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Old 09-13-2013, 09:00 PM   #1
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Default Troubling neighborhood issues, practicing assertiveness

Do you think overweight/obese people are more likely to struggle with assertiveness? I find that, with some people I really have a hard time saying no. The strange thing is, I don't have a hard time saying no to my kids when needed, or my family, or my fiance. I feel comfortable enough with them to speak my mind and needs. It's others I can't tell no, people whose opinion of me I should not necessarily care about!
Background-Over the past year we have been living in a small low-income multiplex. There is this one couple who cause frequent disturbances (parties, cops, fights). I found out several months ago the girl has a 3 year old, same age as my daughter. As I was playing with my kids outside, she came out and our kids became friends. She started coming over occasionally which I did not mind because our kids played well and it really seemed like she could use a friend who wasn't into partying. Occasionally quickly turned into daily. Borrowing toilet paper, frequently dropping her boy off with me for "just a minute", opening the door herself after a quick knock. I decided to be OK with this level of intrusion because one day from my back yard I heard her boyfriend tell her he wanted to "crack her skull open", I was worried her and her boy might be in danger so I allowed it to continue. I got her to open up a bit and she admitted he had done things like "jokingly" hold her head in the water and spank her son "several times" for accidentally peeing his pants. I told her that is totally unacceptable behavior and she deserves better and has an obligation to her child. Eventually she told me she had decided to leave but was scared. I can't turn away a person in need like that, so I told her I would help her move her things back to her parents house (she's only 19) with my fiance if and when she chose to leave.
Well, the last three days have been spent immersed in her situation, as I had to call the police on her boyfriend after I heard her screaming. He broke a bone in her shoulder by shoving her into a wall when she told him she was leaving. My fiance and I filed witness reports with the police and helped her move her things immediately (he had to take a whole day off work to do so). I'm proud of her decision to leave and press charges against him, and happy her son will be with his grandparents who love him instead of that deadbeat. Unfortunately he is aware we called the cops on him and helped her move, he was screaming at me as they took him away, which makes me scared for his release because he is still living in our complex (we called the landlord and he WILL be evicted, but he still gets 30 days). Furthermore she is still coming over daily, often staying for hours to discuss her situation, often to ask for rides from my fiance as she doesn't have a license. I realize I am sounding resentful of someone I took as a friend and needs help, and I hate that! How do I draw the line? How to I tell her it's fine to visit, like once a week, but I have other things to do too? I am exhausted from all of this not to mention terrified her ex is going to retaliate in some way. I just want to move at this point, but Fall term starts in 2 weeks and I just want some time alone with my kids and fiance. I want to help people but I can only do so much. :/
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:33 PM   #2
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I don't think the struggle with assertiveness has anything to do with being overweight, honestly. I think it depends on the person. Lots of people have a hard time saying no. Personally, I do it all the time. I'd rather be seen as a little too straightforward than be a pushover (which people have tried to do in the past).

With regards to your scenario, I would be cautious but I wouldn't worry too much about the girl's crazy boyfriend. He's already had the cops called on him once and will be evicted, I don't think he'll want that again. That being said, do exercise caution anyway.

About the girl, it's all well and good to be nice and help her out, but do put your foot down. If you're busy, say you're busy. The next time she talks about coming over, say that your family hasn't had a lot of time together in a while so you'd appreciate it if she came by another day. Ask your fiance to be firm if he doesn't want to keep giving her rides. Tell her clearly that he's busy and why doesn't she take public transport. She can't mooch off you guys forever.

Do be there to talk to her, she sounds like she's going through a rough time, but don't let it become a case where she's taking advantage of your kindness. She has to learn not to depend on people all the time. I'm sure given a little time and firmness on your part, she'll get the point.

Good luck
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Old 09-13-2013, 11:24 PM   #3
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I commend you for helping a young girl out. She needed you.

I'm not sure what to tell you to do about her being around all the time, now. Honestly, I could see myself in your same position. I really don't like confrontation, so I'd probably be right where you are now. Actually, I might get real busy so I wasn't home all the time...which would help you avoid the boyfriend, too.

About practicing assertiveness: I have a history of not being very assertive. Like I said, I hate confrontation, so I avoid it. I think it depends on what kind of reaction I've had from someone in the past. If someone has been even mildly abrasive, dismissive, aggressive, etc. to me, it influences how I behave around them.

I had a coworker whom I considered very abrasive (she quit!). I guess you could say she was assertive, but I found her abrasive. If I was even mildly assertive to her, she shut me down. For instance if she misunderstood a conversation and made a mistake, it was because I failed to explain it properly. To her, there was never any possibility that she might have misunderstood. It really felt like being bullied -- she was always right in her mind, and the conversation could just go on and on. I just didn't want to argue, so usually, I'd just let her have her say, then go on about my business.

Probably not the best way for me to handle things. I bottled up a lot of frustration and anger when she was around. Assertiveness is something I need to practice, but to me, sometimes it just seems like being B*tchy -- and I don't want to come across that way to people.

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Last edited by AwShucks; 09-13-2013 at 11:41 PM.
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Old 09-14-2013, 08:43 AM   #4
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It's a tough situation. You tried to help and now you're in the thick of it. This girl could be seeing you as her savior. It's sad that she doesn't have someone to depend on. But you do need to make boundaries clear with her because as you told her that she has a responsibility towards her child, you too have a responsibility towards yours. And if your gut instinct is telling you that you need to remove yourself from this situation in some way by moving or by cutting all ties with her then you have to trust that instinct.

Look, crazier things have happened. This guy could be holding you accountable for breaking up his relationship. He's already proven that he's angry and volatile. He's willing to physically attack a child. Why not you? People with the "what else do I have to lose" mentality are capable of a lot.

In regards to her, think of it as pulling off a bandaid. First tell her that you have enjoyed getting to know her and that it's been great spending time with her but that you don't trust her ex and can't afford to put your own child in danger, therefore the friendship has to end. Stress to her that it's not safe for her to be coming by anymore! Tell her that you're glad she's in a safer place but don't come back here anymore.

And really, must this even be said.... please lock your doors.

"If you pay attention to when you are hungry, what your body wants, what you are eating, when you've had enough, you end the obsession because obsession and awareness cannot coexist." - Geneen Roth
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Old 09-14-2013, 03:08 PM   #5
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Wanna has offered some really excellent advice. I just wanted to commend you for helping someone in need. I think you're outlined a fairly common dilemma that can take all sorts of distinct forms -- what to do / how to deal when a need for intensive/emergency support transforms into something ongoing/longer-lasting than initially thought. It's really tough not to hurt feelings here. But Wanna is right to bring up safety concerns for you and your child. It would be better for her own safety to not be visiting the complex.

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Old 09-14-2013, 04:25 PM   #6
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I also highly commend you for helping her out.

I think a way to decrease the contact, is to tell her that for her own and your own safety, she shouldn't be frequenting the area where you live. Even is he is in jail, she should be aware that he could contact a friend outside to carry follow/harm her etc. You could offer that she contact you by phone/email instead. I wouldn't cut her out completely because it sounds like she really needs someone to guide her, hopefully she is able to get the guidance and resources to stand up on her own and avoid ending up with a deadbeat again. I feel sorry for her son.

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Old 09-15-2013, 12:31 AM   #7
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for your own safety, I would get a gun and a restraining order against him - in that order.....people with nothing else to lose, having been already been in jail as well, those kind of people are the ones who track their ex's to a friends house and start shooting

I agree that she probably needs someone as a support but if I was in that spot, i'd tell her that i'm not going to be home as often and the best way to reach me is by phone/text because you can always return a voicemail or a text at a later time

and yes, for HER safety, she shouldn't be hanging around that area anyhow
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Old 09-15-2013, 04:44 PM   #8
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Thank you so much ladies. It's a relief to have some sound outside perspectives. I feel newly motivated to stand up for my privacy, and as you pointed out, my kids safety. That part really lights a fire under my arse! I hadn't really considered her still coming over really puts both her and I in further danger, particularly if he might have friends willing to do his bidding, so thank you for pointing that out. It is also helpful to have a little bit of a script of specific things to say to her, thank you for that as well. I would not have a problem e-mailing or texting to offer her some emotional support, as she does not have any kind of real support system, so I plan to tell her that for my kids' safety as well as hers, it's best that she does not come by and just writes me instead.
Alaskan, I did consider that but the trouble is my (and my fiance's) complete ignorance about guns, I fear by the time I learn to use it the situation will be resolved. However we did purchase a military grade spray with a delivery system "gun". I also borrowed my sisters dog for advanced warning should anyone try to break in. I've never dealt with a situation like this and I thank you all for your input!
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Last edited by Lecomtes; 09-15-2013 at 04:46 PM.
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