Should you speak out at a wedding of a friend marrying an abusive man?

That’s Cary Tennis’s advice to a woman who witnesses her friend being subjected to a variety of abusive behaviors from her fiance. He beats up her dog. He monitors her phone. He violates her physical boundaries. I like Cary’s explanation — that silence is enabling — but I wonder if what amounts to a public humiliation will only marginalize the friend more.

The letter-writer should absolutely take that dog to the vet, though, permission or not.

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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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82 Responses

  1. Wordwizard
    Wordwizard May 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

    Yes, of course one should speak out! You are also warning all the others witnessing the marriage to keep a close eye out. It will be harder for the man to isolate her, since there is no more “secret” to be kept hidden. First talk to your friend in private, though. Maybe you can put enough doubts in her mind that she will call it off at the last moment. Even though yes, you already tried, and she isn’t at that point YET, the Moment Of Truth is the actual wedding day. + DON’T forget to alert the ASPCA, NOW!

  2. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie May 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm |

    Not every wedding has the old “if anyone should object …” line, and it seems more dramatic than useful to stand up and make an objection without saying why (telling the couple later, “in private” – yeah, right. That’ll work.).

    I’d tell as many of her friends and relatives as I could, and I’d tell the local cops what I saw and heard, and I’d steal the dog, and I’d forego attending the wedding.

    All of the above will give him “reasons” to beat her more. As if he needs “reasons.” He’ll just use those as justification, though.

    There’s not much else the friend can do. She will be villified for whatever she does, but she may prevent her friend from being killed.

    This is a horrible scenario all around.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune May 8, 2013 at 6:11 pm |

      it seems more dramatic than useful to stand up and make an objection without saying why (telling the couple later, “in private” – yeah, right. That’ll work.).

      Indeed. My wedding consisted almost completely of people I would take very seriously if they said they felt I was in danger if I got married. But if someone had pulled that shenanigan, my immediate and likely permanent impression would not be “bold caring person cares boldly” but “shit-stirring pissant stirs shit”. It would help nothing,and it would worsen everything.

      Not to mention, if LW has already talked to her friend about her abuse, this is extra super pointless as a measure. Also, seriously? Right before someone presumably departs on a week(s)long honeymoon with their abuser is when you want to call the abuser out on their shit?

  3. EG
    EG May 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm |

    OK, first of all, I am appalled that the topics listed for this question are, and I copy and paste: ” SINCE YOU ASKED, PETS, DOGS, ANIMAL RIGHTS, ANIMAL WELFARE, ANIMAL CRUELTY, LIFE NEWS.”

    So, five different tags regarding animals, and not one single one like “abusive relationships” or “abusive/controlling partners” or something like that.

    As to the advice: I understand the rationale, but I think this is the kind of action that will make the letter-writer feel smug and righteous and not only not help the letter-writer’s friend (or dog), but will actively harm her (and the dog). Because if the letter-writer does this, the abusive partner/husband will insist on the friend cutting the writer out of her life. Any communication with the writer will become verboten. She’ll be cut off from one of the few people whom she can turn to for support when, God willing, she leaves this shithead, and because the writer will have done something so extreme and publicly humiliating, she’ll be able to think–even be justified in thinking–that the writer is erratic and unreliable and not interested in her well-being, and she’ll be able to justify dismissing all that the writer says.

    Definitely take that dog to the vet.

    And I hope she gets rid of this asshole and doesn’t have kids with him.

  4. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte May 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm |

    I wrote about this at Pandagon:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/08/what-do-you-do-when-you-see-domestic-violence-call-the-police/

    My feeling is that the police are first resort. Yes, they may just punt it to animal control, but they may also arrest him for animal abuse. Which, considering how close things are to the wedding, will likely derail it. Stopping the wedding is a good thing; abusers tend to escalate after a commitment is made and it’s harder to get out of the relationship. I’ve seen so many abuse stories where the abuse dramatically escalated literally the day after the wedding, when the abuser thought he was home free.

    1. orangedesperado
      orangedesperado May 8, 2013 at 7:04 pm |

      The thing about calling the police: if there is obvious physical battering from him to her, then the police will respond appropriately, possibly, depending on their training about domestic violence, and other factors like sensitivity training, racism, classism, etc . It is not an uncommon situation that the primary aggressor will call the police and claim he is a victim of abuse, while showing off minor injuries that were made by the victim in self-defense as he was assaulting her, and then the VICTIM is arrested and charged with domestic violence. Many abusers are very skilled manipulators, who are very adept at tactics like this.

      I also want to add that unfortunately the police cannot charge an abuser with non-physical abuse. I faced a chronically raging partner who very clearly understood that if his rage tipped over into physical assault that he could be charged. This did not stop him from gaslighting, blaming, manipulating, screaming, threatening, breaking trivial household items during a fit, and many other NON-PHYSICAL abuse tactics. This person also invaded my friendships with his charm, and several close friends of mine became his close personal pal = less support for me, more confirmation of his image control as ” a really nice, helpful guy” (= loan sharking, deliberate alienation for me from my friends).

      Yes, call the police if there is an obvious physical assault happening, preferably with credible witnesses on her side. Remember however, that most abusers abuse is psychological.

      1. Datdamwuf
        Datdamwuf May 8, 2013 at 8:40 pm |

        orangedesperado, I can attest to having the same thing happen to me, and when I tried to leave it escalated to physical, and yes I got arrested when I was defending myself. Every thing you wrote here, my ex did too.

      2. Kierra
        Kierra May 8, 2013 at 9:42 pm |

        But wouldn’t the fact that he maliciously injured the dog count as physical violence? He might not be charged with domestic abuse, but animal abuse would be an okay substitute if it postponed/canceled the wedding.

        1. orangedesperado
          orangedesperado May 9, 2013 at 10:19 pm |

          It sounds like the friend with the abusive fiancee has been unwilling to even take the dog to the vet (ie questions from vet = exposure, discovery). The letter writer would have to call the police/SPCA, etc. and make a statement, but they may not even be able to make the charges stick since it is a third party report from a person who did not witness this attack happening – and no doubt animal-abuser-fiancee will deny, deny, deny, and abused fiancee will feel trapped and minimize, and no doubt be in for some abuse for “telling”, and then be angry with the letter writer for exposing this = a horrible mess, which it already is.

          For example, locally a couple abandoned something like 17 cats and a geriatric blind dog with numerous mammary cancer tumours in an empty apartment after they skipped out on the rent. They left no food or water for the animals. The animals were drinking blue toilet water and eating aquarium gravel when they were found five days later, and a few of the kittens were dead. Despite knowing both of these people’s names, sleuthing on Facebook, and a really active effort by several animal rescuers to have these people prosecuted for animal cruelty – and the people provided the names and addresses to the police, SPCA, etc. – as far as I know no charges have been laid – even though the male in the couple actually surrendered at least one more dog, using his real name, with ID to animal services !

          So theory: animal abuse is against the law and charges will ensue when cruelty is proven. Practice: uh…depends on the local laws, juristiction etc., etc.

  5. orangedesperado
    orangedesperado May 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm |

    Whew.

    I think the standing up at the wedding thing might work fine in a Hollywood movie, but is not realistic, and will alienate her friend, and probably ruin their friendship forever. It is like pouring gasoline on a fire = bad strategy.

    There is a book called “Helping Her Get Free” which is for friends and family of women in an abusive relationship. What it says over and over is that the best strategy is to try to position yourself as her ALLY, and to make your friendship/relationship a space space that she can turn to for support/assistance when and if she wants/needs it. Women in abusive relationships are told over and over by their abusive partner about what is wrong/deficient/unlikeable about them, how they are not smart enough/financially secure enough/educated enough to make good decisions for themselves, especially as the abuser enjoys the control of making the decisions/judgements FOR her. The book emphasizes over and over that even if you as her friend do not agree with her choices, that they are her choices to make.

    It is important to speak with her privately that as her friend that you are uncomfortable with some things you have seen, been told, that the best position is to be that of a supportive listener – not a well meaning friend who is telling her what to do (just like her abuser !).

    I think the advice given was pretty bad, from an uninformed place. If I was in the friend’s shoes I KNOW if would be really hard to bite my tongue – but also really hard to get cut out of her life while wondering if I could have helped. I think the letter writer should have a brief discussion with her friend’s mother (assuming her friend and her mother have a close, reasonably functional relationship) that lets the mother know that the letter writer has been told and personally observed some things that are extreme red flags. And a very specific, anonymous call to the SPCA would be prudent. If this is not feasible then I am all in favour of a dog-napping in cooperation with a dog rescue group with a good track record.

    The letter writer should also call the domestic violence hotline to get some informed strategies about what to do that may help. If it is possible, I would also send a copy of “Why Does He Do That ?” to her workplace (if she does not work with her abuser or his friends or family). She might throw it out, or read it in 6 months, or it might help her situation to become crystal clear instantly.

    The red flags in this situation are severe and screaming. What a nightmare.

  6. Chataya
    Chataya May 8, 2013 at 7:12 pm |

    Terrible idea. The abuser will just isolate her even more to keep her away from the people who “hate him” and “try to put ideas in her head.”

  7. Donna L
    Donna L May 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm |

    Cary’s advice is horrendously misguided (and almost certainly counterproductive), for all the reasons everyone has mentioned. It’s something for Hollywood, not real life. Not to mention that I’ve never once seen a wedding in real life in which there’s a “speak now or forever hold your peace” moment.

    Just about the only positive thing I see — apart from the fact that the woman in question has a good, supportive friend — is that the woman in question apparently was having second thoughts herself. Otherwise she wouldn’t have been likely to follow up her own comment by saying, “that’s what battered women say, isn’t it?” I hope she didn’t go through with it. Sometimes, though, people are so concerned about the public embarrassment and humiliation of a last-minute canceled wedding that they go ahead even when they have a good idea that it’s a mistake.

  8. Datdamwuf
    Datdamwuf May 8, 2013 at 8:54 pm |

    After escaping my abusive relationship I’ve read a lot about it and my experience says this is a very bad idea. Unmasking the abuser to anyone is likely to escalate the violence toward the intimate partner because zie will blame the partner. I learned my abuser was not unusual in that he showed a kind, sweet nature to everyone except me and when I exposed what he was doing it was bad, very bad.

  9. khw
    khw May 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm |

    Speaking out at the wedding sounds like a terrible idea. It would give him the perfect excuse to justify cutting out friends that could support her as “that’s what her [insert slur] friend did at the wedding.”

    I like the idea of having established a safe word, and would agree that talking with the bride’s family would be a good idea. As might be speaking with local domestic violence support groups and the police.

    As a HUGE dog person (I have three), I would be totally overbearing about the dog, and would insist on having the poor puppy looked at by a vet. It would also be useful in later proving violent behavior, even if in many jurisdictions violent acts towards animals is considered mere damage to property. I get unnerved by acts of violence towards animals, especially dogs. There’s not that much of a difference between hitting a dog and hitting a small child.

    (interestingly, a friend linked to this NTY article on FB “The Animal-Cruelty Syndrome” (for those who might be interested):
    https://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/magazine/13dogfighting-t.html?_r=0)

    So, yes, it’s a pretty horrible situation with no easy answers.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L May 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm |

      There’s not that much of a difference between hitting a dog and hitting a small child.

      I agree. And I get equally and horribly upset about both.

      1. yes
        yes May 9, 2013 at 5:29 am |

        I don’t understand these kind of statements. Hitting children is far worse then hitting animals. Even really cute, sweet dogs that are wonderful companions.

        Hitting a dog makes you shit, sure. I loath those people. But it’s not remotely close to hitting a child.

        1. Octolol
          Octolol May 9, 2013 at 7:50 am |

          I think they meant “people who hit dogs are very likely to also hit children” not “hitting dogs is morally equal to hitting children.”

        2. miga
          miga May 9, 2013 at 11:11 am |

          The thing is that both these creatures are defenseless against this abuse, have done absolutely nothing to deserve it. And with that imma save any further discussion for the next spillover thread.

        3. Meera
          Meera May 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm |

          I don’t understand what you’re saying here — it reads as terribly speciesist, and thus not really appropriate for a site that recognizes oppression as intersectional. Yes, hitting a dog is just as bad as hitting a human animal.

        4. Lurking
          Lurking May 9, 2013 at 9:59 pm |

          I don’t understand what you’re saying here — it reads as terribly speciesist, and thus not really appropriate for a site that recognizes oppression as intersectional. Yes, hitting a dog is just as bad as hitting a human animal.

          Yeah, NO. Women are far more important than dogs. “Speciesist”… please. Not everyone here is an ARA.

        5. Victoria
          Victoria May 10, 2013 at 2:03 am |

          It goes back to harming beings that cannot defend themselves, therein the similarities lie. Furthermore the debate about how comparable the abuse of dogs to the abuse of children/women is a distraction, since there is a proven link between the abuse of animals and the abuse of people. Given that every abuse fact sheet I’ve ever seen lists mistreatment of animals as a warning sign that a person could be abusive, it’s splitting hairs to talk about the two like they are separate issues. Arguing about which abuse is worse distracts from this and it gets us no where.

        6. matlun
          matlun May 10, 2013 at 7:27 am |

          …it reads as terribly speciesist, and thus not really appropriate for a site…

          I actually think quite a few people on this site are unashamedly “speciesist”. Including me.

          Why, just a few years ago I was taking part in an organized murderous campaign to exterminate the rats that were trying to survive in our family home. I would not have treated human squatters in the same way.

        7. EG
          EG May 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm |

          I actually think quite a few people on this site are unashamedly “speciesist”. Including me.

          Agreed. And don’t get me started on the cockroaches in my apartment.

        8. A4
          A4 May 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm |

          I’ve been experimenting with different ways of killing the ants in my bathroom… JUST LIKE A SERIAL KILLER.

        9. EG
          EG May 10, 2013 at 4:45 pm |

          Have you found any that work? The ants in my bathroom have ignored every damn thing I’ve thrown at them. They seem much hardier than your average cute mammal.

        10. Willard
          Willard May 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm |

          I keep four rats hostage, feeding them, cleaning them, psychologically manipulating them for my own amusement. I even gave them human names just to add to the injury of their imprisonment. In the mean time I kill mice that try to steal food from my kitchen. I’m basically a slave-owning mass murder.

          EPIC EYEROLL

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm |

          Yes, hitting a dog is just as bad as hitting a human animal.

          Hmm. I actually draw a line there that seems to boil down to utility. As in, if we are behaving like human animals, doing things like keeping our houses rid of vermin, defending ourselves against poisonous or attacking creatures, eating meat etc are all things that all animals do. (In case of meat-eating, it’s something all carnivores do, so it counts imho.)

          However, just randomly beating on an animal which isn’t threatening you, which isn’t food and which isn’t vermin? That’s not an action of an animal, it’s the action of a violent bully and an asshole. And in that sense I don’t really draw distinctions between abusing animals and abusing human animals.

          Sure, if I had to pick between a guy blinding a puppy and a guy blinding a kid, I’d go with him blinding the puppy. But I never claimed not to be speciesist :P

        12. A4
          A4 May 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm |

          I squirted a bunch of that ant bait on a piece of plastic packaging and put it in front of the hole they come out of. It’s not good for if you have kids or pets that lick things because it’s a toxic gel and is also probably sweet. I think it helps that they all seem to originate from one spot and there’s so much of the poison for them to encounter.

          They’re supposed to take it back to the colony and kill everything there. Sometimes the ants die while eating it right there, and then later the bodies disappear, presumably taken by their cohorts. It has definitely reduced the number of ants I see. The number was escalating and now it is dwindling. I don’t know if it will work long term though.

        13. yes
          yes May 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm |

          If you can find where they’re coming in, I found a great solution to my own ant problem was actually a line of cinnamon on a cleaned surface blocking their path. Sounds strange, but apparently it interferes with their breathing. It’s exactly like choking a human being, except bigoted, too! :D

    2. khw
      khw May 8, 2013 at 9:11 pm |

      As a personal anecdote:

      I had a friend who moved to another to marry a guy who made my flesh creep. I couldn’t say that this was due to anything in particular, but I suspected that there would be problems (he eventually received a conviction for domestic violence largely as the event was so loud neighbors called the cops – and it took place in public. Both were arrested).

      I chose NOT to say anything in that particular case as I knew that had I said anything, it would have been a long, long time before she would have spoken to me again (if ever).

      This way, I was able to use my google-skills to compile a file of information (on what her legal situation might be as an immigrant woman with a conjugal visa, where there were domestic violence shelters, etc.) which I could send to her at a later date.

      The cops were really good to her and looked after her really well. They actually took her to a center with a good legal team. The file I’d prepared was only really useful for giving her an ideal on how to work with the lawyers in her case.

      I saw her for the first time in several years just before Xmas. I started to apologize for my silence before she left. She interrupted me and very clearly confirmed what I’d feared – she lost contact with others who had offered opinions that “things were moving too quickly.”

      Keeping quiet did mean that I was able to help her in a very small way later on. It really was not an easy decision, but I still don’t know what else I could have done.

    3. EG
      EG May 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm |

      Attacking and destroying even property beloved by a partner is a major red flag. Escalating to a living being is unacceptable. People who attack helpless smaller creatures are cowardly scum.

      1. orangedesperado
        orangedesperado May 8, 2013 at 10:43 pm |

        Suggested correction:

        “People who attack other creatures/people are scum.”

        1. EG
          EG May 8, 2013 at 10:54 pm |

          No. I’m not a pacifist. There can be any number of good reasons to attack another creature or person, as far as I’m concerned. I am specifically talking about those who vent their anger on smaller, dependent creatures/people who have neither the strength nor the resources to fight back.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 8, 2013 at 11:05 pm |

          Suggested correction:

          “People attack other people for a variety of reasons, not all of them scummy (self-defense, in combat, etc). People who initiate attacks on helpless innocents such as puppies are uniformly cowardly scum.”

        3. EG
          EG May 8, 2013 at 11:12 pm |

          That one works for me.

      2. orangedesperado
        orangedesperado May 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm |

        There is a difference between attacking and defending. I am all for defending a person/animal/creature who is under attack/threat, not so down with the concept of attack as the primary aggressor.

        1. EG
          EG May 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm |

          I’m not talking about defending. I’m talking about reasons for attacking. If a black person responds to a white person calling them a racist name by decking that white person, I have no problem with it. If the letter-writer’s friend had come home and found her dog beaten and her response was to kick her fiance in the balls, I also have no problem with that. Then there are the more political reasons for attack. If you are overthrowing an oppressive regime, you’re going to have to be willing to attack, and I’m not willing to condemn wholesale every revolution.

        2. A4
          A4 May 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm |

          If a black person responds to a white person calling them a racist name by decking that white person, I have no problem with it.

          Wow really? I feel like if someone calls me a “faggot” that still does not give me the right to hit them. I actually think it’s very very important that I understand that.

          If, on the other hand they say “I’m going to beat your ass, faggot”, then a preemptive punch MIGHT be justified, depending on the speaker.

        3. EG
          EG May 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm |

          Yeah, really. I have no problem with it, morally speaking. It may not–probably is not–necessarily be the wisest or best course of action. But I don’t condemn it at all.

        4. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm |

          I don’t go around punching people who call me racist/sexist names, but at the same time I don’t feel sorry for any racist/sexist asshole who gets a punch to the nose as an immediate consequence to oppression someone else verbally. Their verbal oppression contributes to a culture of death for women and POC, so too bad for their nose.

        5. A4
          A4 May 9, 2013 at 5:05 pm |

          I think escalating a verbal altercation into a physical one is a very tricky moral ground to navigate, and certainly involves the intersection of many identities. The person making racist remarks might be part of a dominant class with regard to race but a marginalized class with regards to gender. In that case the use of physical violence to silence could easily be viewed as it’s own contribution to a culture of death for women, while supposedly fighting a culture of death for POC.

          I find it very hard to admire or condone physical violence when one is not defending against the threat of physical violence. If you can turn and walk away instead of punching, and you choose to punch, then I will definitely condemn your actions.

        6. EG
          EG May 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |

          Why should you have to cede the space by walking away, though? Why does their badness as a human being mean that they get to own the space?

          Really, though, we may able to elucidate each other’s moral beliefs, but I doubt we’ll end up agreeing. That’s OK. Just to be clear, I don’t have any investment in convincing anybody else to change their moral beliefs to match mine on this issue.

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 9, 2013 at 6:07 pm |

          Why does their badness as a human being mean that they get to own the space?

          Indeed. Also, it must be awful nice to be able to walk away every time somebody is racist/sexist/homophobic/what have you, and still eventually have somewhere to walk to. Not everyone has that luxury.

        8. A4
          A4 May 9, 2013 at 7:46 pm |

          Also, it must be awful nice to be able to walk away every time somebody is racist/sexist/homophobic/what have you, and still eventually have somewhere to walk to.

          blah blah blah go away.

          Why should you have to cede the space by walking away, though? Why does their badness as a human being mean that they get to own the space?

          EG, I think you’re full of shit. I think if a big gay man was sitting in your campus coffeeshop and a small woman turned to her friend and said “haha look at that faggot” and the dude turned around and punched her as hard as he could in the face, then you would definitely condemn his actions. I certainly would, and so would MacavityKitsune, I’m sure.

          My point about walking away is that if you are SO ANGRY that you feel the need to punch someone who has not threatened you with violence, then you need to just turn around and NOT punch them. This is part of being an adult and living in a state with freedom of speech. You don’t get to punch people because they say things you don’t like because punching someone can KILL them if you are very strong, or hit the wrong place, or the person has a disability that makes them more vulnerable to physical trauma.

          For fucks sake.

        9. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm |

          A4, I just don’t think “just walk away always or you’re worthy of condemnation” is an answer that has an ounce of nuance to it. Which is why, if you’ll note, I didn’t endorse EG’s statement while disagreeing with yours.

          Please check your assumptions as to my beliefs in this matter when I’ve not indicated them in any way. Do you even know what I think about punching people in the face? Do you know what life experience I have with punching people in the face or being punched in the face? I thought not. So please stop telling me what I think.

          *snark*

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 9, 2013 at 8:06 pm |

          (should think, not think)

        11. A4
          A4 May 9, 2013 at 8:12 pm |

          It’s shameless the way we flirt Mac

        12. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 9, 2013 at 8:16 pm |

          A4, I’m not even lying, I LOLed IRL.

        13. EG
          EG May 9, 2013 at 8:38 pm |

          EG, I think you’re full of shit. I think if a big gay man was sitting in your campus coffeeshop and a small woman turned to her friend and said “haha look at that faggot” and the dude turned around and punched her as hard as he could in the face, then you would definitely condemn his actions.

          Think what you like. Since that is an imaginary scenario that I am not present at, I feel no need to take a stand one way or another. You’ll note that I didn’t say that punching somebody (and I never said “as hard as he could in the face”–I am capable of using my own illustrative language, thanks very much, and I have no need of yours) was always the correct, or the best, or the most moral course of action. I can of course think of scenarios in which I wouldn’t think it was justified or moral (is the person doing the name-calling a child?).

          That said, if someone says “ha ha look at that faggot” to or about a large, burly gay man…yeah, I don’t feel much sympathy if that someone gets punched. That’s the risk that someone took.

          As for freedom of speech–I’m not sure what the state has to do with it. I didn’t say that the person saying “faggot” has no right to press charges, I didn’t say that person should be arrested, and I didn’t say that representatives of the state should administer beatings. I said that in my opinion, being punched the person you said “faggot” to would be morally justified. The state has to uphold freedom of speech, not I, and if this results in a society where people are afraid to call gay men “faggots,” well, that’s fine by me.

          There seems to be a common meme among liberals that physical violence is never a justified response to violent language. And you can think I’m full of shit in objecting to it, but I think you’re full of shit in your insistence that there is no point at which non-physical harassment is sufficient provocation.

        14. Willard
          Willard May 9, 2013 at 9:22 pm |

          There seems to be a common meme among liberals that physical violence is never a justified response to violent language.

          I blame Gandhi, or at least the Gandhi that group of liberals has boiled down to “non-violence ftw, lulz.”

          I said in the thread about ASU that it’d be terrifying to live in a world where hitting people over verbal stuff was okay. I didn’t bother clarifying, since I smelled this sort of thing coming, but I meant legally protected. I want someone that hits me for calling them a bigoted crypto-facist bible-thumper to get the cuffs thrown on them and watch me laughing as they’re hauled away. If someone gets called something homophobic or racist and decides the risk of assault charges is worth seeing some teeth on the pavement, well more power to them.

          Every so often legality and morality are pushed aside by that lizard-brain, the voice from generations ago that calls with the voice of your ancestors to demand blood. There’s a scene from the movie “Goon” (which I can’t really recommend here due to sexism, violence, etc) where a righteous head smashing is delivered to a guy dropping “faggots” like they were going out of style. It’s terrible, illegal, and crosses the line of morality when it goes from self-defense to beating, but when the main character asks him if wants to take the word back and he spits one more out you’re fucking ecstatic when the head-butt lands.

          The whole thing is fraught with nuance, it’s far from normative, and at risk of speaking for others here it doesn’t seem like anyone is pushing this as a good or safe idea. There’s just not a strong argument in my mind to agonize over the hypothetical well-being of someone who has no regard for the well-being of others around them.

        15. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2013 at 9:44 pm |

          -shrugs- If she gets punched for calling someone that word then too bad for her. Bet she won’t say it twice. I’m not going to cry over assholes suffering harsh consequences. It’s sure as shit better than me suffering consequences for existing. If she’s going to be mean, then she’ll eventually run into someone better at that little game. Tough.

        16. A4
          A4 May 9, 2013 at 10:39 pm |

          I hear you guys, but you can’t use physical violence as a half measure. A referee in Salt Lake City, Ricardo Portillo, was killed by getting punched in the face by an enraged teen player. If you hit someone, that means you are trying to kill them. You are trying to damage their body and you cannot control that damage.

          I’ve never hit anyone when I was angry but I have had issues with overwhelming anger and I am scared of the idea that I might become angry enough to actually hit someone just because of what they said to me. I’m sure I’d have even more issue with it if I’d had a physically abusive family instead of just a verbally abusive one. Part of dealing with that is being very clear about the idea that it is never okay to hit someone out of anger for what they have said. There is nothing constructive in that. It doesn’t liberate anyone, or contribute to the creation of a safe space. When I see someone saying it’s okay to hit people for saying mean things, I have to wonder if you’ve ever actually felt close to doing such a thing or realize how terrible and not satisfying at all that feeling is.

          You don’t have the right to sacrifice the bodies of others to your righteous anger.

        17. trees
          trees May 9, 2013 at 11:11 pm |

          There is nothing constructive in that. It doesn’t liberate anyone, or contribute to the creation of a safe space. When I see someone saying it’s okay to hit people for saying mean things, I have to wonder if you’ve ever actually felt close to doing such a thing or realize how terrible and not satisfying at all that feeling is.

          You don’t have the right to sacrifice the bodies of others to your righteous anger.

          A4

          How does this work in the context of ongoing verbal abuse? If a verbal abuse victim takes physical violent action with the reasonable expectation of ending the abuse, is that not an act of self-defense? Also, why is it the victim’s responsibility to maintain the moral high ground?

        18. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll May 9, 2013 at 11:15 pm |

          No one is saying or has said they, personally, would punch someone.Not feeling sorry for the asshole being punched isn’t saying ” you should punch people in the face”. Figure it the fuck out. And I’m calling bullshit on that whole trying to kill someone with 1 punch to the nose. That’s not the motivation behind normal people getting mad and popping someone in the face. Stop with the overly dramatic crap.

        19. igglanova
          igglanova May 10, 2013 at 2:03 am |

          If you hit someone, that means you are trying to kill them.

          No.

          When I see someone saying it’s okay to hit people for saying mean things, I have to wonder if you’ve ever actually felt close to doing such a thing or realize how terrible and not satisfying at all that feeling is.

          Do you honestly think it’s rare for people to have felt this way? You hardly hold the monopoly on anger.

          The only reason I wouldn’t plow a fucker for spitting an epithet in my direction is because I know exactly who will be arrested, and who will go free. The only dissatisfying aspect of the urge to ‘bash back’ is knowing the asymmetry of the consequences.

        20. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune May 10, 2013 at 2:27 am |

          If you hit someone, that means you are trying to kill them. You are trying to damage their body and you cannot control that damage.

          A4, literally all of those statements are hogwash. Anyone who’s even stood idly by the side of two people fighting (let alone people who’ve gotten into fights) can tell you that fighting with someone isn’t necessarily a homicidal act, and – newsflash – angry people are actually capable of controlling damage. For example, do you think the abuser in LW’s case was seriously incapable of killing a dog he was capable of casually beating and blinding? He was trying to kill it but he just couldn’t because it activated its K-9 SuperShield, Abuser Edition?

          So, uh, knock off the massive projection, take a deep breath and try real hard to stop assuming that everyone who’s ever thrown a punch was/is an uncontrollably homicidal person out to kill, maybe?

          When I see someone saying it’s okay to hit people for saying mean things, I have to wonder if you’ve ever actually felt close to doing such a thing or realize how terrible and not satisfying at all that feeling is.

          There you go with your assumptions again. What if I said I’d hit someone for calling me a slur, that I enjoyed hitting them, that I hit them exactly once and in a manner calculated to cause pain, but zero damage, and that to this day I do not regret that blow? Would that change your massive overgeneralisation about How All Humanity Feels About Violence?

        21. Alexandra
          Alexandra May 10, 2013 at 5:22 am |

          A4, I sympathize. I have typically dealt with the terrifying feeling that I might lose control of my anger by harming myself, which isn’t much of an alternative; but on those occasions where I have given vent to rage, I have inevitably gone farther than I should have, and seen my righteous anger transmuted into cruelty. And I say this having not struck a person in anger since I was ten years old, to the best of my recollection. My verbal anger is terrifying enough to me.

          I don’t want to put words or thoughts into your mouth, but part of the reason why physical expression of anger is just not an option for me under my moral code is that I know that I never learned how to control my anger; all I ever saw when people around me got angry was the total loss of control and descent into vindictiveness and cruelty. On the other hand, my attempts to totally prevent myself from feeling or expressing external anger are completely toxic to my own being. The best solution (for me) is to take a page out of Maya Angelou — sure, I forgive the people who hurt me, but I only have to stick my hand in the fire once to know that fire burns.

        22. Niall
          Niall May 10, 2013 at 6:41 am |

          I feel like if someone calls me a “faggot” that still does not give me the right to hit them.

          If someone calls me a gimp or a “fucking retard”, I know my blood pressure is gonna rise and adrenaline will kick in, I’m not going to hit them; not so much because of moral qualms, but because odds are that person is physically stronger and I’d get the shit kicked out of me.

          But I see what EG is saying. And it frustrates me that people with able-bodied privilege don’t get this. They don’t understand why I get so angry, because they haven’t had these epithets hurled at them on a regular basis. Mind you some other people who are non-privileged in some way – race, gender, sexual orientation etc. do get it and for me it’s a breath of fresh air.

        23. matlun
          matlun May 10, 2013 at 7:38 am |

          If a verbal abuse victim takes physical violent action with the reasonable expectation of ending the abuse, is that not an act of self-defense?

          No. Not in the legal sense and not in any reasonable moral sense either IMO.

          There are very good reasons why we as a society do not allow people to assault anyone they think deserves it.

          Also, why is it the victim’s responsibility to maintain the moral high ground?

          Because it is everyone’s responsibility to behave morally. We can and do differ on what the morally correct action in a specific situation is, but that principle stands.

        24. A4
          A4 May 10, 2013 at 8:58 am |

          I’m sure that teen in Utah felt like he was just hitting the referee once, not intending to really hurt him, and then the referee died.

          No hitting! Use your words!

          I also think that it is the responsibility of larger and stronger people to make sure that other people feel safe in their presence, especially during a heated verbal exchange. The strength can be physical, and it can also be related to identity and power. That means no jabbing fingers in someone’s face, and no backing them against a wall, no threatening their livelihood or education etc.

          Human interaction is not a binary of verbal or physical and there’s a lot of ways that someone can threaten without actually touching you. That’s not what I’m talking about.

          I’m talking about EG’s original blanket statement, which was so expansive as to include things like punching rude homeless people on the street, big guys beating up on women, and hitting racist old people. There was zero intersectionality in her approach and there needed to be.

          Two wrongs… still not making a right.

        25. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl May 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm |

          Human interaction is not a binary of verbal or physical and there’s a lot of ways that someone can threaten without actually touching you.

          That’s absolutely correct. But I would add that verbal abuse IS a form of violence, despite our society’s assumptions that verbal abuse is somehow less serious than physical abuse.

          That missing piece of insight is an undercurrent to much of this discussion, and it really affects how people often view interactions with both strangers and those we know and love. Women especially are socialized pretty much from birth to take verbally abusive behavior (from catcalls on the street to comments from friends, family or SOs) directed at them and not react in a violent or confrontational manner. Because it isn’t nice, or ladylike, and we should always remember our place in the pecking order. In a way, verbally abusive language can operate like a sort of dog whistle to remind women that we must take care in how we react, because the repercussion may very well be swift and violent physically. Women are also too often socialized to fear being labeled negatively as aggressive or b****y if they don’t let verbal abuse directed at them go without a big reaction.

          I would venture to say that some of the other commenters here are placing verbally abusive language on the same level as physical abuse for the reasons I’ve laid out above. Circling back to the letter writer in Tennis’s column, she likely does not perceive her SO’s behavior as abusive because he isn’t actually physical with her. It’s terribly common in domestic violence situations for women victims to minimize verbal abuse, because everyone else does as well, so why should they think it’s reason enough to leave the relationship?

        26. EG
          EG May 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm |

          If you hit someone, that means you are trying to kill them. You are trying to damage their body and you cannot control that damage.

          Bullshit. Have you never even met somebody who’s landed a punch? Not having 100% control is not the same thing as not having reasonable control, for one thing, and for another, really? You really believe that? That getting into a fight is the moral equivalent of putting poison in somebody’s morning cup of coffee? If so, our moral scales are so wildly different that there’s no point to this conversation whatsoever.

          Part of dealing with that is being very clear about the idea that it is never okay to hit someone out of anger for what they have said. There is nothing constructive in that. It doesn’t liberate anyone, or contribute to the creation of a safe space.

          Fortunately, I don’t see the creation of a safe space as the only important goal in life. As to liberating someone–yes, it can. It can be incredibly liberating, as Lolagirl points out, to realize that you do not have to put up with abuse and threats.

          When I see someone saying it’s okay to hit people for saying mean things, I have to wonder if you’ve ever actually felt close to doing such a thing or realize how terrible and not satisfying at all that feeling is.

          God, this is such a narcissistic statement. No, I’ve never been angry, never felt close to hitting somebody, never hit somebody, never seen somebody been hit, never been hit, because obviously, if I don’t accept the wisdom of A4, I just must not have any relevant experience whatsoever, right?

          Try to wrap your mind around the concept of disagreement. Sometimes other people disagree with you, because they have different values, different goals, and different morals.

          I’m talking about EG’s original blanket statement, which was so expansive as to include things like punching rude homeless people on the street, big guys beating up on women, and hitting racist old people. There was zero intersectionality in her approach and there needed to be.

          Nope, I still disagree. If a racist old person is foolish enough to call somebody such a slur, they can take their chances just like everybody else. Same goes for women and homeless people. I’m going to go ahead and quote Pheeno here:

          If she gets punched for calling someone that word then too bad for her. Bet she won’t say it twice. I’m not going to cry over assholes suffering harsh consequences….If she’s going to be mean, then she’ll eventually run into someone better at that little game. Tough.

          A4, I’m perfectly willing to accept that you don’t think that physical violence is ever a moral response to verbal provocation, but you seem deeply invested in believing that I couldn’t possibly have meant what I said, or that if I did, I hadn’t thought it through. I did. In the ASU thread, I believe I said that I wouldn’t shed tears if someone beat the shit out of that “you deserve rape” asshole. I meant it. When neo-Nazis held a demonstration in Chicago, my uncle wore steel-toed boots to the counter-demonstration so that if the lines broke, he could crack skulls (I am quoting directly; this, unlike a punch, is something that you could reasonably describe as an attempt to kill).

          I do not have any moral problems with that. Not because I am lying. Not because I am full of shit. Not because I can’t conceive of anger or the effects of violence. But because I actually disagree with you. Deal with it.

        27. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve May 11, 2013 at 11:31 am |

          There seems to be a common meme among liberals that physical violence is never a justified response to violent language.

          Are you sure it’s liberalism or pragmatism? I myself have never known an ass kicking to do anything to help a situation. And while I don’t advocate this, that is the reason why the most effective way to prevent a stalker from harming a woman is not just giving him a warning beating, but either permanently disabling him or killing him.

        28. Natalia
          Natalia May 12, 2013 at 3:56 am |

          There are certain communities (and certain situations) where violence exists as just another form of communication.

          Someone very close to me once had to defend his wife from escalating sexual harassment at work, for example.

          Talks with her superviser yielded promises, but nothing was done, and this was the kind of town where the police are not to be trusted (especially if you’re poor, and we’re talking about a family that was very poor at this time, living “on the wrong side of the tracks,” and so on), so a formal complaint was not an option.

          My friend finally showed up at his wife’s place of work, and asked the guy who was harassing her to come speak with him outside.

          Outside, he very calmly told the harasser to leave his wife alone. My friend is a young guy, and the man he was dealing with was older and bigger, and his response was basically, “Haha, what makes you think she doesn’t like it? And anyway, what are you going to do about it, you snot-nosed fag?” Or, you know, words to that generalm charming effect.

          Istead of replying, my friend punched the guy, breaking his nose, and walked away.

          He could have been arrested, but the man in question knew that the community would likely turn against him – seeing as everyone knew what was going down in that office – and so the end result was that hostilites ceased. The man was later fired from his job for “making trouble.” As in, the boss finally figured out that it was better to get rid of a worker who had no respect for boundaries.

          Was this a civilized way to resolve this situation? Obviously not. But when you are in an uncivilized environment to begin with, sometimes, you have no choice but to result to physical might.

          Some people are like sharks. They sense vulnerability and pounce on it. The man who had harrassed my friend’s wife would have probably taken things further if he realized that there was no one to protect her and that she, a slight woman who was just 19 at the time, was unable to protect herself (we know this same dude ended up getting jailed for rape several years ago – what a shocker!).

          My general take on this is that violence is ugly – but use of force often depends on your community and its standards.

          There are many situations in which violence is one’s only resort – especially when your community so drastically fails you as to provide you with no way out.

  10. Victoria
    Victoria May 8, 2013 at 9:49 pm |

    I have a similar situation with a friend, though less drastic. There are red flags, though he has never behaved violently. He has been controlling toward her (for example, while they had talked about getting engaged and he said he was proposing at a certain time, he wound up waiting several months so that she “learned to stop pressuring him and let him do things on his own time.” This coming after he’s told her he was going to propose struck me as exceptionally controlling behavior). However, the trouble is that she is as much not a feminist as I am one. She came home after college, because “women aren’t supposed to be on their own before marriage.” She has internalized her family’s fundamentalist beliefs about women, so she doesn’t even seem to understand that his controlling behavior is unhealthy. She is aware of the fact that I’m very much a feminist. I don’t know how we’ve managed to agree to disagree and never argue about our difference in opinion, but I don’t know how I can convey that his behavior is unacceptable without it seeming like I’m just attempting to “impose feminist values” on her. I mean how can I address the issue while making clear that this isn’t just a disagreement with someone who has chosen a very different path. I’m posting this here because I don’t know where else to turn, and it seemed similar to the discussion at hand, so I would appreciate any feedback.

    1. Unree
      Unree May 8, 2013 at 11:56 pm |

      I’ve had that problem too and sometimes found it helpful to say “That’s a label. It’s not my label. Let’s talk about something real, not play the name game.” Misogynists find the F word very convenient for the reason you say–express an opinion they don’t like, and bam, you’re imposing your F values on innocents around you. You can step away from the word without being disloyal to a cause or a movement.

      “But you are a feminist! Aren’t you?”

      “What if I said no?”

      “I wouldn’t believe you.”

      And that begins to sound absurd. You can respond, “Isn’t this silly? Can we talk about something real?”

      1. Victoria
        Victoria May 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm |

        You make an excellent point, though I’m not sure how to convince her that his behavior is a red flag when she has been socialized to believe that men *should* be in control. I mean, her family is very religious and they strictly adhere to that. I don’t think there was abuse in her home growing up, and I know she doesn’t believe that abuse is acceptable, but the trouble is, her views of gender roles are so ingrained and so far from any semblance of equality that she wouldn’t necessarily see red flags until it was too late, and I don’t know how to convey that to her.

  11. Sasa
    Sasa May 9, 2013 at 7:56 am |

    Wow, the comments over at salon are pretty horrible. The LW gets yelled at because she didn’t immediately save the dog (how exactly should she have gone about this, I ask?) and the LW’s friend is blamed for the dog abuse. Ugh.

    I also think Cary Tennis’s advice to “object” is bad and dangerous, certainly for LW’s friend but potentially also for LW herself. If it were as easy as “just tell everyone he’s an abuser”, well wouldn’t that be great. Except that it isn’t that easy.

    The LW has actually had two good ideas about what to do – call animal protection services and inform her friend’s mother – she should go with her own ideas and ignore everything Cary and the commenters said.

  12. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated May 9, 2013 at 8:22 am |

    Wedding, no, although it would be hilarious. This is an occasion for the girls-lunch-out, featuring a nice piece of stationery with the well-known signs of future abuse in a good font with appropriate check marks. Get several women in on the lunch, if possible. Let her know you care. Make sure that your phone numbers, the crisis center, and 911 are on her speed dial, and supply her with an app for the crisis center or any other services needed by abused women. It would be a serious mercy to begin looking for potential future dates for her, but it’s your choice whether to let her know that y’all will have her covered.

  13. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub May 9, 2013 at 8:30 am |

    First of all, if anyone you know is in a situation like this, The National Domestic Hotline is a good resource, even for frustrated bystanders. And they do have guidance on how to talk to someone and be supportive of someone who is in this situation. The LW, to her great credit, actually took their advice and used their guidance in talking to her friend.

    Taking Cary’s advice and announcing how the bride is, in your opinion, making a Very Bad Choice at the wedding is going to drive her closer to her abuser and encourage him to isolate her even further.

    What I would do if I were the LW is to call Animal Control, because that dog deserves better than to be beaten up. That’s beyond shitty. And I would talk to her mother (or someone the LW knows will be supportive and not shaming and engage in the “how could you LET him do that” bullshit), at least so that there was someone else who knew and who could possibly help if things got shitty quickly and the LW’s friend needed to get out fast.

    The LW’s friend is likely terrified and in denial. You get in the middle of that situation and it’s really difficult to think clearly. I wouldn’t be surprised if the BF hit the friend since the LW described him as forcing her to hug and kiss him and grabbing her wrists when she resisted.

  14. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated May 9, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  15. Natalia
    Natalia May 9, 2013 at 9:58 am |

    Stupendously bad advice by Cary Tennis.

    Speaking out at the wedding will give the abuser the *perfect* excuse to turn up the volume. Not only will he have an opportunity to drive a wedge between his victim and her friends, but he will be convinced that the victim has “betrayed” him, spoken about him behind his back, violated his trust, and so on.

    These guys pounce on any excuse to get rougher and meaner – been there, done that.

  16. gwyllion
    gwyllion May 9, 2013 at 10:19 am |

    beating a dog is not shitty – it is AGAINST THE LAW and must be reported – and yes beating a dog IS just as bad as hitting a child (or any other living thing) – sorry – i cannot tolerate speciesism

    1. yes
      yes May 10, 2013 at 8:58 pm |

      Could you explain your ideas relating to this in a little more detail?

      Not to me, here. Oh no. But in a mirror, maybe? Just five minutes?

  17. Katniss
    Katniss May 9, 2013 at 11:50 am |

    Cory Tennis is one of the worst advise columnists ever so I’m not surprised his advise is terrible. I hope the friend of the LW gets out of that situation, and quickly.

  18. Tim
    Tim May 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

    I was thinking of one other possible person to tell that nobody has mentioned, and that would be the pastor/officiator of the wedding. It would depend on who zie is and exactly what hir relationship is to the woman. If zie is her actual pastor and they are close, it might do some good (if for some reason the primary relationship is with the man, then probably not so much). I would think an officiator might have the moral/legal authority to say, “I’m not gonna do this,” and maybe the persuasive power to get the woman to change her mind.

    Definitely I agree that a dognapping intervention is in order.

    1. rain
      rain May 10, 2013 at 1:37 pm |

      Well, no one specifically mentioned a pastor, but there’s been several references to family, friends, neighbours, someone close to the woman. A pastor that is close to the woman would be someone close to the woman, no? I don’t see why we need to specifically call out a religious leader, as if they, as a group, are more capable than your average person in counselling about DV or have some attribute (“persuasive power”) or training which would make them the go-to person for DV, because they aren’t and they don’t.:

      Because of the writing I do on domestic violence, . . . I hear from a truly disheartening number of women who write in to relate their stories of pastors who, in one way or another, advised them to stick with their abusive husbands: to be more submissive, a better sex partner, to pray more, etc. . .

      6. Pastors simply aren’t trained about domestic violence. . . What do pastors know about domestic violence? They’re not taught about it in seminary; the subject never comes up at their conferences, retreats, or seminars.

      That sort of deference to authority and the attendant assumptions about a pastor’s or other leader’s moral rectitude has provided excellent cover for some pretty horrendous abuses.

  19. MH
    MH May 9, 2013 at 1:33 pm |

    Objecting at the wedding seems like the most useless and potentially dangerous of the options, especially the way Cary Tennis recommends (objecting publicly, then privately telling the couple you think the woman is in danger).

    The author of the letter indicated she has the ability to contact her friend’s family. I would strongly recommend starting there, and also making a call to authorities about the animal abuse.

    I am no expert in abusive relationships, but I imagine that humiliating this man in front of all of their guests on his wedding day by objecting, then whispering to him its because you think he’s dangerous will not accomplish anything good. The audience will not know why the objection occurred, but now the dangerous man will think his fiancee (who will probably become his wife minutes later) is “talking crap about him” (by which I actually mean telling the truth). If he’s as dangerous as the letter suggests, then this could be what sends him over the edge from pet beater to wife beater. In the meantime, the friend will remain 10 hours from her family (or off on some honeymoon) with no one to check on her or provide additional support. This sounds like a losing proposition on all levels.

    To whatever extent interventions work, I’d say get the family involved and organized – QUICK. Try to actually stop the wedding – not just make a spectacle. Probably the best way to do that is with a concerted effort before the ceremony even starts.

  20. LC
    LC May 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm |

    I’ve been cut off for even hinting that someone wasn’t the best news for a friend of mine. (And in another, she still sneaks occasional contact to me, despite him having forbade her talking to me anymore.)

    It’s a horrible, helpless feeling.

    I feel fully confident that Cary Tennis’s suggestion is utter crap, though.

  21. Alexandra
    Alexandra May 9, 2013 at 10:05 pm |

    I wonder, with the LW’s friend, whether in the days leading up to her wedding, she’s thinking, “This isn’t a good idea… but I can’t back down now, there’s been too much time and money and energy invested into this wedding, this relationship. Everyone would be so angry with me if I didn’t go through with it, I’d look like a fool… I just have to work harder, make it work, keep everyone from seeing the rough patches.” Trying to imagine other futures seems impossible: it’s just a big black blank space. But if the LW, and her friends and her friend’s mother, can show the woman in this abusive relationship that she has choices… one day she might choose to leave.

  22. sheriji
    sheriji May 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm |

    She should speak out immediately. At the wedding if that’s today, but otherwise sooner sooner sooner! What is she waiting for?

  23. Scissors
    Scissors May 12, 2013 at 4:43 am |

    Is she financially dependent on this guy? Or dependent on him for any other basic need like shelter, a job, health issues. If not then go ahead and expose him. Do it in a group. Maybe not at the actual wedding, that might hurt your friend more than it does him. But certainly get a group of concerned people together and advise, advise her to call it off with him present. Watch both of their reactions closely. Who willingly enters an abyss?

    If she still refuses tell her you will be there for her even if the marriage goes through and begins to fall apart. That guy sounds like really bad news, keeping quiet would be wrong. But the need for discretion is also important keeping in mind that your friend may be acting under duress.

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