Four plus years, I've tried everything I can think of to say to her. I've suffered with her through each stage of his manipulation and verbal abuse and threats. And just like her, I was shocked at the new depths to which he'd sink. The worst part is that I believed her every time she said she was really done with him.
I have even been on the receiving end of his wrath. After he went on a tirade against me while I was visiting her home (where he lives), I told her that I will never be able to visit her again or be on the phone with her while he is present because I cannot risk his sniper-like attacks. I tried to lead by example, telling her that I have higher standards for how people treat me.
So for a year or so, she didn't call me when she was home with him. And for the first few weeks of that year, she barely mentioned him, but eventually the repetitive complaining and ranting started again, and I thought the best thing I could do was just listen and try to gently point out that she was in a pattern of abuse; she's not the first or the last woman to experience this; she's not to blame for what he does; I'd like for her to accept responsibility for her own decisions; I'm there when she really wants help; etc. AD NAUSEUM.
I will admit that I railed against him; told her she was not making sense; she was making me angry; had she noticed that her few other friends were having nothing to do with her? The situation made me angry, but SHE is making me really really angry.
I've read for hours online recently about the way to help such a friend. I understand the syndrome. I understand that I'm supposed to not let him win in the isolation struggle. I'm supposed to listen and try to provide sanity and alternative healthy ways for her to spend her time.
I ask myself: is she a good person to have as my friend? Meh. I once trusted her insight and integrity. But not so much anymore. I cannot trust a woman I do not respect. She's had the same problems for years-- all related to her decision to remain involved with him-- and I am so sick of her issues. But her problems and promises keep drawing me back in.
I'm the last person on this Earth- including her own mother- who has not been burned out by dealing with her in this situation.
Am I just being grandiose in thinking I'll be the one there when she finally saves herself? Is it against the laws of Love and Compassion that I hold dear to dump her now? I never read on any of the "Battered Women" sites that it makes sense to abandon a friend suffering in this way. It's not her fault, yada yada yada, but is she not a VOLUNTARY VICTIM and am I not just perpetuating the condition by listening to her, harboring her when she's "had enough" (for the time being), and seeing proof over and over again that she's not going to do anything to pull herself out of this for good?
Last edited by phoenix101; 08-09-2008 at 06:19 PM.
I had a good friend like that who was married to an abusive drunk and I tried everything too.....advice, listening, blah blah blah.
I lost respect for her as you did your friend.....eventually I would just tune most of it out. If there's one thing I just can't stand is somebody in the victim role.....
They don't listen so you're wasting your breath. Some people have to learn the hard way.....they will leave if and when they are ready to.
I can see your point about the "isolation" thing, but on the other hand, as long as she has a safety valve to vent to, she will cling on to the status quo. Rose is right - if and when she is ready, she will leave. In the meantime, tell her you are her friend, but refuse to discuss her situation. If she starts up complaining, then either take your leave or just state that you are not interested in covering old ground. She cannot have it both ways. Go out for coffee, keep in touch, but stay out of her problems. Sera
I also agree with Rose and Sera. The reason is because I have been there. I tried to help a friend once...in this situation...went so far as to help her get a place for her and her kids....get gov assitance on rent and utilities. I was in the process of getting her some appliances DONATED to her because she wanted out and couldn't do it alone. Her complaint had always been she had nowhere to go. Before we even got the appliances moved she told me she wasn't going to live there!
I was so angry not because of the time and effort I had put into helping her but because I began to see with all her complaining and beatings she really didn't want a way out.
I told her she was still my friend but she could NEVER mention her husbands name to me again.
I think you should save yourself on this one and do the same.
I have to agree with the others. There is nothing you can do to help her leave. She has to be ready and willing to do that and she's clearly not.
I've been your friend. I've had friends like you. I knew they were right but then I would question it after the fact. You have no idea the personal struggle you go through being torn between the bs he is feeding you and nagging feeling that something isn't right and all the people around you are telling you he is scum. You are getting it from all sides and you feel worthless. So you cling to the person who says they "love" you. She needs to fight through that struggle alone and hopefully she will see the situation for what it is and leave.
You do need to distance yourself from her problems. You can be her friend without being her emotional punching bag. Set up the boundaries of what you will accept. It may get to a point where you can't maintain a friendship with her and that's okay. You can't "save" someone who doesn't want to be saved. They have to find a way to save themselves.
A few years ago I was married to a man I didn't want to be married to anymore. I had one co-worker who became a friend, and she was in the process of a terrible, contentious divorce. Again and again, I complained to her about my husband and how much I couldn't stand being married to him. She listened politely the first many times. Then one day, after listening to me moan and complain for the 4328th time, she took me aside and said "look, either you divorce this loser, or you quit complaining to me about him. If you're not going to do anything to change this situation, I don't want to hear any more about it". I was shocked, stunned, hurt, and then realized...she was absolutely right! If she could manage to get through each day dealing with the horrible divorce she was going through, I could do it too! I filed for divorce the next week.
Maybe an ultimatum like that could help your friend...I will forever be grateful to this friend for the invaluable help she gave me, the kick in the pants I desperately needed!