To The Woman Whose Friend Is In An Abusive Relationship

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abuse, friendship
Heartbreak

Don't. Give. Up.

I'm so sorry we had to meet this way, you reading my letter and all.

You reading this letter alone tells me you're in a pretty painful situation. It tells me your friend is in a very dangerous, extremely painful situation.

You see her, and you can tell she feels cornered. I'm guessing you feel pretty cornered right now, too, because you feel helpless to stop the hurt she feels. I know, because I've been both the abused person and the friend watching the abuse. It's a suffocating, dark feeling in both situations.


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What makes things worse is that it's so hard to know what to do, who to talk to, and what to say to your friend while she's dealing with all of this. On one hand, you're worried if you keep telling her to dump him, he may somehow get her to stop talking to you. Part of you may just not even know what to say or may just feel too scared to say anything because, hey, it could have happened to you, too.

On the other hand, you feel like you need to say something before things get even worse. And if you do talk to them, you might feel like you're one small step away from shaking them, screaming at them that they're being stupid for staying and begging them to leave before they end up in a body bag.

Worst of all, all you can probably think of is that you don't want to lose your friend to the monster that she's dating. Because in reality, that's what abusers are: monsters. You're worried that he'll drive her to suicide or kill her. And you know what? You have every right to be worried, because that's what abusers do.

I wish I could take a magic wand and make abusers disappear. I really, truly, wish I could. But I can't. No one can do that. But what you can do is be there for your friend. What you can do is tell her that she only needs to say a word, and you'll be there.

I'm going to warn you, it may not be easy. Your friend may actually be so brainwashed that she thinks that she's in a healthy relationship. Your friend may begin to think that you're not her friend, and that's the work of her abuser on her brain.


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As bad as it is, you still need to be there and tell her if she wants out, you'll help her.

You might be surprised at how quick she'll be to defend him. Be patient with her and be understanding. She might not think she'll get any better, and that makes her really fragile. I ought to know  I've been that girl before. Steamrolling her and refusing to acknowledge her feelings will only isolate her more, and will only worsen the situation and make her run into her abuser's arms.

Though the risk is there, you need to talk to her about the way he's treating her. You need to say something and ask her if she'd treat him the same way.

What I've found is that most abuse victims would never treat their abusers the way they're being treated. Once they realize that, something often clicks. And you need to tell them that abuse is not normal, no matter how "normal" her partner says it is. With some hope, you'll be able to get through to her.

You also need to keep encouraging her to get out of the house and do things with people that aren't her abuser. The more she stays out, the better a grip on reality she'll have and the better a chance she'll have at having a stable situation and support network once she does leave.

Above all, do not get on the abuser's bad side or let your hatred of him known. This will tip him off and make him realize you may end up breaking up their relationship, and that can make you a target.


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I've been in that situation, and it's not a fun one to be in. When in doubt, take a deep breath and control what you say. Your friend needs you to do this for them, even if they don't realize it right now.

Though we can all say and do things for our friends, we can't force them to leave their partners, and some never actually do get out. It hurts, I know, but it's the truth. It's scary to think that your friend could be that person. There will be times when you'll want to give up and push them away because you can't bear to see your friend slowly dying from the inside out.

As hard as it is to ask of you, I'm going to beg you to do something for your friend: don't give up on her. Don't give up in a month. Don't give up in a year. Don't give up at any point, because she f*cking needs you and her trying to leave when no one is around her is basically a death sentence in some cases.

Your friend needs you, and in some situations, her life and her children's lives could depend on it. As much as it hurts you, she's hurting more. As much as it hurts you, her family is hurting way more.


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Please, as much as it hurts you to watch it all happen, don't give up on trying to help her. With all this pain she's going through, she needs someone to be strong for her and it's likely that everyone else has basically tapped out at this point. Don't give up on her when everyone else has walked away.

Don't. Give. Up.

Giving up means you're letting her abuser win. It means giving him control that he shouldn't have over her. It means you're weaker than him. It means her life isn't worth saving to you. Worst of all, it means that that's one less person she can have faith in, should she choose to leave him.

You mean more to her than you think, so please, I beg of you, don't let go of her and don't give up.

You need to be strong for her right now. Have faith she'll find the courage she needs to leave and have faith that you'll be strong for her when she finally gets out. And lastly, take a deep breath and know that as long as you're there for her, you'll try to help her leave, and you're doing all you can.

Love,

Someone who's been there.

(P.S.: When she finally leaves him, give her a hug from me and tell her I think she's awesome for surviving it all, OK?)

 

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