Help my friend keep her teeth, dignity
May 17, 2007 7:04 AM   Subscribe

A girl I briefly dated, and am still on good terms with, is currently seeing a scumbag. I'd like to warn her, but there's a catch or two.

First, I'm not sure if the guy is who I think he is. Almost positive, but not entirely. If it is the same person, then the one time that we met a couple years ago I walked in on him not understanding what "No" means.
Second, our meeting ended with him leaving in an ambulance with a broken jaw and several other injuries. He then spent several months with lawyers and police trying to find me.
Before I got to him he had molested three girls at the party, and the thing that made me go after him was when he punched another girl in the mouth, knocking out two of her teeth.

My question is, how can I go about warning my friend to be careful, without her thinking I'm just being jealous, but also leaving out enough information so that if she confronts him about it, he won't know who I am and I won't get arrested?

Or should I just leave it alone and hope that the guy has changed?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'd say leave it. If she can't see him for who he is, no amount of convincing on your part may change her mind--especially if you are an ex of hers.
posted by sian at 7:17 AM on May 17, 2007

Your duty is to warn her. Tell her with the caveat that you are almost positive it is him, but not completely sure. It's then up to her to bail on the relationship if she detects something hinky.
posted by TorontoSandy at 7:17 AM on May 17, 2007

First be absolutely positively sure that it's the same guy. Then tell her what you know and whatever she does, ask her to leave your name out of it.
posted by gfrobe at 7:18 AM on May 17, 2007

First of all you don't even know if its the same guy... I mean, is it likely that she would have met the guy?

Second, if you're really friends with this girl why can't you just talk about it openly with her? Tell her, "Look, I don't want you to get the wrong idea, and I'm not trying to mess up your relationship or whatever, but..."

Lastly, there is something to be said for leaving well enough alone, especially given that you're not sure its the right guy.

Does your friend need this sort of oversight? Or is she mature and experienced enough to recognize problems and make her own choices? These are the questions you have to mull over before taking action.
posted by wfrgms at 7:19 AM on May 17, 2007

If I'm reading the story correctly, you kicked this guy's ass so hard he had to go to the hospital- and now you want to be the authority on what makes a nice guy? Don't be surprised if she doesn't believe you (hell, I don't believe you- if he had molested girls at a party, wouldn't the cops have been after him not you?). You really need to be 100% sure this guy is who you think he is before you approach this subject with her, so do your research. And if you do confront her, I'd keep it to just the facts.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:19 AM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

You should probably concoct an elaborate scheme where you try to reconstruct the fateful events of that night and get him to reproduce his own behavior, arranging for your ex to show up at the crucial moment. Oh wait, that's not very good advice.

1. Don't do or say anything until or unless you are 100% certain it's the same guy. To go off on faulty information would be exactly the wrong thing to do.

2. If you truly are are on good terms with her, you should address this with ex directly, as clinically as you can, state you have no agenda other than her safety and well-being, and tell her what your misgivings are and what happened that night. If she rejects your advice based on her accurate or inaccurate readings of your motivations, that's her choice.

3. All of this assumes that your account of the events in question is accurate. I share similar doubts to the ones ThePinkSuperhero's expresses above.
posted by psmealey at 7:26 AM on May 17, 2007

First, do find out if he is who you suspect he is.

Then, if you find out this is true, get as much documentation as you can regarding the molestation of other women, including the knocking out of teeth. The women in question might be willing to provide those medical records for you. If he is registered as a sex offender, get a printout.

Allow the documents to speak for themselves. Provide a way for her to verify the information.

Without some standards of reasonable proof, it comes off as a he-said/she-said. And most people still won't believe the oven is hot until they smell their own flesh a-sizzlin' away.
posted by adipocere at 7:26 AM on May 17, 2007

ThePinkSuperhero, The general rule is that when the cops show up and one has to go to the hospital, the other one is dragged to the police station, regardless of who started it.

In response to the question, seconding what others are saying, do your research. If you are then sure, tell her what you know, tell her to keep you out of it. That's the best one could do, I suppose.
posted by piratebowling at 7:26 AM on May 17, 2007

Tell your friend about the previous incident and that this guy sounds like he might be the same person. Ask to be included in some social activity where they will attend as a couple (make it sound like you just want to meet him to reassure yourself that he's not the molestor). It sounds like if this is the guy, he will attack you on sight. That reaction should be enough to prove to your friend A) that he's the molestor, and B) that he's a violent nutjob. This involves putting yourself at some personal risk, but it sounds like you're willing to do that to protect others.
posted by amber_dale at 7:28 AM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

So I'm guessing that you were totally wasted at a party, ended up fighting some guy who you believed was molesting and punching girls, and then after sending him to the hospital, you had to suffer the police coming after you on assault charges but they couldn't find you? Where were you? On the run?

You sound like you didn't know your head from your ass at that party. Unless you can verify that this guy is the same and that he really did the things you said he did, you're just some jealous guy who likes to fight at a party.

If you really are into 'defending women from big bad men' like you're trying to come off as in this post, you wouldn't have to ask this question. You already would have told her. Your hesitation means something. Listen to it and leave it until you get some solid proof.
posted by Stynxno at 7:32 AM on May 17, 2007 [4 favorites]

Were you drunk at the party? Was he? Were the girls? Did they press charges against him? Do you get in fights often? Have you been compelled to step in and physically defend others often? Do you understand why I'm asking?

Your friend deserves a warning if this is definitely the same guy, but honestly don't be surprised if this changes her view of you just as much as her view of him.

I'm not saying you messed up then or that you're about to mess up now. I am chiming in with TPS though, to say that before you "come to the rescue" again with this information, you need to make sure that this is the same guy, and that your motives are what you think they are.
posted by hermitosis at 7:35 AM on May 17, 2007

I don't know who you are, whether you're a violent drunk, whether you think all women belong to you and need protection from other men, or whether you are a peaceful man who was the only one who would step up to the plate while a violent, out-of-control asshole punched a woman's teeth out in the middle of a party.

No idea at all

Your friend, however, does. So when you tell your friend that you saw her boyfriend and are wondering if his name is X because if it is you're concerned, she'll know how much salt to take it with.

You don't have to do all the research and soul-searching yourself. Your friend is a grownup. She knows what her boyfriend's name is. She knows what your opinion is worth. So speak up already.
posted by kika at 7:53 AM on May 17, 2007 [6 favorites]

There are no catchs here.

Tell her you think it's the same guy and what he did. Either she wont' believe you or she ask you to positvely ID the guy. Then she can ask the guy whether he's ever had his jaw broken or some such.

If he doesn't understand the meaning of the word no, then don't play cat and mouse. Tell her NOW and get him IDed NOW so she can decide what she wants to do NOW, before she's missing two front teeth or worst.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:56 AM on May 17, 2007

Do you know any of the women this guy allegedly molested? (I say allegedly not because I doubt the molestation took place, but because you don't know if it's the same guy.) Can they identify him and maybe warn your ex?
posted by found dog one eye at 7:56 AM on May 17, 2007

I don't understand the skepticism. Sure, it could be bullshit, but that doesn't seem probable. A girl got two teeth knocked out. Perhaps he's lying from the get go but I don't see the evidence for it. Considering that he was at a party, he was probably drinking; that's a factor, but it doesn't change everything.

What to do? It all depends on the relationship with the ex and her level of trust in you. Another factor is how long she's been seeing this guy. The longer she's been dating him and the more distant you are with your ex the more hard evidence you need to have available. If that's the case, see if one of the victims might be willing to ID and perhaps talk to your ex, maybe even try and get a copy of a police report (if one was made) where the girl lost her teeth. If she just started seeing the guy or the two of you are close, just go and talk to her and if she wants more evidence you can deal with it then.

Taking care of yourself will be tricky, especially if she has started to have feelings for the guy. I don't think there is an easy answer there.
posted by BigSky at 8:14 AM on May 17, 2007

I think you need to tell her what you told us.

But just understand, people get really stupid upstairs when they're romantically involved with someone. So just don't be surprised if she doesn't take you seriously, or doesn't care. Lots of people stay in incredibly abusive relationships, and there's not a lot you can do about it besides try to warn them and then pick up the pieces later.

Also, if you have ... unsettled business, particularly of the legal sort (like, an outstanding warrant for your arrest or something), with this guy, you might want to get that dealt with or at least come up with a plan for dealing with it, in case telling her causes all this to resurface. Because what are you going to do, if you tell her, and then she goes home and says "Hun, this friend of mine says that he beat the shit out of you for molesting a girl at a party a while back..." and then proceeds to give him your name/address/life-story. He could easily decide to come back after you, physically or legally.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:14 AM on May 17, 2007

You tell her, and you are wrong. You're a good friend who is wrong. Good friends are often forgiven for being wrong.

You don't tell her, she gets harmed, you build a time machine that brings you back to today.

Now what do you do?
posted by 4ster at 8:45 AM on May 17, 2007 [6 favorites]

Do you know anything about the nogoodnik other than what you've said here? If so, you could just ask your friend "Hey, is the Dave you're dating the same Dave who used to work at Widgets, Inc?" or what have you.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:09 AM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by The corpse in the library at 9:10 AM on May 17, 2007

I'm amazed by... Just. Threads like this make me despair for humanity.

Put it this way, if my ex-boyfriend said "Beagle, you know that guy you started dating? Uh, this is a little awkward, but I think maybe he's this attempted rapist I had to knock around a little a few years ago. I'm not 100% sure, but I felt bad not telling you." I would say "HOLY SHIT, are you serious?!?" and then if it WAS that dude, I would dump him immediately and be very thankful that my ex had told me, and if it WASN'T that dude, I would be very thankful that my ex had cared enough about my well-being to bring it up, no harm, no foul.

I cannot believe the advice to do nothing. Christ.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:35 AM on May 17, 2007 [4 favorites]

So many things stink about this story.
posted by boreddusty at 10:11 AM on May 17, 2007

I think 4ster and hmsbeagle put it better than I could about notifying her. Imagine all the ways this could play out, and think about how you'd feel in each of them.

What's the statute of limitations on assault & battery (I'm assuming no weapons were involved)? If the ass-kicking happened a couple of years ago, you may be safe from prosecution (but not necessarily safe from this guy if he's the type to come after you later, be careful).

Another thought - is there a trusted friend who could deliver this message, so she wouldn't think this is just you trying to get her back? Not sure if that would help or just complicate things, though...
posted by altcountryman at 10:49 AM on May 17, 2007

For what it's worth, the story 100% jives with my (very intimate, but still second hand) understanding of how serial party rapists operate. Clueless, apathetic partygoers: Check. Clueless, apathetic, counterproductive police: Check. Victims who, for whatever reason, can not or will not step up: Check. Serial rapists rape at parties for all these convenient reasons.

That being said, memory is a funny thing, especially when high stakes emotions (anger, protection, etc) and adrenaline are concerned. Double that if it was dark and you were drinking. You might be mistaken about this person's identity.

Unfortunately, if this guy is who you think he is, he has attacked lots of women at lots of parties over the years, so an anonymous, somewhat vague, note to your ex is not likely to clue this guy in to who you are, even if he reads it. Enlisting another witness from the party to relay this message, while keeping you anonymous, might also be possible. Ultimately, it is your friend's responsibility to use the information available to keep herself safe.

Nevertheless, the responsible thing to do would be to give full disclosure and possibly suffer the consequences of your past actions. Whether or not it was the morally correct thing to do or whether or not you feel as if you had other reasonable options at the party, you still made the choice to fight and accept the possible consequences. Just because time has passed, that does not mean the consequences were not chosen. Therefore, you can go forward with the knowledge that if you're arrested or retaliated against, you're still helping to get the story out and keep more people safe: Your original goal. However, it is one thing to be valiant in the moment and quite another thing to be a martyr.

In any event, I think you have a responsibility to inform your ex. The first of your fears, that your ex will confuse your concern for jealousy, is not particularly important considering the stakes. The second concern for your own safety measured against the safety of others is the only concern worth considering.

IANAL, but you might also consider the statute of limitations for assault in your jurisdiction.
posted by Skwirl at 12:10 PM on May 17, 2007

Would you recognize him?

If so, ask her, innocently, to see a picture, of her new man tell her you're wondering if it's a guy you used to know....

If it isn't him it isn't him.

If it is, tell her HOW you used to know him.
posted by mazienh at 1:45 PM on May 17, 2007

I think it's better to err on the side of safety. Sexual assault is a serious allegation, and even if you have an inkling of a suspicion, it's best to pass that on to your friend. I can say that, if I were in her shoes, I'd appreciate your concern.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:24 PM on May 17, 2007

perhaps a nice Ecard from Some Ecard
posted by STHayden at 7:43 PM on May 19, 2007

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