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Please help me help my friend.
July 1, 2008 12:05 PM   Subscribe

My friend has just confided that her new husband is often verbally abusive, and occasionally physically abusive. I honestly don't know how to help.

My friend (call her Leah) and her husband (call him Rob) have a fairly intense relationship. They argue a lot- he's older than her and has been single a long time, so his ability to compromise has perhaps been compromised- plus he has a bit of a "lose temper, then repress it and move on" way of dealing with conflict. On the other hand, she likes to talk everything out immediately, lengthily, and sometimes loudly, which means she sometimes gets in his face and forces him to talk even when he wants to leave. There's a bit of an ongoing power struggle in the marriage. She's physically tiny; he's large and a trained boxer who loves hunting and martial arts.

Several times during their 3-year courtship, and now almost 2-year marriage, she hinted to me that he can be a little scary when he loses his temper and that he can be cruel and sometimes call her names. I didn't take the hint (oh, the guilt). Last week, she hinted at it again and admitted that when he's mad he calls her a c*nt. Woah. I finally took the hint and asked if he had ever hit her and she just burst into tears.

So as far as I know, there have been only two moments of physical abuse:
Once, before the marriage, they were arguing and he shoved her so hard that she hit her head on a doorframe. The second time was very soon after the wedding, when they had a huge screaming match. He tried to leave the room, she barred his way, yelling & swearing at him (the first & only time she ever treated him the way he habitually treats her), and he slapped her.

He outweighs her by a good 100 lbs. Since the slap he hasn't hit her but they fight a lot, and she says she doesn't trust him and is scared of him. Understandable.

What do I do?

He has a gun license and a number of hunting rifles in a locked gun cabinet in their apartment. She believes that if she tells a therapist about him hitting her, the therapist will be obligated to have his gun license revoked, and she can't imagine being the one who takes away the hobby by which he defines himself. I don't think the guns are an obvious threat to her safety- they're in a locked cabinet and as far as I can tell, in his mind, they are definitely for hunting game- but I would hate to plan my next action on a hope like that and, God forbid, be proved wrong.

They've been married such a short time, and when their marriage is good they seem to be a perfect match. But he has a deeply chauvinistic streak and a violent temper, and she's a firebrand feminist whose method of dealing with conflict seems to really get his back up.

After the slap, he agreed to do an anger management home work program, but he let it fall away after barely making a dent in it. They saw a few marriage counsellors but as soon as each professional agreed with Leah, Rob suddenly didn't like that therapist any more. To his credit, she says Rob told her after the slap to take whatever action she felt necessary, and that he wouldn't be mad if she told people about it- but Leah was so ashamed that she didn't tell anyone until now, over a year later. Rob told only one person, their close mutual friend, who's a professional therapist- and for some reason, that woman never mentioned it to Leah at all, even though she and Leah are close friends.

Leah says I'm the only person she's told because she didn't want her friends to hate Rob, and she really wants to try to save the marriage. I believe she's deeply in love with him, and when things are good, I can see why. But on the other hand, I actually don't like him that much, even before finding out about the abuse- I think he's childish, petulant, selfish, and lacks self-awareness. For instance, when she told him, "Calling me a c*nt is verbally abusive," he responded, "Well you abuse me, too." (I honestly believe her when she says she doesn't; she says the worst thing she ever tells him is that he's acting like a child.)

So.... I really, really hope they split up, and soon. But that's her decision to make. In the meantime, how can I be a good friend to her?

So far, I've told her:
It's not her fault,
It's ok if the marriage doesn't work out, she doesn't have to tell people why unless she wants to, and nobody will judge her for it,
To think of the advice she'd give me if I told her my partner had slapped me (she'd have my suitcases packed inside an hour),
To let him leave the room during fights because it might be his last resort of self-control, and maddening as it is, it's better to be ignored than punched,
I gave her my housekey and told her my house was hers at any time, day or night,
and to take every precaution to avoid getting pregnant.

What else can I do? I can't stop thinking about this.
Thanks.

Private responses can go to how.can.i.help.her@gmail.com.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (35 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
you can't make someone leave. harping on the fact that they need to leave will also keep some in a shitty situation longer than they should be just to prove they're right or they're in control of their own life. keep being a friend. your friend could probably do with some solo counseling to help her understand why she needs the turmoil of these fights.

also, i know you say she's not verbally abusive to him, but getting in his face, getting "loud", not allowing him to leave a room, and screaming swears at him sounds far worse than being called a cunt from time to time. she needs anger management training too it seems.
posted by nadawi at 12:12 PM on July 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Sometimes being a friend is knowing when to help. Sometimes being a friend is knowing when you are unable to help.

The problems you describe do seem two-sided, and it seems like something where couples therapy would be very much needed. I think as you are not a trained counselor the best you can do is be a shoulder for her to lean on, be supportive of her, and suggest therapy, either couples therapy for both of them, or individual therapy for her alone if he won't go with her. Sometimes if one person goes the partner will eventually join in as a backdoor to couples therapy.

It does not seem like an imminent-violence situation where you must involve the authorities or he may harm her, the violence is rare. Not to not take it seriously but it's not nightly beatings that would involve an intervention.

Good luck, I'll keep a good thought for you and your friend.
posted by arniec at 12:19 PM on July 1, 2008


Have her call the the National Domestic Violence Hotline and talk to someone. At least give her the number: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Let her call from your house if she is scared he might find out. They can help guide her.
posted by studentbaker at 12:20 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


It sounds like she's looking for options. You should see if there is a battered womans shelter or group in the area in case things go dramatically sideways, usually you can reach out to them anonymously. Probably best thing you can do is be supportive of her decisions, keep her grounded in reality and make sure her physical well being isn't being compromised. For better or worse she's an adult and will have to make her own decisions when it comes to her marriage and relationships.
posted by iamabot at 12:21 PM on July 1, 2008


Seconding everything nadawi said.

She definitely has anger management issues as well, and they both need therapy. Doesn't sound like something relationship counseling could help with, given the above.

And you can't solve any of those problems.

Sorry.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:23 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


If there are guns in the home and he has hit her, she is not safe. She needs to speak to a professional ASAP. You should call the National Domestic Violence Hotline now at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

I don't care what names she's called him or how she's behaved. This can, and usually does escalate. If she's afraid, she's probably right.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:26 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Encourage her to get help, leave, and all the obvious steps. Recognize that she probably (statistically speaking, at least) won't. Support her and offer her a safe place to stay if she needs it, and encourage her to take control of her situation.
posted by jenkinsEar at 12:28 PM on July 1, 2008


One thing that set of alarms for me (uh, besides the obvious) was this:

"For instance, when she told him, "Calling me a c*nt is verbally abusive," he responded, "Well you abuse me, too."

Blaming the victim is a totally classic tactic in domestic abuse scenarios.

I know these situations are tough, and I know they do have some good times, but there is absolutely no justification for the kind of abuse your friend is taking, and, unfortunately, it will only get worse.

You're being a good friend by being supportive now, but I would encourage her to call a hotline like the one studentbaker suggested, and continue to be supportive and non-judgemental through whatever happens next. Leaving/confronting an abuser is an incredibly very process, but having someone there to rely on for support with be incredibly helpful for your friend.
posted by nuclear_soup at 12:32 PM on July 1, 2008


but Leah was so ashamed that she didn't tell anyone until now, over a year later.

They saw a few marriage counsellors but as soon as each professional agreed with Leah, Rob suddenly didn't like that therapist any more.

Leah says I'm the only person she's told because she didn't want her friends to hate Rob


I have to add, these three statements are classic signs of abuse. Remember, she may be minimizing things to you still, in order for her to mediate her shame and prevent you from "hating Rob".
posted by Sophie1 at 12:34 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't care what names she's called him or how she's behaved. This can, and usually does escalate. If she's afraid, she's probably right.
posted by Sophie1 at 3:26 PM on Jul


Good points. Sorry I sounded like I might be saying, "she deserves it", or "they both deserve it." No one should stay in an environment where they don't feel safe.

And it sounds like she isn't safe.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:34 PM on July 1, 2008


suggest therapy, either couples therapy for both of them, or individual therapy for her alone if he won't go with her

She should go to individual therapy. Couples' therapy is not recommended in abusive situations. If nothing else, she might be able to sort out if there really are some issues on her side.

I agree with Sophie and Nuclear.

Escalation is very common and I do not feel comfortable that there are guns in the house. Also, blaming the victim is standard for abusive people.

That said, you already understand that cannot decide for her--it won't work. Be there for her, give her options. You have done well so far.
posted by Pax at 12:35 PM on July 1, 2008


My dad has always had a volatile temper, and regularly yells and screams about this, that or whatever. But in 50 years of marriage, he has never, EVER struck or pushed or done anything physical to my mom, nor has he ever called her any degrading names (and most certainly not "c*nt", which to my mind is the female equivalent of the "N" word, and a husband should absolutely NEVER use that term in reference to his wife). So I think there is a fine line between a hair-trigger temper and an abusive personality. Quite frankly, relationships such as the one you've described never improve on their own; without professional help, I think the situation will only get worse. Sadly, about the only thing you can do is continually reassure your friend that you are there and available, no matter what, where or when, if she needs help. Whether Leah will accept that help is another story; it sounds likes she's already making excuses for Rob and wanting to keep up appearances...all classic symptoms of a battered wife. I truly hope that she seeks help sooner rather than later.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:37 PM on July 1, 2008


They've been married such a short time, and when their marriage is good they seem to be a perfect match.

Tell your friend that it's easy for relationships to look great when the going's good -- millions of bad relationships look and feel good sometimes. It's when the going's hard that the real quality of a relationship reveals itself.

She needs support in getting help (ditto individual therarpy, not couples counseling), and hopefully getting out and staying safe. You can't make her make the decision, but you can be there for her if and when she does.
posted by scody at 12:39 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


when their marriage is good they seem to be a perfect match

Just wanted to point out that abuse is cyclical, and this is one of the stages in the cycle: there's the tension-building phase, the abusive episode, and what's referred to as the 'honeymoon phase' (what you described above). The honeymoon phase is part of what keeps people in abusive relationships: they focus on that and not the abuse.

Also, keep in mind that abused partners are statistically at an increased risk when they leave a relationship. Not to in any way discourage your friend from leaving, but if (hopefully, "when") she decides to leave, it would help her a lot if you or someone else could put her in touch with a women's shelter or other support network where she can be protected if he decides to do something.
posted by AV at 12:43 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


DV Article referencing Jacobson & Gottman's "Pit Bull" & "Cobra" categorizations. Citing this part because the violence only has to be suggested or implied once it has actually happened:

"Once physical violence succeeds in intimidating the woman, it may even taper off, only to be replaced by a never-ending barrage of emotional abuse that is sufficient to remind the woman that the threat of physical violence is always present."

For instance, when she told him, "Calling me a c*nt is verbally abusive," he responded, "Well you abuse me, too.

"Unlike the attacks by men, the violence of women is nearly always in response to battering by the man and is more self-defense than aggression, the researchers maintain. Yet, the men classified as pit bulls often profess that "they're the ones who are the victims in a violent relationship," Dr. Jacobson said. "O.J. Simpson said he felt like a battered husband."

What else can I do? I can't stop thinking about this.

I'd keep talking to her. Get more of the story - possibly more abuses and definitely more context.
posted by cashman at 12:45 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I had a close friend who was in an abusive relationship. We're not in contact anymore and, to the best of my knowledge, after we stopped calling one another she married the guy and they are still married.

So, as much as I hate to say this, I don't think there really isn't much you can do besides what you have already done. I certainly understand your urge to help her, to save her, to do something, anything to remedy the situation, but to a large extent it is out of your hands. Leah must be the one to make the decision to leave. If she is focused on how much she loves this man and how much she wants to preserve this marriage, she will be blind and deaf to pretty much anything you say that contradicts those desires. Have you heard the "you don't understand because you don't know what love is" line yet?

Your suggestions and offers of help to Leah are good. In addition you can encourage Leah to go to counselling by herself, because it sounds like she needs it. Be prepared for resistance on this one. My friend would never get counselling because she didn't think she had a problem despite a long history of getting into shitty long-term relationships. A trained and professional counsellor can help Leah more effectively than a friend, no matter how caring that friend is. Research resources for abused women in your area — single or group counselling, shelters, and the like, and give the contact information to Leah.

Something I wish I had done was to educate myself on the whole issue, so try that. Understanding the dynamics of marital abuse might help you cope with your worry better by giving you something concrete to do, and help you understand what you should and shouldn't do. Asking here is a good first stop. I'm sure others posting in this thread will have some good specific recommendations as to what you can read and websites that might be helpful, and you can pass on this information to Leah as well. Speak to an abuse counsellor and ask his or her advice if you can.

And.. once you have done what you can do, stop. Don't let your entire friendship or your own life become about this issue. Don't let yourself be sucked into hours and hours of the same repetitive conversation every week for years on end. Leah is a grown woman and she really does have to make her own decisions and then live with the outcome of those decisions.
posted by orange swan at 12:53 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


If she is focused on how much she loves this man and how much she wants to preserve this marriage, she will be blind and deaf to pretty much anything you say that contradicts those desires.

But she might hear it, even though she doesn't want to. And maybe she will draw on it if/when she begins to get the strength to leave. You don't have to get sucked in, but let her know that your door is open to her.

One thing you didn't mention but that I would urge you not to do is confront Rob yourself. It could really hurt you and Leah.
posted by Pax at 1:01 PM on July 1, 2008


Leah says I'm the only person she's told because she didn't want her friends to hate Rob, and she really wants to try to save the marriage.

Has she called what happened to her abuse, or are you the only one calling it that? I don't want to minimize what you've told us--hitting your partner is never, ever okay--but oftentimes abusive relationships involve a lot of elements of controlling behavior (the famous Power and Control wheel of abuse), and what you're describing might not seem to her like abuse. If she isn't telling anyone right now because she's afraid of how her friends will react, you should choose how you talk about this carefully. You really, really want to keep the lines of communication open with her, and calling it abuse if that's not how she honestly sees it might be unnecessarily alienating her. (I'm *not* saying it is or isn't abusive, just that the popular conception of abusive relationships is a terrified, tip-toeing woman with a brutish man who has her physically and emotionally cowed, and she might have a hard time squaring that with her view of her relationship, particularly if she's an "ardent feminist" who "gets in his face and forces him to talk".)

I understand the temptation to MAKE HER SEE that the behavior is not okay, and I think oftentimes throwing a label on something that our loved ones are resisting labeling themselves is an outgrowth of that temptation. Particularly with spousal abuse, there's also a belief that the victims are blinded by love to how awful their abusers are. However, in this case, it may ultimately be detrimental to start labeling it abuse when you talk with her about it--the ultimate risk is that she'll stop talking to you, and not tell anyone else, because what the narrative that you're trying to force her relationship into seems wrong to her.

Telling her she can always talk to you is good. Telling her she can come over any time she needs to, day or night, is good. If it were a friend of mine, and she was talking about wanting to make it work and not wanting to tell people about the physical violence and fights because she didn't want her friends to not like her husband, I'd try to stay within the bounds of how she describes what's happening, and ask whether *just what she describes in her own words* sound like the type of marriage she wants to be in. Instead of hinging the "okay to leave" card on him being abusive (which she might not agree with), I might point out that it's hard to be married to someone if "she doesn't trust him and is scared of him." I'd ask if it's hard to be married to someone when there's a constant power struggle in the marriage. I'd ask what it would take for her to trust him again, and keep asking questions about what, exactly, would need to change with his behavior for her to feel safe.

It's easy to tell a friend "divorce him," particularly given the things you've described. But I think it's ultimately more helpful to be a supportive presence that asks questions that help her to think through exactly what she needs to be safe and loved in her marriage, what she can do (and what she can't do) in this situation, how she would know if the dynamics of the relationship change enough (or don't change) for her to feel safe, and what she plans to do if things don't change. Then let her know that you have her back, whatever she decides.

(And having the abuse hotline numbers handy is good, but be very careful of how you broach it--again, if she doesn't really identify what is happening as abuse, handing her those numbers may backfire in that she'll stop talking with you about it.)
posted by iminurmefi at 1:02 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Have her call a battered women's shelter. They will give her information and options. Sometimes a trial separation with the woman being in a safe place will motivate the guy to get his act together if he cares enough about her. If not, well, she needs to know that asap as well.

It is very important that she is the one who makes the decisions about what she should do, but she needs to have as many options and choices as possible. She needs to decide what she will and will not accept in her marriage, and then-ONLY when she is in a safe place-let him know what her conditions are.

She knows this is abuse. What you need to know is that she is carrying a lot of shame-misplaced though it might be. Let her know you are there for her, and in what ways.

If you can-at least in front of her-withhold your judgement of what he is doing, that is really a very helpful thing. The abuse is a really crappy part of his makeup-obviously he has noncrappy parts that she sees as well which are important to her. She needs to know that the steps she takes to draw a line in the sand for her own protection are also the same steps she needs to take to save her marriage if it is at all saveable. If she does nothing, that is the worst possible thing.
posted by konolia at 1:17 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Rob told only one person, their close mutual friend, who's a professional therapist- and for some reason, that woman never mentioned it to Leah at all, even though she and Leah are close friends.

The therapist friend may not have been able to tell Leah without violating Rob's confidentiality, especially if Rob said something like "I'm telling you this because you're a therapist".
posted by catlet at 1:35 PM on July 1, 2008


Continue being there for her; women in abusive situations often isolate themselves (due to fear of embarassment, fear of being "the bad guy" by making the abuser look bad, etc). In the back of her mind, she will know you are in a safe haven.

Also, I'm not sure about the guns. (I do come from a Southern, gun-loving and owning, hunting family- I am not unilaterally anti-gun) . I have never been afraid of anyone in my family using them to hurt another but someone like this who is an abuser, and is very angry could possibly use them against her.

also, violence (and the yelling and intimidation is a form of violence) will likely escalate over time. Hopefully, he does not also have substance issues.

MeFi Mail me if you want.
posted by pointystick at 1:44 PM on July 1, 2008


Call city or town offices, get the number for any domestic violence hotline. Call them. Ask their advice. And get their card, laminate it, in fact, laminate several of them, and give one to your friend every couple of months. Just tell her, "I care about your safety. You deserve to be safe." Some people settle down as they grow up a bit. Some people learn how to make their marriages work. Therapy would certainly help, for either or both of them.
posted by theora55 at 2:14 PM on July 1, 2008


Phew. Intense, huh? You're a good friend to be so concerned, and you're smart to realize that she's an adult, and that you cannot save her, and that keeping the lines of communication open with her, providing options and perspective, are probably the most useful thing you can do. This has been going on for a while, so prepare to hang in there as her friend for the long haul.

Patience is one of the hardest things to have when someone you know is in a bad situation, but it's really important. There's a big difference (particularly as an ongoing message) between "you know how much I worry about you sometimes" and "you know I think you should leave him." Ultimately, the decision to leave has to come from her, to make it stick. It might be harder and take longer to untangle the emotional threads keeping her there than anyone might expect.

I talk about good ways of providing ongoing support to someone in this situation here. Feel free to email me.
posted by salvia at 2:15 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would also implement the last straw strategy. It can be helpful in to have a gentle, simply questioning conversation with her:

He's shoved her and she's stayed; slapped her and she's stayed. Would she stay if he slapped her again? Hit her? If either of those things happened, what would she do? Can she put a plan in place for that?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:20 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


As a friend, you can do a lot in a supportive situation by non-confrontationally and gently telling her that the abuse isn't right and that she doesn't have to settle for feeling unsafe or letting someone purporting to love her treat her that way.

Actually, on checking out the previous advice salvia linked above, especially the bit about the norm, that's what I was trying to get at. It's really, really important that she knows and feels that this isn't what everyone's going through, because it's very easy to forget when it's normal for you, and she won't be hearing it elsewhere if she's not telling other friends.
posted by carbide at 2:40 PM on July 1, 2008


Why, pray tell, would anybody stay in a relationship when physical abuse is involved?

I will never understand this.

Over my 32 year marriage, on occasion I've gotten so mad at my wife I can't describe it (as she has at me). But, I'd never consider raising a hand to her. If I did, she'd either leave me in a heartbeat, or I'd have less respect for her for staying.

Any legitimate, smart, firebrand feminist would be so out of there it's not funny.
posted by imjustsaying at 2:52 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why, pray tell, would anybody stay in a relationship when physical abuse is involved?

Among other reasons (fear, not knowing how to get out, hope that things will improve, etc), for some people, love often overrides self-preservation. I can't remember a time when I wasn't feminist, and yet I too have stayed in a relationship or two that was bad for me. Quite a revelation, when I realized that love is a necessary, but insufficient, component of a healthy lifetime partnership. Particularly when only one partner's willing to work on making the relationship healthy. It takes two to make a relationship work, but only one to sink it. If one partner's too unwilling or unable or lazy or whatever to do what's necessary, the backbreaking, heartbreaking efforts of the other can't possibly compensate.

I've got no advice, but good luck. Sometimes loved ones stay and stay in a destructive pattern, and at a certain point there's not much else to do but be there for them, and pray.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:44 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nthing the women's shelter suggestion. I would go with her, if I were you. It sounds as though the both of you are overwhelmed, but the shelter will be staffed by compassionate experts who have seen countless similar situations. They should offer stuff like support groups, a 24-hour hotline, emergency housing, information/referrals for counseling, and so on.

I work in legal aid, mainly with protection from abuse orders and other family law stuff, so I guess I should mention that as an option. I know it sounds drastic, but a PFA can give both parties a sort of time out, and can be as flexible as your friend would wish. This could be a way to get Rob into judicially enforced counseling, and could also limit his ability to access and possess firearms. Keep in mind, however, that Rob's actions would have to fit into your state law's definition of abuse before an order could be obtained. Again, a women's shelter would have more info on this.

Perhaps the two of you could take a self-defense class together as well. It doesn't solve Rob's anger problem, obviously, but it might help her to feel more confident if she knows that, even as a tiny woman, she could subdue a large attacker.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 4:08 PM on July 1, 2008


IANAL, etc., etc., by the way. And good luck all around!
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 4:09 PM on July 1, 2008


My happy wife, (now) has read the above and wishes me to add her "two cents":
She was a battered wife for about six years in her previous marriage - both verbally & physically abused - she kept enduring it but did see a counselor. When her husband joined her at one session, he frightened the therapist so much he controlled the entire session.

My wife endured his abuse until it gave her cause to literally run away. You need to be a good listener without giving advice, and, when she is ready she will make her escape. This is when she will need you.
posted by lungtaworld at 4:37 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


When he calls her a c*nt he's defining her role in his life.

That doesn't seem like very high regards.

There is nothing to save. If she is intimidated by him she has no reason to stay.
posted by Max Power at 4:59 PM on July 1, 2008


I had a close friend in the same situation. I bought her this book, "Why does he do that", she called several days later amazed at the parallels of the men in the book and her husband.

I highly recommend this book for your friend. Read it yourself first so you both can marvel how predictable he really is.

If you can, be there for her when she is ready to leave him. Best of luck to both of you.
posted by JujuB at 6:01 PM on July 1, 2008


Why, pray tell, would anybody stay in a relationship when physical abuse is involved?

I will never understand this.


Any legitimate, smart, firebrand feminist would be so out of there it's not funny.

No, you don't understand and you are not giving advice. The OP undestands this better than you do, and I trust won't say anything close to this to Leah, please. It's a wild oversimplification at best, and really, just not accurate. The cycle of violence is complicated.

Women who find themselves in abusive situations are not necessarily stupid, weak, or non-feminist.
posted by Pax at 6:07 PM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I happened to be watching the Oprah Show today and her topic was domestic violence. There wasn't a link for the entire show (just slides) but here is a list of the five warning signs that were described. Directing your friend to this link and the accompanying story about a woman who was victimized might help her - the major message of the show was that victims of domestic violence are not alone (the hotline number above was recommended) and that it's not the victim's fault. From what you described, your friend may be at the beginnings of what might become a more extreme situation. Knowing the signs might help her to decide what to do. Good luck and I feel for your friend - no one should be subjected to that kind of abuse.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:15 PM on July 1, 2008


@ nadawi:
... i know you say she's not verbally abusive to him, but getting in his face, getting "loud", not allowing him to leave a room, and screaming swears at him sounds far worse than being called a cunt from time to time.

seriously? did you actually read the question? the OP stated that the woman swore at him once, and was slapped in return. did you notice the part about the slapping and the pushing? please don't blame the victim of domestic abuse. as for the assertion that it's ok to be called a cunt once in a while- um, are you assuming he's fondly whispering it to her? i think it's a better asumption that he's screaming and swearing, too. what world are you from where it's ok to degrade, terrify and strike your wife when she "gets loud"?

i think in this situation a good analogy is to a pet dog. if a person were to pull away a dog's bowl while it was eating, that person is certainly being provocative to the dog, and most dogs wouldn't like that. it's fair for the owner to step in and say, "hey, leave my dog alone." it's even fair for the dog to growl a little to show its displeasure. but the dog that bites the person who pulled the bowl? that dog has crossed a line. clearly, it has been poorly socialized, and is not a pet you want to keep. what happens when you have a toddler around that dog? you just can't trust it because its essential nature is not gentle, and it lacks the self-control to restrain its anger.

sure, in this situation, maybe the wife is being annoying by getting in the husband's face- and maybe in some marriages a certain level of mutual name-calling is ok. but in this question, it sounds pretty clear that the name-calling is not ok with that woman, and in any marriage, hitting is crossing the line.
posted by twistofrhyme at 1:25 PM on July 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


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