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How to Help a Friend Dealing with DV

ibonnie posted 1/29/2019 12:46 PM

I have a very dear friend I've known since pre-k. Our 2yos are only a few months apart, so we grew even closer going through pregnancy/newborn stages together. She was a HUGE support when I was dealing with my WS cheating.

Her LTBF (together on and off for almost a decade, but on for the last few years since they had a baby together) is an alcoholic. He doesn't drink every day, but every few weeks he goes on binges. Then he'll be "better" and sober for a few weeks before falling off the wagon. His family enables him.

She says things are "great" when he's not drinking... If only he would stop drinking... He's a great dad... Until he starts drinking and disappears for a day or two and leaves her stranded to make other childcare arrangements (he usually picks up LO from daycare). I try to be supportive, but what can I do/say? He has a drinking problem.

Well, now it's escalated, and he hit her twice in the past couple of months. Gave her a black eye, but he was drunk when he did it, and she didn't think he meant to, he was just reacting, and if only he would stop drinking... Excuses. But it's like being a lobster in a pot, right? If he had hit her on their first date, she would have been gone. Now they have a family and plenty of "good times" for her to look back on.

I don't know what to do. I don't know how to help her or be suppportive, other than to listen. I told her she and her LO are *always* welcome to come over, at anytime, even in the middle of the night.

She's embarrassed and doesn't want anyone to know. She doesn't want to tell her family because she doesn't know how they would react. They're not terribly supportive and don't live nearby, but his family is supportive and does live nearby.

The cost of living where we are is astronomical, and it would be nearly impossible for her to afford her own apartment AND pay for daycare if he stopped supporting her financially. My friend is basically on her own, and his supportive-but-enabling family is very well off and there are lawyers in his family, so if they continued to back their son and not my friend, she'd be at a major disadvantage.

Anyways, I just feel useless. I offered to help her in any way I could. I offered to help her put a lock on the inside of her LO's bedroom door, so if it happened again, she could lock herself in the room. I told her to call the police if he does it again, because she needs to protect herself and he needs to face consequences for his actions...

I know all of her family, but haven't said anything to them because I don't want to betray her trust and I don't believe she's told anyone else. But I feel like I'm complicit now in hiding that she's being abused.

Any advice on how I can help her would be greatly appreciated. I feel so guilty right now, but I just don't know what to do.

wildbananas posted 1/29/2019 13:02 PM

I haven't dealt with this with a friend but I have with one of my kids. Said kid was in an abusive relationship for three years and it was so hard. I helped this kid get to a shelter, get a restraining order, offered shelter, did whatever I could to help. The final straw was my kid being ran off the road by the (thankfully now ex) boyfriend and the car totaled.

From this experience, I've learned that people don't leave until they're ready, no matter what you do or say. My kid left time and again but always went back, sometimes after weeks or months. The biggest thing is be there for them. Keep the lines of communication open. Recommend things when you feel they're open to listening but don't go off on them because sadly, that's counterproductive, even when it's from a place of concern and fear.

One thing we did was have a couple safe words in place between the two of us - one for call 911 NOW and one for "He's listening/reading, be careful what you talk/text about."

It's such a heartbreaking thing. I hope your friend reaches out and gets the help she needs.

barcher144 posted 1/29/2019 14:15 PM

Try to go to Al Anon with her.

She's almost certainly co-dependent and she needs real support.

tushnurse posted 1/29/2019 15:19 PM

Encourage her to see her physician and then ask for resources while there.
Shelter, Therapy, How to apply for WIC, SNAP, etc.
I have zero tolerance to staying with an abuser. If they have physically hurt you, then you are at risk as these behaviors usually escalate.
She needs to plan and have an emergency go bag, with all her important papers, and clothes for a couple of days for her and the baby, and some cash to stay someplace for a few days.

Try not to be judgmental, and be supportive. And like wildbananas said she won't leave until she is ready to leave. Just hope that she is ready before something truly bad happens to her.

ibonnie posted 1/29/2019 16:30 PM

Encourage her to see her physician and then ask for resources while there. 
Shelter, Therapy, How to apply for WIC, SNAP, etc. 

She has no insurance, so she doesn't have a regular physician, goes to an urgent care place when sick.

She doesn't qualify for most of those programs because she makes about $45k, so too much to qualify. But the average cost of a studio apartment where we live is $28,200/year, and daycare average is $16,250/year. That's $44,450. Her LTBF makes considerably more (has his own small business, which is big in Japan), but since he has his own company, I'd imagine trying to get CS deducted from his paycheck would be difficult if it gets sent to his office and either he or his partner are the ones filling it out...

Not to mention there's a huge homelessness problem where we live, and there's usually a waitlist to get into a shelter... a major newspaper just did a whole expose on the cracked/decrepit/rat & roach infestation/water leak problems most shelter have, not to mention you have to be homeless for a certain period of time and on a waitlist...

I have zero tolerance to staying with an abuser. If they have physically hurt you, then you are at risk as these behaviors usually escalate. 

I'm not trying to justify her staying, but I understand not wanting to leave her daughter behind and/or be homeless with her and/or staying in a city shelter with her, as those options aren't exactly the safest, either.

[This message edited by ibonnie at 4:31 PM, January 29th (Tuesday)]

ArkLaMiss posted 1/31/2019 00:56 AM

My father was murdered by my mother when I was 16. Shot him 6 times and watched him take his last breath. They had divorced 18 months earlier but she was always crazy and abusive, even to us kids. He had all 5 of us at the time.
PLEASE encourage her to leave. My father never thought my mother would kill him. Most abuse victims believe that, too. Unfortunately, they're often wrong. She needs to think about what this is teaching her children. I promise poor is better than dead.

ArkLaMiss posted 1/31/2019 01:03 AM

She needs an escape plan and to start putting money aside. She also needs a bag packed and hidden with clothes and important documents, like birth certificates and passports. Also, program the local police department's number in her phone as well as the local domestic violence shelter's as well, under something else. Make sure she has a place to go to day or night, just in case.

deena04 posted 1/31/2019 04:28 AM

Hook her up with her local abuse hotline and advocates. They can help establish a plan and be there when she goes to court. They can also show her it is not ok to live this way.

Followtheriver posted 1/31/2019 12:04 PM


Look up abused women's support groups in your area. They are usually sponsored by local churches (there is no affiliation, just free meeting space) community centers or the local Y. You can go to just listen and even stay anonymous if you wish. The meetings are free and open to any woman who needs support for all forms of abuse.

Collect the information and talk to your friend about going. Make sure she knows that there is no judgment or pressure, just support from other women who understand what she is going through. If she is not sure, offer to go with her if you can. Of course you can't force her to go if she doesn't want to but if you are willing, go to a meeting without her. Let her know that you are going because you love her, want to support her and want to be the kind of friend that she has been for you.

I know that in my area there is a big difference between our battered womens shelters and the homeless shelters. But I can understand your concern. They are a short term solution for a long term problem. Our battered womens shelters and safe houses are in single family homes that are safe and well cared for. You share common areas but have your own bedroom unless there is a full moon. It may not be an ideal situation but in an emergency, it could seem like the Ritz.

Your friend should pack what is called a go bag for herself and the baby. A small duffel bag works well. She should put some cash, a credit card, a burner phone with important numbers preprogrammed in, (they are a good thing for the right cause) copies of birth certificates, passport, her driver's license, a change of clothes. Things that the baby might need, a few diapers, an extra pacifier, a favorite toy and small blanket. You get the idea. Pack 2 and keep one out of sight but easy to get to and put the other in the trunk of your car. Make sure it is not too heavy and you can lift it with one hand.

Your friend needs to document everything if for no other reason than proof for herself when she is gas lighted. It is very important to take pictures of any and all injuries. If you happen to have an extra var laying around, give her one.

Now I'm just going to be very honest with you. Your friend's LTBF is probably not going to stop drinking until he hits rock bottom and with family always there with a safety net along with excuses, he never will.

ibonnie, I hope you will trust me on this part. The physical violence will not only continue it will eventually escalate. It will start happening with more frequency and sooner or later, probably sooner, it will happen when he is sober. It is just a matter of time.

For right now all you can do is be there for her. She does not want to accept what deep down she already knows but hopefully with your support, she will do what is best for her and the baby. Also, her LTBF may sense a change in status quo if and when she feels more empowered. If he thinks that your friendship is in anyway the cause, he will view it as a threat and try to isolate her from you.

I commend you for standing by her and willing to get involved. Both of you are lucky to have each other. I can also appreciate not wanting to betray her trust but there may come a time when she needs more help than you alone can give. So be willing to risk the friendship when you feel that keeping her secret is detrimental. Trust yourself to do what is best for her because right now, you are the only one doing that. I'll be here if you need me.

ibonnie posted 2/3/2019 19:39 PM

Thank you all for the responses, I appreciate the advice and ideas on where to start.

I saw my friend this weekend, but we didn't have a chance to discuss anything (other people around)... but I have to say it's very, very jarring to smile and make small talk with her LTBF knowing what happened. However, didn't want to give him any inkling that I knew what happened recently.

PricklePatch posted 2/3/2019 23:07 PM

over the years one thing I learned is not to talk about the abuser. Inevitably people go back to their abuser and you become the enemy.

Go bag is smart. Also have her start buying grocery gift cards.

homewrecked2011 posted 2/4/2019 03:24 AM

She can get confidential counseling at the DV center. You cannot believe how awesome the counselors are there!!!!

Many of them were in the same situations, got help and now help other women!! They are trained on how to get the woman to start thinking for themselves that they need to be free of the guy.

And also Alanon has phone meetings, the numbers are on their website.

Gottagetthrough posted 2/6/2019 04:35 AM

Some DV shelters have assistance programs to help a survivor get on their feet.

I understand your friend is in a tough position, and unfortunately so many people find themselves in the same exact position when leaving. It’s not just emotionally breaking away, it’s also, “How can I afford to leave”

I hope the local DV advocates can give your friend some good advice.

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