ON ABUSE: SUPPORTING THE FRIEND APPROPRIATELY
This is a vent. To give myself the encouragement to keep on keeping on
A friend of mine is enduring a crazy time. Mentioned her before.
Partner is behaving in abusive ways before, during, and after their Opening Up. Likely divorce, and now partner is being all wacky abusive about that
Yes, I know. You can't expect success Opening Up what is BROKEN to begin with. Sigh.
WHAT I HAVE DONE SO FAR
So how do I as a friend keep on supporting my abused friend? When their Opening Up has gone very sour? And now it is the game of abuse Hell? I care about my friend.
I skip the Opening Up bits. This was broken BEFORE that.
Help listen and prioritize realistic doable coulds.
It wasn't the right thing to do. Why harp on that end? Skip the shoulds. Get on to finding her coulds. What she COULD do from this point in the journey. What are her options?
I told friend that I do not think this partner is a healthy one or brings out the best in friend.
Rest the first day or so from the shock of being thrown out of her home. Then start breaking things down to doable. What COULD be done today? One baby step to move it forward? Move it up Maslow's needs. Secure them one at a time before the level up.
Hit rock bottom? Start there then. Food. Shelter. Like that.
My opinion is that friend is better off WITHOUT this person in their life. I do not harp on this. Stating it firmly once was enough. Friend knows where I stand.
I also tell friend I'll still be their friend whether they divorce or stay with the abusive partner. They can make their own adult decisions in life.
Friend is not a baby. Friend is a grown person. My friendship with friend is based on FRIEND TO ME. Not who friend partners with. (But don't ever expect me to hang out with them as a couple. I have a limit, and I have NO desire to spend time with that person.)
Supporting her precontemplation - I tell friend where aid/resources may be in our local community and online.
Counseling, legal, etc. For divorce, abuse, rebuilding a marriage -- whatever way friend wants to take it. There is aid. She is in control of her life destiny. Not me. And certainly not her partner. SHE chooses where she wants to be.
One thing I always do? Speak Out Loud list.
The first time I told her I wasn't going to look or peek -- it was just for herself to get a handle on what has been happening in an objective way. The Speak Out Loud tactics list is super useful for that. Just be honest and take it to highlighter.
The second time she asked me for that list she said she wasn't ready to do it the first time. And there were things she had not put. I told her it was ok, and it was only for her. She can take it in baby steps. And I still did not need to know what she marks or not.
It was her private business. If she wanted to share, I could listen, but it was up to HER. I wanted to return some of her power to HER where it belongs. Not take it away like her partner was doing -- her life is HERS. Her business is HERS.
The second time I gave her the list with these others to consider:
She took it home. That is all I can do. Other than hope she's finding her way in all this maze.
The one thing I strongly suggested was getting her name in the queue at the shelter. Not for going to check in though that was an option -- but to get on the list for counseling.
Friend struggles with pride and availing self to aid.
I asked her for permission to make a general appointment for her weeks ago.
She was waffly at first but I told her she could always cancel the appt. But those things have a huge wait list. Get it on NOW and have the choice to cancel it. But not end up wanting it, and then have to wait more even more weeks to get to it just because she hesitated.
I'm glad she agreed and more glad she kept it. Because it was 3 weeks out.
Friend originally planned to go alone and then asked me to take her for moral support and in case the appointment left her emotionally bedraggled -- a safe ride home. I praised friend for thinking that out. She went. I did not push for details -- let her appt be HERS.
I remind friend that something has to change if friend stays in this relationship. And the something is NOT friend just resigning self to just living with abusive treatment.
Friend has the right to be treated nicely in relationship. Friend can put in things to the relationship. But partner has to put in things TOO. I encourage friend to talk to other people -- friends, professionals. To get perspective.
It is not a relationship if friend puts in 100% toward helping to tend all his buckets and partner puts in nothing toward helping to tend her buckets of mental health, emotional health, physical health, and spiritual health.
Making it so she feels mentally unsafe around him, emotionally unsafe, physically unsafe, spiritually unsafe -- that's not healthy relationship.
Other people's stories -- esp other people who have left abusive situations successfully. I try to include friend in my life -- when friend wants to be over here. Just engage in SOMETHING normal somewhere while all this nutty is raging on.
Also because I know abuse happens in secret. Tell her family, her in-laws of the situation. All the friends. Quietly and firmly. Not being all emotionally wild.
Just firm what it is, what she's dealing with, what has been happening and what she plans to do next.
It helps hold self accountable when you tell others. You cannot renege on yourself as easily then.
It helps protect you from shenanigans too -- other people are watching.
Be it just come to dinner and a movie or help fold laundry or vac. Depends what time of day friend calls announcing need to be with people. Friend knows they are welcome to call any time and come over if it works out schedule wise. But if if you catch me in the midst of chores... well grab some towels and do some folding then while you vent at me!I try to not judge when friend airs out. I speak up my limit when I'm just too full -- and I just can't hear any more. I tell friend to call me into account if I am crossing any of friend's limits.
I balance the need to be there in a time of need for my friend and my own need to be alone with my family and not dealing in wackadoodle 24/7
Most of the time I can catch myself when I start to edge into judge-y. I apologize to friend and hold my own leash. Friend appreciates this and really? Our friendship is good. It's their marriage that's all wackadoodle.
I also know that if friend does not have safe people to talk to, friend may not talk to anyone at all -- and then friend is stuck-er.
I am honest about where I am at. When I am overwhelmed with wacko -- and I note that if I as a bystander feel overwhelmed what SHE must feel is that much more.
I admit this situation is taxing all of my communication skills. I hear all kinds of vindictive CRAZY and I want to burst into a rage of "What the FUCK?! What kinda crap is THAT?! WHY do you stick around for that sort of abusive treatment?!"
When I know full well that is NOT the way to go. That kind of tone is heaping emotional aggressive at friend's door and they probably already get plenty of that aggressive abuse stuff from partner.
So I just say it firmly and quietly -- "That is NOT NORMAL in a healthy relationship. That is extreme BAD behavior. You do not deserve to be treated this way. You deserve to be treated nicely. Ugh!"
I have told friend all this just straight up. I acknowledge it could be Hard to Hear. I acknowledge it is Hard to Say to her.
I'm not a professional. I do not pretend to be one.
I'm only a friend. I have limits. But I would not be the best friend I could be to her if I avoided Hard Conversation in Hard Times.
Shared burden makes the load lighter.
Shared joys makes it greater.
It sucks we're in a time of suckage. There it is. All I can do is try to be there in suckage. The ministry of presence. I choose to endure this with you at your side. (In appropriate ways.) Because I'm your friend.
Having had that convo? I now lather, rinse, repeat this one in that tone as many times as needed when I hear some new CRAZY.
"That is NOT NORMAL in a healthy relationship. That is extreme BAD behavior. You do not deserve to be treated this way. You deserve to be treated nicely. Ugh!"
I will repeat it as many times needed.