you're putting your child at risk.

So while I would call social services and would hope that the child was removed from her, I wouldn't offer her a place to stay again either.

bakeoffcake Tue 21-Jun-16 10:29:29

I'd help but explain that every time she goes back to him it takes its toll on you both emotionally and you feel you have wasted time and money. You WANT her and her son to be safe.

I'd make it clear that if she goes back to him it will be the last time you help her.

TheCrumpettyTree Tue 21-Jun-16 10:29:30

How awful for the child, she is failing to protect him.

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