Resources for helping a friend recognize the DV danger she's in?
January 18, 2019 2:42 PM   Subscribe

A pregnant friend is being threatened by her former/partner in an escalating manner. I think she is in denial of the danger of the situation - what resources are available to her and what resources are available to me? I am in San Francisco.

My questions:

1. how serious the recent escalations are - for one, he has recently told her he plans to poison her and take the child after the birth.
2. can I help her accept that her life and her child's life are literally in danger given that she's in denial? If yes, how?
3. if you've dealt with anything related in SF, what resources suggestions might you have?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Your friend needs to call the police, they can be reached by dialing 911. There are a number of reputable women's shelters in SF, but the important thing is reporting the death threat to the police.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:50 PM on January 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

For #2, I recommend at least skimming Why Does He Do That? and as someone who wants to help, particularly reading the last chapter (I think it's the last chapter) which has a lot of information about helping other people in that situation. The recommendation to listen, respect, and affirm her and her choices, even (especially?!) if they aren't what you think she should do, is very important. Being a safe person for her will help her to reach out to you when she needs your help.
posted by epersonae at 2:54 PM on January 18, 2019 [21 favorites]

I think equally importantly you should tell her that if she ever feels unsafe she can come stay with you, whether she takes your advice on calling the police/using other resources or not.

(On preview, epersonae said it much better and more completely than I did.)
posted by mskyle at 2:56 PM on January 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

You may want to see if she is willing to do the Domestic Violence Danger Assessment Quiz, which is used by service providers to provide an "objective" gauge to an intimate partner violence victim of her risk of being killed by her abuser.
posted by praemunire at 3:06 PM on January 18, 2019 [7 favorites]

Perhaps counterintuitive:

-you want her to see you as someone who listens to her and supports her, not someone who doesn’t understand her relationship and judges her, which can drive her further into their insular dynamic. Tread lightly and accept what she says for the sake of keeping the line open and being someone she can confide in.

-involving the police at this stage if she’s not actually ready to leave (complete with a step-by-step plan and money) can be a serious, dangerous escalation.

-definitely contact dv resources yourself and see what they advise for you. Seconding reading Why Does He Do That for your own edification.
posted by kapers at 3:29 PM on January 18, 2019 [12 favorites]

Your friend can contact confidential, nonjudgemental and free services at a hotline for DV survivors, and there is contact information and additional resources listed at the MeFi Wiki ThereIsHelp page, including national resources that can make local referrals. As noted above, you can also contact these services for support with this situation, and I encourage you to seek this support.

Based on the very limited information you have provided, it sounds like your friend is in what is referred to as a high-lethality risk situation, at minimum because there has been a threat on her life. A DV hotline should be able to help you develop ways to communicate with your friend based on the specific circumstances, and help you make decisions about how to proceed.

There are also enormous legal risks to your friend related to a failure to protect a child from abuse and neglect, and there is a child protection system available to remove the child if your friend is unable to protect her child from obvious risks of harm. In the worst case scenario, you could activate these protections by making a report and at least help ensure the safety of the child.
posted by Little Dawn at 3:40 PM on January 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

Just to add to Little Dawn’s comment, if you scroll down in the ThereIsHelp wiki, you’ll see links to several other Asks about helping other people who are in DV situations, which might make you feel a little less alone, and give you some more context for this difficult tussle between “I must call the police now” and “I must keep her confidence”. Best to you.
posted by penguin pie at 3:58 PM on January 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Eventual custody issues will be made more difficult if she doesn't have police reports, etc to corroborate. DV resources can help her navigate how to collect information that will be useful. She can also speak to her OBGYN so that it's charted that she's being threatened. Records for every incident, even if they're just her own notes about details and specific dates, can also be helpful. This is awful. I'm glad she has you.
posted by quince at 4:05 PM on January 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

Check out Helping Her Get Free, a guide for friends and family of women in bad relationships. This guide is recommended at the end of Why Does He Do That for friends and family. You are in a tough spot, I am sure you are coming from a place of caring but you can’t make your friend’s choices for her.
posted by crazycanuck at 6:20 PM on January 18, 2019

I don't have personal experience with them, but they helped a friend of mine out, and have a crisis line to call: La Casa de las Madres.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:02 PM on January 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

You're right, this is very serious.

Telling her what to do *will* backfire. And you can't logic someone out of a situation that they didn't use logic to get into. The advice above is solid, especially the DV assessment quiz.

Also, be her worrywort friend. Tell her you trust her and no-one can ever know what a relationship is really like except the people in it (has the benefit of being true because if you didn't think she could leave, you wouldn't be trying). But you're "a worrier" and you can't help but be concerned, and if she ever needs to bail or get you to look up info or whatever, you're there to help. And ask her to humour you by promising that she'll let you know if she needs help.

She already has someone controlling her. She needs an alternative, someone to trust who will let her make mistakes without yelling at her.
posted by harriet vane at 6:17 AM on January 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

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