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Should I just drop it?

(7 Posts)
LunaHardy Thu 28-May-20 13:09:18

Need some advice here. A good friend of mine called me a few months ago late one evening, she was in floods of tears and said she had walked out of her house. Needed a friend. We don't live nearby but I drove about 40 mins to meet her halfway. We met up and she was an emotional wreck, she poured her heart out to me and said her marriage with DH had gone sour, he was favouring his biological child over her child from previous relationship. Said he had been looking in her phone, hiding her gym clothes as they were too revealing, making passive aggressive comments to her and generally being a lazy, nasty twat. They had argued and a fight broke out, she left and made phone call to me. She said she was unhappy and wanted to leave him but was worried about kids and money. I was supportive and gave her advice about women's aid and shelters etc. She decided to go home that night as she was worried about the kids. I said please keep in touch, come to mine if you must. I felt shitty that I didn't do more. Ever since then she's been acting as if it never happened, we speak regularly and I always ask how things are, but conscious of the fact he looks at her phone. I outright said (when I knew she was alone) "how are things with DH now? What happened after the fight? Are you and kids okay?" She said how they had spoke and he was very sorry, things had got better. Didn't say anything else about it. We were doing a group zoom during lockdown and he appeared behind her and put his hands on her shoulders, saying hi to us all. It felt really odd. What do I do? Do I keep pressing her or just accept that she's clearly not ready to leave yet? Do I just hope she will reach out to me again if it happens again? I couldn't live with myself if something bad happens and I didn't do more.

OP’s posts: |
Sunflowersok Thu 28-May-20 13:18:47

I have a friend who has been like this on and off too with her partner, and now they are getting married. She didn’t seem too excited about it. I’ve told her a lot of times she is worth more. She used to often avoid talking about it. Met up with her finally and said I’m worried and asked if she was happy and marriage is a big commitment. She said she was.

That’s all I can do really!

People will not leave a relationship until they are ready to leave, I’d advise not to keep mentioning it as this may push her away from you. People are so blind in love. Let her know somehow that you are there if she needs you and leave her to figure it out

LunaHardy Thu 28-May-20 13:25:57

@Sunflowersok yeah you're right. Some of the things she told me that night just worried me. She told me she felt trapped and he was controlling. Even before lockdown, if we met up he would ring and text her constantly, asking when she was back, guilt her into coming home early etc. I haven't mentioned it directly, just often ask how she is and how are the kids, just general conversation. She doesn't even mention him in conversation now, I feel as though she's ashamed she went back.

OP’s posts: |
user1635482648 Thu 28-May-20 13:34:03

The advice here is really good, please give it a read:

www.womensaid.org.uk/the-survivors-handbook/im-worried-about-someone-else/

It is really important that you don't pressure her or try to make the decision for her; leaving an abusive relationship is only really successful when the victim is supported and enabled to decide for herself that leaving is right for her. Not when others try to tell her to leave or impose it upon her.

In the meantime you don't want her to become isolated from you. Maintain a relationship where she trusts you, feels safe with you and doesn't feel judged by you (either directly or indirectly - please be very careful not to criticism him as she may take that as criticism of her for being with him).

If it ever comes up use questions that give her a chance to open up if she feels able, e.g. "How did you feel when he did that? " rather than giving your own opinion as such.

If she describes something controlling /abusive to you and she dismisses it, it is ok for you to validate that she doesn't need to minimise. E.g. If he has been hurtful/controlling and she tells you and then says "but I need to stop being sensitive" etc then responding with "oh, I think I'd be pretty upset if somebody did that to me" is less threatening and more helpful than "he's being a bastard / abusive".

There's an element of brainwashing involved, the only way to begin unravelling it is very gently and keeping your friend in control.

Otherwise you're replicating what he does - even if your motivations are out of concern it's still going to feel like control to her. And that undermines the idea that his form of control is wrong and worth leaving over, if her friends and everyone else treat her the same way. Why leave a controlling man if being controlled by people who say they care about you is normal? Your "job" is to do the opposite and normalise being empowered to control her own life and think for herself.

user1635482648 Thu 28-May-20 13:38:23

She doesn't even mention him in conversation now, I feel as though she's ashamed she went back.

Entirely plausible. So just be gentle and mindful of that when you talk to her.

She is likely to be very tuned in to any criticism of him as judgement and criticism of her, so be very cautious about what you say, let her lead and be there when she needs you.

I would view that night when she came to you as a stepping stone in her journey to breaking free. It will take time, but it is a sign she has started processing what's going on. As long as that's not disrupted it will keep going on in the background until she's ready to think about taking another step.

LunaHardy Thu 28-May-20 13:39:06

@user1635482648 thank you. That's really helpful advice. I'll just be there as a friend and hope that she opens up again so I have an opportunity to be supportive. I will have a look at the link you shared too. Thanks.

OP’s posts: |
Sunflowersok Thu 28-May-20 13:52:08

Yeah she will be ashamed won’t she? I remember getting back with the ‘abusive’ ex and I didn’t tell anyone about it for ages confused

You seem like a great friend and she seems like she’s in a very vulnerable position and needs support rather than pressure. I’d rather be the friend she feels safe with and comes to when she really does need it than be the stern friend who she can’t open up to for her own safety. Maybe concentrate more on boosting her self esteem and empowering her, making her laugh and showing her what she deserves, she might eventually clock on that she deserves so much more.
I hope in time she sees herself for what she’s worth and finds someone really really lovely.

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