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Wedding Woes

Hard to find balance

Dear Prudence,

My best friend of four years is in an abusive relationship. She calls me on a weekly basis crying about how terribly her boyfriend treats her, but she refuses to leave. I have invested countless hours and sacrificed time with family, other friends, and my own relationship to try to help her leave with no success. It is draining. She has isolated herself from almost all friends and activities besides me. We recently got into an argument because her boyfriend is going away on a bachelor weekend. Knowing he would be unfaithful and unresponsive as he often is on these trips, she has put the responsibility on me to “distract” her while he is gone. The problem is that I already have plans with friends and family that she refuses to attend. She is telling me it needs to just be me and her and that I should be accommodating to her. I am upset and resentful that it has gotten to this point. I don’t want to push her away, but I think she is acting ridiculous and think it’s a shame she expects me to isolate myself with her so she doesn’t have to think about the trouble her boyfriend is getting into. What do I do? Tell my friend to suck it up and risk losing her when she doesn’t dump her boyfriend? Or keep allowing her to vent her frustrations and waste my time after years of not doing anything to help herself?

Re: Hard to find balance

  • Hang up the phone. Srsly. “Hey I gotta go bye!” “You’re welcome to join me at my family event. Oh you want it to be just the two of us? Sorry that doesn’t work for me. Bye.”
    banana468short+sassyOurWildKingdom
  • Hang up the phone. Srsly. “Hey I gotta go bye!” “You’re welcome to join me at my family event. Oh you want it to be just the two of us? Sorry that doesn’t work for me. Bye.”
    Yup.   You can be blunt with this friend or just be cordial.  "Sorry I have plans!" 

    She lacks control and is attempting to control others because the only person she can't control is the BF.     Her situation sounds sad but you also don't need to feel guilty because she refuses to do anything about her situation despite her cognizance of it. 
    OurWildKingdom
  • kerbohlkerbohl member
    Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer
    She's isolating LW from her family and friends ... I think LW might have to lead by example and say that the way that she is being treated is unacceptable and she won't stand for it.  Maybe that will be the message that gets through to this friend that she doesn't have to put up with this behaviour with her boyfriend, just like LW won't put up with her isolating behaviour.
    imageimage
    charlotte989875
  • It's sad situation but the LW can't keep setting herself on fire to keep her friend warm.  Sometimes you have to stand back and let people hit rock bottom before they are willing to change.  This one is so incredibly hard because it involves a friend who is being abused, but I also don't think it's fair to expect someone to sacrifice their life and sanity for someone.

    short+sassyOurWildKingdom
  • CasadenaCasadena member
    Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    kerbohl said:
    She's isolating LW from her family and friends ... I think LW might have to lead by example and say that the way that she is being treated is unacceptable and she won't stand for it.  Maybe that will be the message that gets through to this friend that she doesn't have to put up with this behaviour with her boyfriend, just like LW won't put up with her isolating behaviour.
    I didn't think about it from that perspective and I think this a great way for LW to frame it to her friend.  
    MesmrEwe
  • It's sad situation but the LW can't keep setting herself on fire to keep her friend warm.  Sometimes you have to stand back and let people hit rock bottom before they are willing to change.  This one is so incredibly hard because it involves a friend who is being abused, but I also don't think it's fair to expect someone to sacrifice their life and sanity for someone.

    I love this line!

    I'd reiterate, "Sorry it will be a bad weekend for you, but I already have plans. I am not changing them. You are welcome to come along! That's your choice if you don't."  Rinse and repeat.

    I think the LW should take it a few steps further.  She needs to start backing off of this friendship.  She should start some tough love and setting boundaries with the emotionally wrought, crying conversations.  Tell her friend something like, "BFF, you are draining me and you need so much more help than I could ever give you.  You have been in absolute misery for years, but still won't leave this abusive relationship.  I can't talk to you about this subject anymore.  I won't let him isolate you from me, but I can't be your shoulder to cry on anymore.  However, when you are ready to leave for good, tell me and I will do what I can to help." 
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    OurWildKingdomMesmrEweOliveOilsMom
  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    Oh wow, I’m here right now. A friend of mine left her abusive BF for the second time and got the police involved (he put a gun to her head, installed spyware on her phone, and was drugging her). Now she’s talking about dropping the charges because she “doesn’t want him to die in prison.” This isn’t the first abusive guy she’s gotten involved with, and my guess is he won’t be the last. I’m at a loss. I’ve given her money and driven her to various safe locations. I honestly don’t know what else to do.
    charlotte989875short+sassyOliveOilsMom
  • Oh wow, I’m here right now. A friend of mine left her abusive BF for the second time and got the police involved (he put a gun to her head, installed spyware on her phone, and was drugging her). Now she’s talking about dropping the charges because she “doesn’t want him to die in prison.” This isn’t the first abusive guy she’s gotten involved with, and my guess is he won’t be the last. I’m at a loss. I’ve given her money and driven her to various safe locations. I honestly don’t know what else to do.
    Find a counselor for her. She is being gaslit a.f

    That's hard to see a friend go through :( 
    OurWildKingdom
  • The friend is in an impossibly and definitely dangerous situation. But it is not your responsibility to distract her, adjust your plans, or isolate yourself because he is isolating her. 

    The best thing to do is to keep inviting her, keep communicating with her, and as hard as it is be patient with her. You need to have your own healthy boundaries and if her requests attempt to cross they you need to maintain them. Do it with as much compassion as you can. If you can’t do something 1:1 Friday night suggest lunch/coffee the next day. 

    Framing it as “she refuses to leave” and that you’ve invested hours to help her “leave with no success” isn’t helpful. On average it takes people (usually women) 6-7 times to finally leave an abusive partner. If he is physically abusing her he may have threatened her life or her family or pets. It’s not as easy as we like to think. She knows leaving will end the situation but the risks of leaving can be incredibly high. Don’t diminish that. 

    Again, if it’s too much, if it’s impacting your life then you need to take a step back. It is not on you and you need to care for yourself. But please don’t give her an ultimatum. 
    VarunaTTshort+sassyOurWildKingdomOliveOilsMom
  • VarunaTTVarunaTT member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    The friend is in an impossibly and definitely dangerous situation. But it is not your responsibility to distract her, adjust your plans, or isolate yourself because he is isolating her. 

    The best thing to do is to keep inviting her, keep communicating with her, and as hard as it is be patient with her. You need to have your own healthy boundaries and if her requests attempt to cross they you need to maintain them. Do it with as much compassion as you can. If you can’t do something 1:1 Friday night suggest lunch/coffee the next day. 

    Framing it as “she refuses to leave” and that you’ve invested hours to help her “leave with no success” isn’t helpful. On average it takes people (usually women) 6-7 times to finally leave an abusive partner. If he is physically abusing her he may have threatened her life or her family or pets. It’s not as easy as we like to think. She knows leaving will end the situation but the risks of leaving can be incredibly high. Don’t diminish that. 

    Again, if it’s too much, if it’s impacting your life then you need to take a step back. It is not on you and you need to care for yourself. But please don’t give her an ultimatum. 
    I've been struggling with my thoughts on this b/c of a personal situation with a friend of mine that's similar.  I think you summed it up, pretty great here. 
    charlotte989875OurWildKingdom
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Oh wow, I’m here right now. A friend of mine left her abusive BF for the second time and got the police involved (he put a gun to her head, installed spyware on her phone, and was drugging her). Now she’s talking about dropping the charges because she “doesn’t want him to die in prison.” This isn’t the first abusive guy she’s gotten involved with, and my guess is he won’t be the last. I’m at a loss. I’ve given her money and driven her to various safe locations. I honestly don’t know what else to do.
    There's a balance between enabling and getting her to the help she needs, and she NEEDS to be working with a GREAT therapist/counselor and NO WAY IN HE** should she be around him - EVER!   The type of personality she has she NEEDS to almost treat it like getting over an addiction "Nope - I can't be around that type of personality for the time being!" with extreme resolve.  She has to want to change, and NOW!  Until she acknowledges her part in the situation (i.e. attracting that type of personality to her) and doing what it takes to stand firm in her shoes, the problem will just continue.  

    If she goes off on the tangent about "he will die in prison" there are two realities, either someone like that will kill her first, or the court systems are F'd up and he'll be out in less than a few years through a plea deal.  If the inmates take him out, what's that saying...  

    What can you do as a friend - get her into an activity that's going to bring her social connection.  "Joiner Groups" and volunteering are a good start!  Lion's Club, OES, Church, Humane Society, Library, Gym, Boxing classes, Martial Arts, Adult Education Classes (we've got everything from painting to gardening to you can be busy every single night of the week!), etc. Get her going in something that she can develop a passion for!  


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