General chatter - Best friend in abusive relationship - How can I make her see she's in trouble?




FreeBird3
07-23-2011, 08:38 PM
My best friend and I are 4 years apart. She's 4 years older than me. Our fathers are/were best friends in college and I've known her for all of my life. We are both now in our 30s. She has been through a lot of abuse as a child (i.e. sexual and verbal) on a repeated basis. I was also abused, but luckily (if you want to even call it that), my sexual abuse was only by 1 man/relative and it was for a short amount of time. She and I can relate to our problems with men and our emotional eating tendencies due to our abuse as little girls.

Anyway, she is currently in a relationship with a man who is does drugs; specifically, acid drugs. She called me this morning telling me how she doesn't like the fact that he does drugs, but that "he is good to me. He gives me attention." After a few hours of trying desperately to plead with her to break it off with this guy, she told me that she wants to stay with him. I told her that I don't even recognize who she is anymore. She told me that she's not as strong as me and that I'm the only true friend she'


sheramama
07-23-2011, 08:48 PM
I hate to say it, but there is a HUGE chance that unless he is beating her-even then-she won't see it if you bring it up. Doing drugs itself isn't abuse. I would monitor it as much as possible from the outside and if it gets worse, get directly involved, ie call police yourself. You might lose a friend, but you might also save a life.

Snaplet
07-23-2011, 08:55 PM
I feel like I'm missing something. He's abusing himself with drugs and that isn't good, but that alone doesn't make him abusive...

Is there more to the story?


bee optimistic
07-23-2011, 08:58 PM
It's really tough to be this friend 'the outsider' looking in on this poor situation. It sounds like you friend is getting something from this guy that she isn't getting from somewhere else. Everyone likes to feel loved and needed, and perhaps this guy is filling this void for her. From my own personal experience I've was with a guy that everyone (all my friends and family) thought was wrong for me. He was emotionally abusive and caused many problems for me but yet I was blind to it all. Even when my friends begged and pleaded with me to leave him knowing full well it would be the best thing for me I couldn't bring myself to break things off. When I finally did see the light it was on my own accord and I finally did break free of the relationship. Unfortunately by that time my friends had given up pestering me about it. In hindsight I should have listened to them in the first place because the extra six months I spent with him were h@#$ but I was stubborn. Basically my advice is to do nothing... continue to be supportive as a friend, allow her to talk with you, and as Sheramama mentioned just monitor the situation. If you feel it's violent or putting your friend at risk than stepping in would be the right move. Hang in there, and hopefully she will see the light soon. Your support as a friend will help her to see that she has a full life with or without this man and perhaps she can move forward. Hugs!

FreeBird3
07-23-2011, 09:17 PM
Hey Ladies,

Sorry...bad Internet connection. Luckily, I copied my original statement in Word. Here is my entire original post:

My best friend and I are 4 years apart. She's 4 years older than me. Our fathers are/were best friends in college and I've known her for all of my life. We are both now in our 30s. She has been through a lot of abuse as a child (i.e. sexual and verbal) on a repeated basis. I was also abused, but luckily (if you want to even call it that), my sexual abuse was only by 1 man/relative and it was for a short amount of time. She and I can relate to our problems with men and our emotional eating tendencies due to our abuse as little girls.

Anyway, she is currently in a relationship with a man who is does drugs; specifically, acid drugs. She called me this morning telling me how she doesn't like the fact that he does drugs, but that "he is good to me. He gives me attention." After a few hours of trying desperately to plead with her to break it off with this guy, she told me that she wants to stay with him. I told her that I don't even recognize who she is anymore. She told me that she's not as strong as me and that I'm not only true friend she's got in life that she can be herself with.

My question is for anyone who has dealt with a loved one who has some sort of substance abuse and/or is in an abusive relationship. Do you stick by your best friend? She tells me that she isn't asking for my advice; rather, that she just wants me as a sounding board so that she can think things through. She talks on the phone for 2 to 4 hours (no joke) and repeats herself over and over again. I asked her if her boyfriend has forced her to use drugs and she says no; however, I don't believe her.

What do I do? Do I cut off a 30-something year best friendship? I fear that if I cut her off from my life, then she will have no one but this abusive boyfriend to depend on. What if he starts beating up on her? What if he starts to give her drugs?

She wasn't like this before. She use to be healthy. I feel guilty if I leave her because she's helped me A LOT in life...especially during my 20s. She's my "go to" person. How can I help her without leaving her/the friendship? She's my best friend in life and she gets me....I just wish she would love herself the way that I do and her family does. She says that her family doesn't love her. I know she's depressed and she admits that she's depressed. I just feel like she's drowning and her long-winded talks are making her drown with her due to the negativity that's being passed on.

I'm sure there are some folks on here that have dealt with loved ones in trouble. What do you do? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated! Thanks for hearing me out! I'm really worried about my best friend. I don't want to cut her off becaues what if she ends up in the grave in a couple of years? I will always feel guilty for it if I cut her out. :(

FreeBird3
07-23-2011, 09:28 PM
I feel like I'm missing something. He's abusing himself with drugs and that isn't good, but that alone doesn't make him abusive...

Is there more to the story?


She told me today that she's been dating a guy named Anthony. The fact that she held this information from me tells me that she is ashamed at some level about him. She is depressed and says she isn worthy of anyone better. She's been unemployed for a couple of years now and has health problems.

She says that she gets joy out of helping people and that it's the only time she feels vaulable. I told her that she needs to help herself first before anyone else and that her brother and I can help her. She says it's not the same. I'm trying really hard not to get frusrated with her.

Where's the fine line between letting her be in an unhealthy relationship and actually doing something about it? She told me that he won't hit her because his father use to hit his mom. I told her that, statistically speaking, a boy who has witnessed his father his his mom is more likely to hit his wife/girlfriend when he is an adult. She told me that Anthony isn't like that to her. :dz: He may not be physically abusing her (yet), but if he did, then I seriously doubt she would leave him. She truly believes that she can't find any other man that will treat her better. She was even talking about marrying the guy!

I love her like a sister. I know you guys are telling me to just stand by for now. I just feel a strong need to protect her. I know she's going to get hurt bad. It feels like she is on a path of self-destruction.

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent. I know she will call me again. I'm angry at her for being stupid. I even told her that earlier the phone. She admitted that she knows it's not a healthy relationship, but that he does tend to her needs. I just don't get it. :?:

astrophe
07-23-2011, 10:50 PM
This is sad. I know a person like this too. :(

You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink.

You also have to think about YOU and what your boundaries are. Don't YOU get sucked down with the sinking ship.

If you decide to hang on to the friendship and have figure out where your limits are... stick to your limits and try to be supportive within that range.

It may take a few attempts before she can actually break totally free. Offer her an ear, a place to crash, encouragement to seek counseling, but don't nag. Also don't get sucked into drama.

Hours of phone drama going nowhere? Learn to cut her off after 30 min and play the broken record. "I'm sorry there's all this stuff... I really think you ought to talk to a professional. This is beyond my skills." Don't be her sounding board, don't analyze with her. Because then the abuser is sucking up her life as well as yours! You won't get those hours back.

Dumping on you may help her temporarily... but if it is chronic -- in the long run you are enabling more than helping. Point her to the pros firmly. They can help her better.

Do you think she's stuck in the emotional abuse cycle?
http://www.lilaclane.com/relationships/emotional-abuse/

Instead of focusing on him... focus on HER. Encourage her independence so she's not more sucked in by him. Her OWN bank accounts, her own job, her own apartment, her own cel phone, her own car/bike etc. Celebrate the good she does for herself in that area.

If she wants to date him you cannot do much about that. But you can encourage her to maintain her own space, life, identity. Encourage her to date others. Play the field. Give herself a chance to stay open.

Emotional abusers try to cut off the victim from support from friends and family, the purse strings, transportation, etc. They play the "If you really loved me..." card and ask for a lot of "proving" from the victim. Just loving them isn't enough, they have to prove they love them over and over and over. Mainly because the abuser likes to see they can make the other person jump to their bidding.

She may think that because it isn't physical it isn't "real abuse" yet. It does not have to be physical to be abuse. (And her depression may be exacerbated or caused by him. )

There are local hotlines --- I don't know if you want to give her the numbers. She may or may not call.

And if you have to take a break from the friendship... do it. Save yourself and do a friend break up. It may or may not cause her to see the light, but YOU need to look out for you. Don't need some creepy guy coming after you too.


A.

Esofia
07-24-2011, 08:59 AM
It might help for you to call a drugs helpline. Then when you pass her their number, you can also pass on some useful bits of advice.

It is, unfortunately, true that you can't get someone else to leave an abusive relationship. I used to have two best friends, and one of the friendships broke down over exactly this issue. I didn't tell him to leave his abusive partner (and incidentally, in his case we're also talking about a similar history - severe homophobic bullying at school, hospitalised for anorexia at the age of 8, gang-raped at 18, still anorexic and self-harming as an adult, string of older, manipulative boyfriends), but when he was crying down the phone to me at 3 am saying his boyfriend had thrown him into a wall and saying he was going to leave the guy, I supportively agreed with that decision. Then when he went back to the abusive boyfriend, of course I got the blame. I also had to listen to a lot of very long phone calls late at night, during which he tried to turn me into something between a big sister and a counsellor. They made no difference to the self-destructive patterns he was in. I did my level best to be supportive and talk through his demons with him, but when I last saw him he was still anorexic, self-harming, engaging in risk-taking behaviour, and sticking with the abusive boyfriend. He finally ended the friendship out of jealousy when I met my partner, and while I was terribly upset at first, my partner correctly pointed out that the friendship had turned toxic by this point. I missed him but also felt a great sense of relief.

So do be aware that while her relationship with her boyfriend is clearly under great stress (and a relationship can be in all sorts of messes without necessarily being abusive, by the way), her relationship with you is also under considerable stress and may fall apart. For the moment, your best bet may be to try to focus on your friendship and keeping that going in a way that is healthy for both of you. Losing a friend won't help her get out of a bad relationship, whereas if she has a good supportive base of friends, she's more likely to get herself out on her own. You cannot bear burdens for other people when they are problems that they refuse to solve themselves.

alaskanlaughter
07-24-2011, 02:26 PM
i have been a sounding board for my little sister's variety of bad boyfriends, alcohol abuse and drug use since she was about 16 and was sent to live with me....i listen as best i can...i try to put the solutions back in her lap, like encouraging her to keep her job etc...i have always offered her a place to stay if she wants to get out of her town and my mom always has offered to buy her the airline ticket to come stay with me...

but there have been times that were just so hard on my heart....like the time she nearly drank herself to death and i only knew because one of her friends called me....i called her and she was barely coherent...i called long distance to the police in her town and stayed with her on the phone until the ambulance showed up...police later told me her blood alcohol level was 0.44 which is alcohol poisoning, they said she wouldnt have made it if i hadnt called them.....and then there was the time that i kept a running journal log of all the things her violent boyfriend had done to her, because in the back of my head, my thought was that if something happened, if she turned up dead, i would use that journal to put him in jail

ringmaster
07-24-2011, 05:04 PM
For me, it would depend how much the friend and me have been through before. If we stood by each other through other things, then I would try to remain friends in this case. Yeah, probably one day she will be in trouble despite your warnings, and you'll be the shoulder to cry on when it happens.... but I think that's what good friends are for.

Either way, I'd keep a slight distance but remain friends. I'd try to make sure her boyfriend doesn't know too much information on you. I've dealt with people who had addictions and when they needed money for a quick fix, I was the one that got robbed! People I thought were friends stole things from me just so they could sell it to feed their addictions. And of course the cops in my town are practically useless and didn't do anything. Not sure if this would be the case with you, but you never know.

Mommy42Angels
07-28-2011, 11:15 AM
I know all too well how you feel. My sister has been in a relationship with an emotionally abusive person for years. Eleven years to be exact. This same boyfriend sexually abused me when I was in high school. When I finally had the courage to tell someone what he was doing my sister turned a blind eye and stayed with him just because he gives her attention and she feels like she can't get better. I'm certain he's cheated on her many times, made it completely obvious, and in the mean time treats her like the dirt on the bottom of his shoe until she threatens a split, then he changes his tune for a while.

The best you can do for your friend is continue to offer her emotional support that she is lacking elsewhere in her life. If you can talk her into seeing a therapist it would be helpful. The only power you will ever have over this situation is if you are able to help bring her self confidence up to a level where she no longer fears being alone. She knows she's not being smart, so she will always be in defensive mode if you attack her relationship and she will not listen to anything you say. When she calls you to complain tell her that instead of repeating her problems over and over again she needs to come up with a way to change things so that she no longer has these problems. Ultimately the way she lives her life is up to her.

One thing I would make clear if it were my friend is that I don't welcome people that are using drugs into my house to be around my children. Period. I would continue to be supportive but lay down crystal clear boundaries.

I wish the best of luck to you and your friend. Watching a loved one suffer is painful. I've been doing it for a long time and no one I know has had the power to make my sister see that she could be happier. Don't let it bring you down. Stay strong and be happy and extend all the love you can to your friend.

kaplods
07-28-2011, 03:09 PM
Not all drug users are addicts, and not all children who witness abuse become abusers (most do not).

The risk is greater, but that applies as much to your friend and you as it does this guy. You've been physically, sexually, and verbally abused, that puts you at higher risk for perpetrating those types of abuse - but it doesn't mean you will...

and it doesn't mean he will either.

I am NOT saying that this is a healthy relationship, but I'm also not saying that from what you've told us that we can know that this guy is abusive as you believe.

The odds are that he isn't. In graduate school pyschology classes, our professors stressed that most abuse victims and witnesses of abuse do not become abusers. It's true that their risk is far higher than those who did not have that upbringing, but they still are more likely to not perpetuate the cycle.

I don't remember the actual statistics, but it wasn't anywhere near 50/50.

The drug use also increases the odds, but it doesn't insure them. There's still a very good chance that he's a sincerely ok guy who is troubled, but doing the best he can.


Don't get me wrong, no one in their right mind would encourage their friend to choose this guy. In any relationship, emotional baggage tends to magnify - especially when both people are carrying a heavy load of it.

It can become a whirlpool of dysfunction, sucking both people down, or they can support each other to make a better life than the one they had growing up.

Damaged people often end up with damaged partners. Sometimes because there's not much choice - some men who were not raised with abuse are going to avoid women with histories of abuse or abusive families (especially if the person is still associating with their abusive relatives). They may look at you and your friend as you do on this guy - "damaged goods that will bring a whole lot of trouble."

We're all taught to ideally avoid partners with emotional, physical or circumstantial baggage, but yet that's impossible because we all have some, and we gravitate towards people with similar issues. It may not be healthy, but it happens.

It may sound strange coming from a person with a master's degree in psychology who worked in the social service and law enforcement, but I think as a friend you should give your friend and her boyfriend the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

I worked with very, very damaged people as a probation officer and as a substance abuse counselor/case manager. Most of the people I worked with had histories of severe abuse or witnessing of familial abuse, and yet most were good people with severe problems. Some were perpetuating the abusive cycle they had learned, some were avoiding abusing others by abusing themselves, but most were managing to do better than their parents. Most were trying to live a better life. I can truly say that I liked most of my clients. They were good people with problems. Some I even admired because despite a life of trauma after trauma, they still were striving to make not only their own lives better, but the lives of their family.

Your friend sees something in this guy, until proven otherwise, trust that it IS there. That doesn't mean there aren't huge problems or that she should stay in the relationship, but you can't assume that abuse WILL happen because he was raised with abuse (you know that's not true, or you would be an abusive person).

Get to know this guy as a person. At worst, it will help you understand what she sees in him and will give you more reasons to continue arguing with her. By refusing to see any good in him, your friend is going to believe that you just don't understand, that you don't know him, like she does. If you get to know him, you may see how he is good for her (or how he is not).


If you do get to know him, you'll be in a better position to help them both (or persuade her to leave him). Or you can wash your hands of both of them and not bother with the added stress it will bring to your life.

I don't know if they're good for each other, but I will say that there is a possibility that they could be. Rather than encourage your friend to leave him, I would suggest encouraging her to take care of herself. I would suggest that she get herself and hopefully him too into counseling - couples counseling and individual (and substance abuse for him).

Your friend didn't fall in love with an abusive drug user. She fell in love with a person who is using drugs and who was raised in an abusive home (from what you've told us, the jury is still out, as to whether he is abusive). The drugs and both of their histories of abuse could tear the relationship apart, or they could gain strength from each other to build a healthier life. Only they can do the work to make that happen, but to be a supportive friend you have to give her (and him) a chance.

astrophe
07-28-2011, 04:09 PM
I don't know about your friend... but maybe reading some of this will help YOU.

http://www.speakoutloud.net/articles/

Esp the stages because it gives tips on how to be a friend in that stage.

A.

swtbttrfly23
07-28-2011, 04:30 PM
I'm really really sorry if this comes off as callous, but I'm just having a tough time understanding what exactly he does to her? Don't get me wrong, I think the drug issue is a pretty big one, but I was just having a hard time figuring out what abuse he levels at her (or maybe I'm just reading way too fast and missing it). There's a lot of responses about emotional abuse that I whole-heartedly agree with, I just don't actually get what you're accusing him of. Thank God he's not physically hurting her, is he emotionally kicking her around? What is he specifically doing to her? How do you know?

Again, so sorry if I missed something, I'm not trying to cause trouble here, I'm just trying to catch up to the thread. Thanks guys...