- 3 years ago
- Wedding: November 2014
My longtime friend was in a relationship with a physical abuser for five years. She finally left this man in order to date a different man….who also turned out to be abusive. (Mentally, emotionally, and verbally, and then he recently hit her and left bruises on her.)
She was with this new guy for a little over a year, and got engaged to him before she left. She left the new guy after the physical part of the abuse started/when she found out he was cheating on her with three different women. A week or two after, she got back together with him, and now left him again after another couple weeks.
She is absolutely devastated and heartbroken and says that she doesn’t know how to be alone, misses him and is still in love with him, feels like she’s worthless and he’s the best she could do, and she doesn’t love herself enough to have the strength to be alone.
I’m worried this is turning into a cycle of her repeatedly going back to her abuser when she feels her lowest/lonliest, and I’m especially worried about this because I feel like each time she does this it will make it that much harder for her to leave/gain confidence in herself.
It makes it so much harder, because her abuser/ex-fiance…lives next door. It’s a suburban neighborhood, and he lives RIGHT. NEXT. DOOR. It’s like there’s no escape. I’ve suggested a restraining order, but I’m getting the feeling that a part of her doesn’t want to do that because she does still love him. She is also not in a position to move.
She’s been leaning on me through this process, saying that I’ve helped her to leave him before. The problem is, I’m worried that I could be saying something that isn’t exactly the most effective thing to say, or accidentally saying something damaging. She is in therapy and I honestly don’t know if that is helping, but when she comes to me crying I also need to be prepared to deal with it in the safest, most effective way. I know there is only so much I can do, but I mainly want to make sure that I am not saying the wrong things.
I of course tell her the standard things that most would tell her – that she could do better, and that even if she didn’t believe that, that all the people that know her believe in that and support her. I’ve made sure she knows that she can call me at any time, day or night when she is feeling her resolve slip. I’ve said that she could always stay with me for a while, to get away from there. I’ve let her know that she should be with someone who abhors domestic violence, abuse, etc. in any shape or form and assured her that there are MANY men that detest abusers. I told her that as hard as being alone might seem at times, that it is nothing compared to how hard it would be to be in a relationship with someone who just kept getting worse and worse, more violent and controlling, calling her a slut and whore because she had been with other people before getting together with him. Cheating with multiple people. Demanding to have a list of the people she’s slept with so that he “knows who to talk to.”
She is also worried that since her last two serious relationships were abusers, that this will just never end. She doesn’t know why she keeps ending up in these relationships, and she doesn’t know how to avoid these in the future or read the signs that she might not have been aware of. What if this happens for a third time?
The problem is, I know that a lot of details in this kind of situation are very sensitive, so I’m worried that one wrong word that I say could actually do damage. And I don’t want to say run-of-the-mill things that she’s heard from everyone, either, which I partly have been saying because…well, it’s the truth!
I’ve also suggested that she join a domestic-violence-and-emotional/verbal-abuse type forum to talk to other people online who can truly empathize with her, and draw on their help and their experiences and know that she is not alone in this, because at times it feels like she is.
I just….don’t want to hurt, I want to help. I did some Google searches but I feel like it’s full of such contradictory advice and I am not sure where to go from here. Please help if you have any advice, whether through personal experience or training in this situation. Thank you very much everyone!