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Friend in abusive relationship, how can I help?

(17 Posts)
SomethingSimple Sun 19-Feb-17 19:55:05

I'm looking for advice.

My DF who is the loveliest person I know has been with her dp for many years. They have a young dc.

Her dp has isolated her from some of her friends calling them names/ creating drama and fall outs. He forbids me from visiting my df because I didn't fall in to line with one of his plans - unforgivable apparently, he's fallen out with her parents and is punishing about her visiting them. He has also fallen out with his entire family.

He has hit her in the past- once that I know of, he calls her names, he rages if she doesn't do as he wants. He makes threats such as, 'don't threaten me with'll see what will happen of you do.' There is a general air of threat. She is on anti depressants and has no self-esteem.

This has been going on for years and yet with each new hiatus she will say, 'this is new..he was never like this before.' I remind her of his previous behaviour and she will minimise and say others might have provoked him etc.

Her mum has said to her that she thinks she is in an abusive relationship and now she won't confide in her as she says her dm is over dramatising the situation.

I'm really worried about her and want to know what I can do beyond listening and holding up a mirror to say this isn't ok. I don't think she'll leave - she has said she thinks they are broken, that perhaps she should leave but then talks about how sad that makes her feel.

I had thought of speaking to her mum to say I share her worries but I think she'd feel betrayed by this and I might risk loosing her confidence.

What can I do? what does she need from me?
Thanks to anyone who might be able to advice.

SomethingSimple Sun 19-Feb-17 20:05:17


Cathpot Sun 19-Feb-17 20:10:20

I have been in your situation and unfortunately you can't do very much at all until she decides to leave ( in my case my friend is still in her horrible marriage 15 years on) . I called woman's aid and that's what they said to me although they did suggest we set up a code so she could phone me in an emergency and let me know she needed help. Another friend also took photos of the bruising the second time he hit her in case she ever wanted press charges. I found if I was too up front about what I thought ( i.e. that she should leave) that she withdrew from me and stopped telling me things. It is very hard.

SomethingSimple Sun 19-Feb-17 20:17:24

Thanks Cathpot.
Yes, she will talk to me but when I've gone beyond listening she has begun to minimise or blame herself.
I can see that the relationship has been such a huge part of her life, they are so enmeshed and I don't know if she can see beyond it...yet.

PavlovianLunge Sun 19-Feb-17 20:26:56

Hi, OP, I can't give you any practical advice, but want to tell you about my DM's friend. Five days after they married, her husband hit her (DM didn't know her then), and has abused her, physically and emotionally, since. At the age of 85, he still threatens her with violence. He is an evil, worthless piece of shit, and should be in the ground. Anyway, that was more than 50 years ago, and they are still together. DM has talked to her about leaving, and has done since they became friends in the 70s, but all to no avail, and now it's too late.

Your friend is lucky to have you in her corner, I hope, really hope that it's not too late for her.

Might be worth posting in Relationships, there are a lot of very wise posters there. Good luck.

SomethingSimple Sun 19-Feb-17 20:29:37

Thank you for replying Pav,
my God that's so unbearably sad.
I'll try relationships - I'll see if MN might be able to move this for me.

heyday Sun 19-Feb-17 20:30:10

If you can ever get to see her alone then let her know that you are worried about her. Tell her that there are people out there who can help her to leave him and that she can always come to you to use your phone /computer to make contact with these organisations or to obtain advice or support.
From what you have said it sounds very unlikely that she will leave him. He has total control over her and the consequences of leaving seem much harder than actually staying. I can imagine the scenario. He treats her like crap one minute but later on everything will seem 'normal' again and she probably wonders if she imagined it or that she somehow provoked him and anyway it's all OK again that he has calmed down and so it goes on. Continue to be a good friend but be careful because if you talk about this frequently then she may cut you out to in loyalty to him.
It's incredibly painful to watch someone living their life like this especially as there is nothing you can do about it. You must contact police/social services if you believe that the child is at risk but I very much doubt that she would tell you anyway.

SomethingSimple Sun 19-Feb-17 20:34:26

Thanks heyday, good advice - yes that's it she has good and bad times - more bad than good in the last few years but her loyalty is with him. Her boundaries have been blown away so often that she doesn't have any reference for what is/ isn't ok now.
She will talk to me, but I feel that is to vent rather than to plan to leave.

PavlovianLunge Sun 19-Feb-17 20:37:28

I know, Something, she's such a gentle soull, and it's not just a wasted life, it's a ruined one. I could cheerfully put the abusive arsehole in the ground myself. The rage I feel, I honestly wish he was dead, and I never thought I would feel that about anybody.

I think she made noises about leaving him when their DC were adults, and the DC pressured her to stay; these were grown women, who had witnessed the abuse. How they sleep at night is beyond me.

I can't tell you how much I hope your friend can free herself from her abuser.

SomethingSimple Sun 19-Feb-17 20:43:17

Oh Pav, "not just a wasted life but a ruined one'" - that's what I fear.

tragic that her grown dcs would collude - but then that's what I fear for my DF, friends who live closer to her try and keep him 'on side,' and there is no outrage for what he does.

I hope she can leave too.

PavlovianLunge Sun 19-Feb-17 20:46:59

DM's friend never minimised; I fear that the fact your friend does this makes her even more difficult to help. I wish I could offer you something more positive, but all I can say is to be there for her. She might not know it, or be able to say it, but she's lucky to have you as a friend.

SomethingSimple Sun 19-Feb-17 20:59:46

Thanks Pav flowers

SomethingSimple Sun 19-Feb-17 21:41:51

MN have kindly moved this over to relationships for me - hoping for more sage advice.

Oddsockspissmeoff Mon 20-Feb-17 19:44:52

Witnessing someone you care about being abused is really upsetting but unfortunately not everyone wants rescuing from these scenarios. People leave these relationships when and if they want to. I've never heard of anyone seeing sense and leaving because someone else tells them they should.

There is nothing to do but accept it. If listening to the venting is getting very stressful it's ok to set limits with it.

butterfly990 Mon 20-Feb-17 20:17:01

This is a useful article.

charliemay101 Tue 21-Feb-17 14:33:15

I am having similar issues with a DF of mine. Her husband is not physically abusive (yet) but is emotionally torturing her, he calls her most obscene names in front of their child, is trying to alienate her from her family, has destroyed her confidence totally, and she is actually starting to believe she is a really awful person. I think she wants to leave him and I think she is ready, but she is terrified of what he will do as she frequently tells me she isn't sure what he is capable of. An issue is, that I am the only person she has confided in about this and I cannot help her on my own. I am pretty sure her other friends and family know she is having issues and isn't happy but no one know how bad it is. I don't want to break her confidence by going to her family (who will 100% support her emotionally and financially if she leaves him) but I am not sure there is another option. Sorry, I have totally hijacked your thread here, and i have no answers - so if you find any, please pass them on.

ShugAvery1 Tue 21-Feb-17 14:40:41

As someone who has been in an abusive relationship I have to agree that sadly there isn't much you can do apart from be there for her. If she's not ready to leave she won't. If he's successful in isolating her from people it is possible she will cut you off if you tell her some home truths then you're completely helpless. I've been her but I still don't envy you at all it must be fucking heart breaking. Be there for her in other ways, try to subtly show her how good life can actually be and that she deserves a good life. Let her laugh with you. That's what I needed really.

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