I have a friend who is in an abusive relationship. It started off with emotional bullying, and has moved forward to some physical roughness. If my friend still lived in the United States, I would report the incident even if they didn’t, even at the risk of losing a friendship. I believe that living in fear and dread of the person sleeping beside you is something unbearable. I dealt with it in my own family circle, and had a good friend and former teacher die at the hands of her abusive husband. I worry about those I love and care for when they are in positions like this, because I never want to feel like an enabler. My family friend who was killed had a neighbor who knew all about the abuse and never called the police. My mother happened to run into her soon after our mutual friend’s death and found it hard to contain her anger towards her. I think she felt guilty; I know I would.
I find that when friends share troubling information with me, they are not usually looking for advice. I have often felt like an emotional dumping ground for people’s problems in the past. Now, if friends or family keep sharing the same problems with the same people without changing their methods of dealing with it all, I call them out on it in the firmest and most respectful way possible. Sometimes I am told to back off, and when I am, I respond by saying that if they don’t want my input, they should stop confiding in me. Tough love is hard to dish out, but I find that I must do it at times.
I hope my friend will protect herself and her baby. Since she is on the other side of the world, all I can do now is pray that she will not become just another statistic.
How do you handle abuse when it happens to people you love?