A reader writes in:
Hi there Fabulous Feministe-ers, I’d love to have Feministe reader advice on a crappy situation a good friend is in right now.
I have a good friend that I’ve known for about 5 years now. We’re not as close as we used to be, and even less so now that we live about 20 miles away from each other and I have limited access to transportation. She started dating this guy (whom I haven’t actually met as of yet) that she’s been thrilled about… at least at first. They hit it off right away, and have been talking about marriage and kids. The problem? He’s an alcoholic, and has been physically and verbally abusive to her after drinking heavily. He’s also cheated on her with her soon-to-be ex-roommate, and is wildly jealous of all men she’s been with in the past, or is friends with currently. She has been in situations like this before, and managed to leave the guy and get herself into a safer position relatively quickly, and with the help of her enormous circle of friends. This time around, though, she doesn’t have such a vast support network, and feels that her situation is hopeless.
I feel for her immensely and want to help her, but how? I am not in a position to offer her a place to stay for at least another year or so, and I can hardly even help her move if it came down to it. Her ex-boyfriend has offered to help her financially if she just kicks her boyfriend out, no strings attached (for the record, he’s a really great guy, and not one of the problematic exes I referenced earlier), but she doesn’t seem interested in his offer. She knows intellectually that her situation is terrible, and that there is no reason for her to keep staying with him or to try to make it work, and she talks openly about her problems with her boyfriend. Having been in a similar situation with an ex of my own, a terrible roller coaster of a relationship that she witnessed the entirety of, I’ve offered her advice and told her in the nicest way I could that his behavior will NOT change, and that she shouldn’t hold out for him to realize how terrible his behavior is. I hate to see her go down this path, and I know all too well what it feels like to know that you’ve wasted years of your life waiting for an abusive, alcoholic asshole to stop being an abusive, alcoholic asshole. When I asked her what’s keeping her with him, knowing all of these bad things aren’t likely to change, she said that “when it’s good, it’s really, really good.” And I get it, I do. But she knows that it won’t get better. How do I help her make the next step, and let go of the good times that will only get more and more infrequent? For her own well-being? She doesn’t feel that she has any good friends left anymore to turn to, and while I don’t know this for sure, I suspect that the reason for this is that her boyfriend’s jealousy (most of her friends are male) and the isolation of being in an abusive relationship are partly to blame.
What advice would you offer me in helping her, or what advice would you give her if you were her friend?
I’m thinking I may send her the link to this post once it’s published, because I wonder if maybe seeing what’s going on, written down, with many people’s reactions, may help nudge her in the right direction… or nudge her boyfriend OUT of her life.
Thank you all for any advice you may have.
What do you all suggest?
And remember that you can send your questions to feministe -at- gmail -dot- com.