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When to call it quits?
helping women in relationships when the keep going back?


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#1 MadamDivine

Posted 27 February 2013 - 09:57 AM

Ok I have 3 friends, two whom are really close and one is a FB friend.

so friend 1: We have known each other since the age of 8, been BF for so many years. She was MOH in my first wedding, my eldest childs godmother. She has the worst partner. He is a ar$e. He has never liked me from the beginning of their relationship (they got together when she was 17) I believe he has always been threatened by our friendship. Over the years he has been involved in drugs and criminal activity. She has gone on to have 2 children to him.
In the last 5 years I have bailed her out of situations at least 4 times, she has left him. He is violent and controlling. The last time her son was kidnapped by him and put in danger that it even made the local news as the police were worried about his safety, as her partner didnt know where I lived her and the children (once son was returned) stayed at our house rather then a safe house because she didn't want to be left alone in a hotel room. He ends up being arrested and locked up. She goes back home changes locks etc and we chat a few times a week.
Slowly this dwindles down, she starts not returning texts messages, not answering her phone etc. I can not get in contact with her to find our from friend of a friend that she is back with him.
After numerous attempts to talk to her I have given up. He will never change but he has no gotten what he wanted, the one big threat to his controlling out of her life sad.gif


friend 2: extremely smart professional women gets involved with partnered man and falls pg, he disowns her and she takes the fall out, saying one night stand baby etc... I am then pg support (think all appointments, ultrasounds and even her birth partner) fast forward to child being 6 months and his partner finds out child exists she breaks it off with him and he basically moves in with friend. They have obviously been sleeping together still the entire time but none of his family or friends were aware child existed.
While friend was pg and he was being a ar$e he contacted her and i answered phone and gave him a serving. He does not like me at all.

So now since friend has shacked up with him, i have been dumped. No contact, cancelling of catch ups and final straw from the weekend... she was to squeezed for time that she may or may not have been able to attend my baby shower (something she had been sent invite to 5 weeks in advance and already RSVP yes too) so any way she doesn't show and I get jack of it and send her a sms telling her since I'm not important enough to even contact when you don't show im done, and rescinded any other invites we had extended to her (her other child was invited to my child bday party in a few weeks but since i have to pay per person and for any no shows i don't feel like I can trust her to attend and don't want my child to get their hopes up a certain person is coming when there is a great chance they wont show).

48 hrs later i finally get a sms, saying blah blah this happened which is complete crock and still doesn't explain why it took 2 days to contact me. I fully believe her partner didnt want her to attend.

friend 3- again abusive partner, keeps going back because he says if she doesn't he will kill himself etc... I'm done hearing the same excuses for the last 12 months. they have kids together, still sleeping together even though he is sleeping with other men and women. Same whinge and cry every other week when she takes him back and he does it all over again




yet with all these 3 women I still try and help. When would you stop?

Edited by MadamDivine, 27 February 2013 - 09:58 AM.


#2 SeaPrincess

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:08 AM

I would be torn.  Clearly these women need someone who will be willing to help them if they ever decide to leave permanently, but at the same time, it's incredibly frustrating to see them making the same mistake over and over again.  I would probably back off a bit - call to catch up from time to time, but not discuss their relationships at all, and generally not see them either. If they ask, tell them that you still value their friendships, but that you don't want to keep having to pick up the pieces.

#3 4ngiebella

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:20 AM

When you are too close it will only hurt you. I'm sorry but it really will. In my experience in the domestic violence counselling field you cannot blame, badmouth or say anything negative about that person's partner (despite the fact they are all of those bad things and more) because that woman will only become defensive and shut down to you.

You have to wait until they are ready to leave and then offer all the support they need to firstly, be safe, then to move on emotionally and mend their hearts and thinking patterns until they are able to choose better partners and believe they deserve better.

I have lost a friendship over this personally. One that was much later rekindled thankfully. And when I was going through it myself, lost most of my friends as well.

Good luck. I'm sorry you are in this position. I wish I could give you better news. Let them know you love them. Let them know you are there. And use your energy looking after you and yours until they are ready to lean on you x

#4 FloralArrangement

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:23 AM

I think you need to get on with your own life. You have been more than supportive, these are adult women making their own choices. There is not much else you can do. Just back away and let them come to you on their own, this may never happen. Enjoy your life and your family.



#5 sedawson

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:30 AM

I would stop it now.
There's something wrong in the pattern of these relationships that you are having.
It sounds to me like your excellent actions are actually becoming counter-productive - as long as you are there to help when needed, others won't be required to take the actions they need to take. You can only invest so much in others when they aren't investing the same amount in you.
Do you have a need to be needed in this way? If I were you, and I say this very kindly and without knowing your life as you do, I would look at myself and ask why I have given so much for so long with so little in return. What is there in you that makes you keep doing this, when it's not working for them or for you?
If your helping was successful, you wouldn't have to keep doing it. It would have worked and these women would be in a better place, but they aren't and that isn't your fault - unless you've become an enabler. I know that's an overused buzzword but it might be worth considering.

#6 4ngiebella

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:32 AM

QUOTE (sedawson @ 27/02/2013, 10:30 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It would have worked and these women would be in a better place, but they aren't and that isn't your fault - unless you've become an enabler. I know that's an overused buzzword but it might be worth considering.


Not overused at all! I have become an enabler in some destructive friendships only trying to do the same thing. It's useful to think about the boundaries in friendships with this in mind. Good luck hun

#7 knittingkitten

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:42 AM

I would back away but ensure that they know that I will support them if they want to change their life.

Edited by knittingkitten, 27 February 2013 - 10:43 AM.


#8 Fluster

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:44 AM

QUOTE (FloralArrangement @ 27/02/2013, 10:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think you need to get on with your own life. You have been more than supportive, these are adult women making their own choices. There is not much else you can do. Just back away and let them come to you on their own, this may never happen. Enjoy your life and your family.


I agree.  

I'm happy to help a friend who needs it, but I'm not here to be someone's perpetual fall back.  No one chooses to become a victim, but a lot of people choose to stay one when they know they have someone to run too when it gets too heated for them to cope with.

#9 opethmum

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:55 AM

I am another here to say to move on and get on with your own life and start living your life to the fullest. These women are adults and capable of making their own choices in life and yes some of their choices suck in reality but there is nothing you can do to help them make better choices. You need to step back and get on with your own life and let these women live with their choices as hard as it is.
I would start by getting involved in different groups and start making a new set of friends and moving your life in a better direction. If these women happen to be in the frame is up to them some friendships fade and will wax and wane over time.
It is sad and you have a right to feel sad that these women have seemingly abandoned you when things are seemingly good.
Time to move on and up to better things and expect better for yourself. You only have one life to live and don't let these people rule your existence. I hope and wish you the best in the future endeavours friendship wise.



#10 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 27 February 2013 - 10:55 AM

QUOTE (MadamDivine @ 27/02/2013, 09:57 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
yet with all these 3 women I still try and help. When would you stop?

When I was emotionally worn out and it was adversely affecting my life.  

And I would let them know that and give them contact number for appropriate support services, letting them know that a professional is in a much better position to help them, I just want to be a friend.

It's not easy to know when to let it go, because you don't want to feel like you are abandoning a friend.  Then again, sometimes you have to put your own emotional health before others.

#11 Spa Gonk

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:14 AM

If they are good friends,I would and keep the friendship only.  However, I would try and be clear with myself that their avoiding me is not personal, but social abuse by their partner.  I would not o out of my way to arrange catch ups, particularly if it set off te partner.  However, I would try and text or ring every now ad then, just letting them know I am happy to catch up or chat whenever they are ready.

Leaving DV relationships are really hard, so I would like to e around to help when they are ready, and try to offer no judgement when they return. And I figure the odd bit of contact reminds them what their partners are doing to the interns of socially isolating them, and also let's them see that they have support outside the relationship.

But of course it is really hard to do all that.

#12 MadamDivine

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:19 AM

I guess it depends on what you mean by enabler? I am one because they can always fall back to me? because I let them?

I just don't understand why they seem to want to be miserable? and I can say this from experience. I left my first husband when my 3rd child was 2 weeks old, enough became enough and I wasn't willing to sacrifice myself for him anymore. Its not that I didn't love him and oh yes I wanted it to work but it wasn't and nothing was changing so I left.
I have never been happier, it wasn't easy but it was certainly doable.

I want them to realise they can be happy and they deserve to be happy. Your right I am way to close to this and need to step back.


I have this stupid mentality that I did it, why can't they... which when writing it down I know sounds absolutely stupid. They are just wonderful women and deserve so much better.

#13 Wednesday's Child

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:21 AM

Sometimes it can really hurt and be difficult to understand when someone we care about is being abused and cuts contact with us.  Their behaviour can seem deliberately hurtful to us, or just unpredictable and 'flaky'.  That doesn't mean we should "call it quits" on being their friend but rather we should "call it quits" on engaging in controlling or judgemental behaviour towards them ourselves.

It can be frustrating and exhausting supporting someone who is being abused but we need to remember that well, they are in fact being abused.  And by someone they love and who purports to love them.

What that woman is experiencing and feeling matters.  It affects judgements, choices, self-belief and so much more.

Even just the 'small' cognitive step to self awareness that you are experiencing abuse is traumatic and life altering.  And almost impossible to make when we are constantly absorbing a cultural narrative which conflates passion and love with violence and control.

With friend number 1 can you still provide support by being a friend to the friend?  Maintaining that contact and support even one step removed is important.

Most domestic violence services have information for friends and families on how to support a woman experiencing abuse.  Perhaps contact them or visit their websites.

http://www.dvrcv.org.au/help-advice/guide-...and-neighbours/

Also, I can't speak highly enough of Lundy Bancroft's work with abused women and children.

Once/if any of your friends seriously initiates the "calling it quits" conversation themselves, I have found Lundy Bancroft's book "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" helpful.

Other resources Lundy Bancroft recommends (but which I have not read)

QUOTE
To Be An Anchor In The Storm: A Guide For Families and Friends of Abused Women
by Susan Brewster (Ballantine Books)


An outstandingly caring, practical, and wise book for the loved ones of an abused woman. If you are trying to assist a woman who is in a bad relationship, read this book. It will help you to feel better and make you a much more effective helper. (However, one word of caution: A section at the end of the book on reporting child abuse contains information that I find ill-advised. Before you involve child protective services with a mother you care about, call a program for abused women in your area and seek advice about whether and how to make a child abuse report.)

Safety Planning With Battered Women
by Jill Davies, Eleanor Lyon, and Diane Monti-Catania (Sage Publications)


This is a professional book, but is very readable and helpful for anyone who wants to understand what is really involved when a woman is considering leaving an abusive partner, and provides guidance for how to help a woman be safer even if she can’t leave or doesn’t want to. The authors talk about much more than just safety planning — they address the full range of practical realities that abused women face in a way that I have found in no other book.

Trauma and Recovery
by Judith Herman (Basic Books)


Dr. Herman’s book is the bible of trauma, especially for those kinds of traumatic experiences for which the society tends to blame the victim or deny the reality of her/his experience. An outstandingly brilliant work.


#14 Cath42

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:29 AM

QUOTE (sedawson @ 27/02/2013, 11:30 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would stop it now.
There's something wrong in the pattern of these relationships that you are having.
It sounds to me like your excellent actions are actually becoming counter-productive - as long as you are there to help when needed, others won't be required to take the actions they need to take. You can only invest so much in others when they aren't investing the same amount in you.
Do you have a need to be needed in this way? If I were you, and I say this very kindly and without knowing your life as you do, I would look at myself and ask why I have given so much for so long with so little in return. What is there in you that makes you keep doing this, when it's not working for them or for you?
If your helping was successful, you wouldn't have to keep doing it. It would have worked and these women would be in a better place, but they aren't and that isn't your fault - unless you've become an enabler. I know that's an overused buzzword but it might be worth considering.


I agree with this.

Although each of these three women is in a unique situation, the one thing they all have in common is that they have you to fall back on when their poor choices push them to crisis point. They all take up vast amounts of your time and energy when their lives hit the fan, only to turn around and ignore you between crises. That's not "friendship"; that's a use job. I wouldn't call you an enabler, as these women are going to continue to make these poor choices no matter what you do, but I do think these women think of you only as a person to whom they can turn when their lives are in self-inflicted chaos.

The second woman is the one who annoys me the most. This woman was quite happy for you to drop everything to go with her to antenatal appointments and be her support person when the father of her child didn't want to be involved with the pregnancy but still wanted to shag her senseless as often as he could. She then allows him to move in with her when his partner kicks him out, and allows him to push you out of her life. With this woman in particular, I say good riddance to bad rubbish. She is nothing but a user, and you're well shot of her.

The first and third women are a bit different, because they're in abusive relationships and they've lost any internal ability they may once have had to comprehend normality. The first woman in particular, if she's been in an abusive relationship since she was 17, is probably beyond ever being able to leave. That relationship is probably only going to end with the death of one of them, or one of their kids, and there's nothing you or anyone else can do about it. All you can do is protect yourself and your own kids.

The best thing you can do is to let all three of these women go. No doubt each of them will contact you in the future when things are hitting the fan, and when they do, just say "no". You don't have to take responsibility for other people's lives, and you don't have to help them to clean up their self-inflicted messes. Yes, we have a responsibility to do what we can to help others - but we also have a divine responsibility to ourselves, to protect ourselves from emotional vampires who use us up and drag us down.

#15 MagsJee

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:37 AM

QUOTE (Cath42 @ 27/02/2013, 11:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The best thing you can do is to let all three of these women go. No doubt each of them will contact you in the future when things are hitting the fan, and when they do, just say "no". You don't have to take responsibility for other people's lives, and you don't have to help them to clean up their self-inflicted messes. Yes, we have a responsibility to do what we can to help others - but we also have a divine responsibility to ourselves, to protect ourselves from emotional vampires who use us up and drag us down.

^^ This.

It is not your job to save them.  Be a friend (if you insist) but don't be a martyr.

#16 MadamDivine

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:44 AM

Wednesdays- thank you for that information.
With the 1st women I have tried to keep open connection, but haven't received a reply from any communication in weeks sad.gif. I know she has read at least the FB messages (thank you FB for telling me messages have been read) So i guess i can't do anymore then I have. She knows where I am and how to contact me.

Cath42- I do feel extremely used by the second women and i have basically told her that I can't anymore and I don't want to know. I know he is still controlling her in many ways but I need to protect myself as well and my children who will get emotionally hurt when she lets them down too.



How do you say no though? I know men in DV situations want these womens friends to give up and quit... what happens when everyone does just that?

I want to shake them and yell what are you doing!!!!!! Worst thing is there are children involved in every one of these womens lives, young children who are being affected. Friend 1 children are young boys and I have seen the way they talk to their mum and other people because they think its ok, alot of what they say should never even be known by a child let alone spoken by them.

#17 sedawson

Posted 27 February 2013 - 11:48 AM

QUOTE (MadamDivine @ 27/02/2013, 11:19 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I guess it depends on what you mean by enabler? I am one because they can always fall back to me? because I let them?

I just don't understand why they seem to want to be miserable?


I have this stupid mentality that I did it, why can't they...


Yes, I would say that they subconsciously know they can keep being somewhere awful because at least you're there for them. Their taking more responsibility for their own lives - and their kids' - is not currently a requirement of your relationship with them, and it can't be.

Sometimes people find it easier to be miserable because changing what we're familiar with is always hard. They're miserable, but at least that's a known quantity.

You did it, why can't they ... Bring out trite new-agey but applicable concept that we all have our paths to walk and no-one else can walk them for us. At some point hopefully they WILL do what you have done. Would anything that others did for you, have allowed you to reach that decision earlier than you did?

#18 Sasha Jensen

Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:15 PM

QUOTE (Cath42 @ 27/02/2013, 12:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The first woman in particular, if she's been in an abusive relationship since she was 17, is probably beyond ever being able to leave. That relationship is probably only going to end with the death of one of them, or one of their kids, and there's nothing you or anyone else can do about it. All you can do is protect yourself and your own kids.


Gosh, that is sad. I'm so sorry you're in this situation MadamDivine.

#19 Swarley

Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:15 PM

I'd have to say this....

QUOTE
When I was emotionally worn out and it was adversely affecting my life.


As hard and frustrating as it may be, I would try stick by them for as long as I could. In that situation, I think it's important to have a supportive friend who questions his treatment of her to keep her from becoming even more isolated.

It might take forever, it might never happen - but I think having someone there reminding them that it's not okay is integral to them ever putting a stop to it.
I don't think I'd be very good at it because I'm not a strong person, but I would still try to stay around for as long as I could before it started negatively affecting me and my family.

Though I wouldn't think less of anyone who chose to walk away either.

#20 sarkazm76

Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:23 PM

Just quickly.... my first partner (on and off for 5 years) was emotionally and mentally abusive and manipulative.  I was no push over but I didn't realised how he slowly wore down my self esteem over time.  What changed in the end for me was reading a book called "Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them".  I happenned to see it in a friends book collection.
Made me realise that I had the power in the relationship, not him.  He was treating me the way he did as he was terrified I would leave and he would be alone.  Once I realised that and realised I cared more about myself then him... it was much easier to make the decision that I'd wasted enough time on him.  Still hard to leave and stay away... but with support of family/ friends and a very good therapsit I sorted myself out.

I really feel for my friends - what I put them through sad.gif
He was also a drug addict for the last 12 months or so (heroin) so I also know what it is like to try and help someone only to be lied to and shat on over and over again.  There really is nothing you can do to help some people except to say "I am here when you are ready to leave".   The only other thing is to get them the sort of help that makes them want to leave/ ready to leave/ find the power to leave.

Edited by sarkazm76, 27 February 2013 - 12:24 PM.


#21 trishalishous

Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:25 AM

QUOTE (knittingkitten @ 27/02/2013, 08:42 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would back away but ensure that they know that I will support them if they want to change their life.

This. Im havin to do this with a friend ATM. She knows Im here for her, and Ill help when she needs it, but I cant do much more than that

#22 JustBeige

Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:39 AM

I would stop now.

Friend 1  - all you can do is send her a 'when you are serious about leaving him for good, please let me know' kind of message.

Friend 2 - I would be doing the same as you.  I would be leaving the ball in her court to contact me and her to do the organising.  I would also not be telling my kids anything until the day we are leaving, just in case she bails.

Friend 3 - I would again be there to help if she seriously needs it, but I would start asking her "what do you want to happen? "How are you going to get him to do that?" type questions when she rings to whinge.   Sometimes, we do need someone to hear us and validate our feelings, but when it becomes too much, asking them questions that make them think will achieve either - they will stop calling as they dont want to admit the problem and just want you to listen (which means its not a balanced relationship) or it will make them think and hopefully take action.

The only other thing I would think seriously long and hard about it making contact with CHS (DOCS) and starting a case file on them, especially if they are abusive and children are being impacted.

#23 epl0822

Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:59 AM

Each friend's situation is different so may require a different response. However, as somebody who has been there, I want to add this.

When you're in an abusive relationship, it is seemingly impossible to leave. Unless you've been on the receiving end of abuse, you won't understand the extent of the difficulty. The abused person may fear for their lives, they may have severe self esteem issues going on, and so on. So please don't get frustrated if a friend in an abusive relationship doesn't leave or keeps returning to her partner. There are deep psychological issues that you just won't understand.

What helped me the most were my friends telling me over and over and over endlessly - that I deserved better and that the guy I was with was mistreating me. I kept making excuses for him or believed him when he gave me excuses so I needed a sane person to tell me verbally that what he was doing was disgusting and wrong. Because I was living with daily abuse and endless depressive thoughts of self hatred (and a man constantly telling me I was ugly and stupid and so on), it took more than a few conversations to click. It took me months of my friends repeatedly telling me the same thing before it finally sank in. I am still close to one of these friends and I am hugely grateful she didn't give up in frustration.




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