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    • #53490

      Hello Ladies, I haven’t posted for a while but a situation has arisen where I would appreciate your thoughts.

      I would like to make it clear that I am not seeking advice on someone else’s behalf, but would appreciate some advice on how I can cope with a difficult situation, because I’m struggling to cope with my own feelings at the moment.

      A good friend of mine left a violent relationship. Only a short time afterwards she met another man and fell in love with him. The red flags were blatant, but she wouldn’t listen to me or our other friends – she was like a moth irresistibly drawn to a flame. She’s been with him for quite some time now, and for a long time there’s been a pattern: When she is with her abuser, she goes completely off the radar. She won’t contact anyone and won’t respond to texts, e-mails or phone calls. Every few weeks there is a crisis. Her abuser gets violent, so she leaves and goes to stay with other people and she contacts me for support. On the many, many occasions this has happened, I have bent over backwards to help her. I have rung the police/DV services/housing on her behalf (and at her request). I have advised her about what she needs to do to get an injunction, even offering to go to court with her. I have listened to her and counselled her.

      Then she suddenly goes off the radar and refuses to answer texts etc., and I know she has gone back to him. After a few weeks, the cycle starts all over again; there is a crisis and she contacts me for support.

      God forgive me because I have been in two abusive relationships myself, but I am at my wit’s end knowing how best to cope with this. I know it’s wrong but I’m starting to feel very annoyed and frustrated with her. Whenever she needs support I expend a lot of emotional energy helping, advising and counselling her, so when she suddenly goes silent I feel as if I have been left high and dry wondering what’s happening. I’m guessing that whenever she goes back to him, she goes off the radar because she may feel ashamed and embarrassed for going back and he may be monitoring her every move.

      I can’t help it, but I feel hurt and annoyed when she suddenly goes silent because I’ve expended so much energy giving her intensive support when she needs it. The last time there was very serious violence and the police and DV services were involved. She’s now off the radar again, but I know that it won’t be long before she contacts me again in another crisis. At the moment I am very, very concerned for her safety because I am concerned he will kill her.

      What’s happening is severely affecting my emotional wellbeing. I know how hard it is to leave an abuser because I’ve been there myself. Some people – including professionals – got impatient with me because I went back to my abuser several times before I left for good. I don’t want to lose patience with her because I know how hard it is, and yet I know I need to look after my own emotional wellbeing too.

      I am badly affected but I don’t know what to do for the best. Should I tell her that when she suddenly ‘goes off the radar’ and doesn’t answer my messages, emails or phone calls, it upsets and worries me? Should I ring the police and tell them how worried I am after the last episode? Should I tell her not to contact me but to contact the police and professionals instead?

      Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.
      Thanks Ladies x*x

    • #53494

      Hi Copperflame,

      I find that when I am feeling like this towards people, it means that I have stepped over my boundaries, or let them step over my boundaries, and that I need to take a step back. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about the person, but if their behaviour is affecting you like this then it’s important to take care of yourself. It is the same with friends or family who have addictions – you can help them but only so much, because in the end they have to help themselves. For each of us here, it was only when we realised we were being abused and deserved much better that we started down our recovery path, just like drug addicts in recovery.

      It sounds like your friend hasn’t hit ‘rock bottom’ to use a phrase the addiction recovery people use, she hasn’t yet got to that epiphany stage of ‘I deserve better’ and ‘no more.’ For me I literally heard the word ‘no’ in my head and felt this surge of power flow through me, like an inner guide. It was quite a supernatural feeling, hard to describe, but it was like my true self standing up for and protecting myself when my outer, doubtful, abused self was confused and didn’t know what to do.

      I would recommend you support her to the point that you start to feel uncomfortable and keep the focus on you and your own health and recovery. And hopefully in time your friend will reach the epipahy stage, at the moment she is still in the fog of abuse. I’m not sure about what to say to her, or about ringing the police, perhaps the others will have a good idea on that, it is tricky because police involvement could be dangerous for her before she has left him for good, but on the other hand if you observed a violent scene then I would report that, I suppose it depends on the situation? Go with your gut.

    • #53502

      Hi there, if you’re concerned I would ask the police to do a welfare check. The next time she surfaces and needs your help I would explain how you feel. That you want to be there to support her but you feel used and dropped and it’s not good for your mental health to worry about her. That if you hear or see violence you feel you need to report it to the police because you fear for her safety. I would be frustrated too but knowing how abuse works she will have to be ready herself. Is she in touch with women’s aid? Perhaps you could go along with her or do the freedom programme or give her the book Living with the Dominator by Pat Craven.

    • #53519

      Thank you for replying KIP and SunshineRainflower.

      I have come to realise that quite a few of my friendships are one-sided, in that I’m the one doing all the giving and providing the emotional support, but when I need some support nothing is forthcoming. I recently had some more specialist DV counselling and during these sessions my counsellor and I spent a lot of time discussing how I could be better at setting boundaries. Some time ago of my (now former) friends was emotionally abusing me, and with encouragement from my counsellor I decided to set a firm boundary and end the friendship.

      SunshineRainflower, I agree about addiction and hitting rock bottom, but as well as that abusive relationships are addictive in themselves and I think you have to be able to say “enough is enough” in your heart before you can leave and stay away for good.

      So, (detail removed by moderator) I have messaged my friend to say that it upsets me greatly when she goes off the radar and cuts contact with me, although I understand that she may feel embarrassed about going back to her partner again. I said I’ve done my best to support her through this difficult period, but what has been happening to her has been affecting me emotionally and when she then cuts contact, it leaves me feeling ‘high and dry’, dumped and used. I said I’ve been worried sick about her because of the escalating physical abuse, but because of my own fragile mental state I have to put my wellbeing first and feel unable to support her at the moment.

      For this reason, I’ve decided against ringing the police and asking them to do a welfare check because I feel it’s important to set some boundaries to protect myself and it also may endanger her. She’s engaged with professionals who can support her and can ring them on her behalf. She’s clearly not quite ready to leave him for good at the moment, so all I can do is hope that in the meantime she doesn’t come to serious harm. I’m not expecting a reply to my message.

      Thanks for listening, Copperflame x

    • #53555

      Hi Copperflame.

      I have a friend like this. She has gone from one relationship to another that has ended badly and is fraught with drama and mistreatment. When she suddenly looses contact, I know it’s because she has found another partner, or has gone back to the previous one. She drops her friends like hot potatoes.

      You can’t reason with her either. She is blinded by her passions for that person.

      I don’t think you’re being unkind in saying you are at your wits’ end. Apart from being entitled to be feeling annoyed at being intermittently ‘dropped’- which must make you feel used- I don’t think that you should ignore the fact that you yourself are a survivor. You yourself are still in recovery and can easily get triggered by things. You can enable people to continue in unhealthy patterns of behaviour by being at their beck and call and just agreeing with everything they say. You can be a good friend by signposting your friend to help, when she is ready to listen. But it’s important, as a survivor, to be a good friend to yourself and assert your own needs and boundaries. x

    • #53607

      Thank you Serenity. Sometimes I forget I’m a survivor too. Some of my friends are fellow survivors and a few have leaned very heavily on me for support and seem to forget that I have been though DV as well. And yes, sometimes I do get triggered and feel strong emotions such as anger and frustration.

      My friend is in a mess emotionally, but ultimately she’s an adult who is in touch with professionals. I’ve signposted her to where she can get help and she has engaged with that help, but at the same time she’s resistant to advice, either from me or from them.

      One of my weaknesses is that I tend to get emotionally dependent on my friends, and find it difficult when I’m providing all the support but get very little in return. As I said earlier, I’ve bent over backwards to support her, but because there’s a certain amount of emotional dependence on my part, it hurts so much when she stops communicating. Some time ago I was struggling with something and I messaged her, but she didn’t reply for weeks and then only briefly because she was busy!

      Thanks again xx

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