Why Are Good Men Silent When Their Male Friends Are Abusive In Divorce?

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angry man going through divorce

I am talking with a guy about divorce. He understands the severity of the financial abuse my children and I have endured.

"A friend of mine did what your husband did," he says.

"It’s brutal," I say.

"I took my friend out and talked to him," he says. "I told him to knock it off. I told him what he was doing was outrageous and wrong."

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"You did?" I say.

"Yes," he said. "He was hurting his wife and children. He was extremely financially abusive and trying to leave his wife with nothing."

"You’re the exception," I say.

"What do you mean?" he asks.

"No one spoke to my husband," I say. "Otherwise good men all looked the other way as if divorce was an excuse for abuse."

"I could never have done that," he says.

I’m speechless.

This man makes me address something I have asked myself over and over again.

Why don’t men care when their friends are abusive in divorce?

Why do good men look the other way when men do bad things?

What’s up with the bro code?

In divorce, a guy cheats and it’s outrageous. Both men and women agree. Yet financial abuse is totally acceptable. Everyone keeps their mouths shut.

Anything goes.

Food, health insurance, and housing can be abusively withheld from children.

College can be retracted and children told their one parent will no longer pay to send them. Transportation, electricity and other staples can be cut off.

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What’s up with the misguided bro code?

Why will you say your buddy shouldn’t have had an affair?

But outrageously look the other way while he uses, confuses, and abuses his own children to leave their mother with nothing.

Would you walk by a man beating his wife and children?

I hope not.

But you will look the other way while your buddy inflicts severe emotional and financial abuse.

Maybe you should consider one thing. Children understand two parents who don’t get along. They can eventually wrap their heads around that.

Do you know what kids can’t comprehend?

A parent who’s willing to hurt them to hurt their other parent.

It’s devastating.

It’s life-defining.

It is core shaking.

It makes a child question the love a parent has for them.

This isn’t the unfortunate end of a marriage. It’s the brutal realization one parent doesn’t love them enough to do the right thing.

My husband didn’t do a few bad things.

He did unspeakable things.

Things that made it clear he wasn’t a man, husband, father, or human.

He was an abuser, a brutally unspeakable bullying abuser.

I’ve been with my husband since I was nineteen. He was my college sweetheart. I know the guys he grew up with. His high school friends and our joint college buddies.

I know the men he met in his adult life as we raised our children.

I know all of these men.

They are unquestionably good men.

I am not kidding myself. I am not an enabler. My husband defected from a crowd of otherwise, truly wonderful men.

I didn’t like these guys because they were my husband’s friends.

I loved these guys because they became my friends.

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Even now, in divorce, I miss every single one of them.

I fight the tears knowing our lives will no longer be entrenched.

I miss them. I wonder sometimes if they miss me. I wonder if they realize how much I value them. How much I think of them. How much they mean to me. How much I love them.

Even though divorce means we can no longer be friends.

But I also wonder how they looked the other way.

How did they watch a man, their friend abusively bully a woman and children? It’s not something I will ever reconcile. If they were less of men I might be able to.

But they are good men.

Guys who somehow decided that divorce reinforces a misguided bro code.

They convinced themselves it was none of their business. They shouldn’t get involved. It’s someone else’s marriage. What can they do to help? Why should they intervene?

I will never understand why otherwise good men look the other way.

While abusive men inflict abuse.

But they do.

Worse, my children didn’t understand either.

"How do they not know all the bad things Dad has done?" asks my son.

I feel terrible because we teach our children right from wrong and my son is obviously confused. Why are adults not putting a stop to his Father’s bad behavior?

He’s confused watching his Father’s buddies throw back beers with him.

As if his Dad is normal.

As if he’s not an extremely abusive bully trying to destroy his own family because his wife decided to divorce him. A seriously unhealthy man who will hurt his children to achieve his desired outcome.

But otherwise, good men continue to look the other way.

They follow a misguided bro code.

They convince themselves it’s not their place to get involved.

They laugh, talk sports, and throw back beers with abusers they call friends. They say nothing. They stay silent. They watch women and children endure abusive behavior.

In the name of divorce, friendship, and the bro code.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes bout love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.