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Updates & Follow-Ups: Helping an Abused Friend

Jan08

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Photo by naydeeyah
Amy –
Thank you so much for your help and advice a couple weeks ago. I am happy to report that my friend moved in with me for a couple of weeks before signing a lease with her sister, and moving in with her yesterday (her sister and I both agreed that having her sign a new lease would be best – as it would make her less likely to go back to him).
As of today, it has been 3 weeks since she last saw him, and has only communicated via email – to let him know she was moving out, details of the utilities and asking him to not be home when she came to pack (which I stayed with her during, and he never showed up).
I let her talk to me about everything, all her feelings, and like you said, reassured her that it was okay to be upset that her relationship was over, and admit that she still loved him, which I think allowed her to start the healing process.
Thanks again to your wonderful advice and support, and that of all the readers – I am so relieved that she was strong enough to leave right away, rather than this being a long, drawn out situation.
No longer as Concerned

Oh, sweet lands, I am SO glad to hear this. I usually wait until I have a small handful of updates before posting them, but I couldn’t wait to publish this very, very good news.
And can I add that I am like, uber-over-the-moon impressed with you and everything you did to help your friend — providing a safe place, going WITH her, back to the scene of an actual literal crime? Man, clearly you are one tough lady who shall not be messed with. And also the listening and validating romantic feelings that on the surface might not make a lot of sense to people who have never been in an abusive relationship. Just perfect, all around.
I do hope, in addition to the new apartment lease and relationship status, that your friend will consider seeing a therapist and/or joining a support group to continue the healing process. It’s wonderful that she has people like you and her sister, but at some point she should maybe start digging into how this all happened in the first place, why she allowed it to go on as long as it did, and how to recognize early warning signs in potential future boyfriends.
But. I am proud of her. I am proud of YOU.


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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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12 Responses to “Updates & Follow-Ups: Helping an Abused Friend”

  1. SB Jan 08 at 12:53 pm Reply Reply

    So happy for you both.
    Please be aware that women often make multiple efforts to leave an abusive partner. If this woman returns to her spouse, it’s important to keep supporting her as you’ve been doing.
    Often when someone helps a woman leave and she returns she attempts to end contact with the person who assisted her (for many reasons: shame that she didn’t stay separated, anger that the person interfered with her relationship, etc). This only isolates the woman further, making it harder for her to try again to leave her abuser. If your friend does return to the relationship, continue providing her support as best you can and stay positive.
    Hopefully her story with her abuser will end here with a happy ending. Unfortunately, for many women this situation cycles through multiple times before they’re able to fully end the abuse.

  2. Grammar Snob Jan 08 at 1:04 pm Reply Reply

    This made my whole day. What a wonderful new chapter in her life.

  3. Bethany Jan 08 at 1:37 pm Reply Reply

    Oh yay! I’m so happy about this. Thank you to the writer for sharing with Amalah and thank you to Amalah for posting it. Still sending lots of prayers and good vibes out toward your friend. She’s so lucky to have you guys.

  4. College At Thirty Jan 08 at 1:55 pm Reply Reply

    Hooray! This is the best news I’ve heard all year, and I doubt anything will top this! This news dances on the grave of 2009, and is a promise of good things to come for the LW and her friend!

  5. Jennifer B Jan 08 at 2:00 pm Reply Reply

    Everyone should be lucky enough to have a friend like this one.

  6. caleal Jan 08 at 2:26 pm Reply Reply

    Depending where you’re located, it’s worth it to look into DV shelters/nonprofits in the area. They often offer free individual/group counseling for survivors.

  7. Suzy Q Jan 08 at 4:14 pm Reply Reply

    This is WONDERFUL news! I second Amalah’s praise for your being such a great friend. I wish someone had done this for me when I was in the same situation.

  8. Muirnait Jan 08 at 4:33 pm Reply Reply

    Oh I am so, so very glad to hear this! Congratulations to her for taking such a scary step and to you for being such a good friend!

  9. Julie Jan 08 at 10:06 pm Reply Reply

    Wonderful news! She is lucky to have a friend like you. I will be sending strong vibes her way in hopes that she continues on this new path and is happy and healthy and well.

  10. Willa Jan 09 at 8:17 pm Reply Reply

    Listen. I may get jumped on for this but I would like to say… Please be very, very careful about the difference between compassion and pity. Both in your original question and in your update here there is a level of condescension that gets my back up. You and her sister decided signing a lease “would be best?” You “let” her talk to you about her feelings? You’re “relieved” that she was strong enough, presumably to do what you told her. Not proud or impressed or awed, but relieved. And in your original question you even say you saw it coming. Which, you know, maybe you did.
    I’m just struck by the tone here. Compassion is caring by understanding it could be you in the situation. Pity is caring tinged with superiority because it could never happen to you. And while, of course, I’m glad you’re willing to help your friend, I wonder if, by taking the reins and making her make this change, you aren’t undermining what good you intend.
    My ex-husband beat the crap out of me. And one of the saddest, hardest parts about that experience, that still gets to me, is that some of my closest female friends made me feel so ashamed and guilty about it. How could I let this happen? Wasn’t I smart enough, strong enough, brave enough to stop it? And then, if not, I must be totally incapable of doing anything at all. Instead of reminding me of my strengths and encouraging me to get back in touch with my own will and power, they treated me like a child. They treated me not with respect and compassion, but with pity. And that was almost as damaging to my self-esteem as getting hit.
    And I know there was love there. I’m sure you love your friend. And, of course, it’s good that you feel good about helping her. But please, please, don’t make her feel like you think you’re better than her. Don’t pity her. Love her and respect her and be glad to have her safe and sound.
    I wish you all the best of luck. It’s hard. And that sucks.

  11. Concerned Jan 12 at 9:10 am Reply Reply

    To everyone out there – thanks again for your thoughts and caring and support. It really helped me, which in turned, allowed me to better help my friend.
    As for Willa – I will come out and say that there is absolutely no pity in my feelings towards my friend. I was/am genuinely concerned, and even though you feel that the elements of my writing read as pity, that is your misinterpretation. I understand that you come from a background of physical abuse, and I very much hate that it happened to you – but please do not assume that I do not think or realize that it could happen to anyone, including me, or that I think I’m better than she is – I’m not. She is one of the most amazing, gifted, loving people I’ve ever met, and I cherish her as a friend for those exact reasons. (I’ve been a victim of verbal/emotional abuse in the past – while not the same, still traumatizing in ways that it effects my current relationships.)
    Anywho, I am thankful and impressed and proud of my friend’s strength. And I’m sorry that you misinterpreted my writing as any sort of condescension – I can assure you that there is none there.

  12. I’m glad things worked out. There is strength in being at peace with yourself.
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