Sunday, April 12, 2009


I think someone I know is getting beaten by her husband.

This is not someone I know well, but we are acquaintances. I have seen her with extensive facial bruising three times now, and the second time was also accompanied by a broken wrist. It seems like every time she heals from the last set of bruises she as another "accident". The second one made me say "Hmmmm..", but this last one spurred me into asking someone else. Maybe I was just being paranoid.

So I asked someone who knows her better. All I had to say was "Hey, about Alanna (not her real name, obviously) ... do you think.." and before I could finish my sentence she said "Yes." We chatted a bit about it, and the more she told me the more I think we are right, although she has not had confirmation from Alanna.

So, why should I care? Two reasons. First, one of my very good friends in high school was beaten by her father often. I saw her come to school with bruises that she tried to hide. She was honest with me about where she got them, so it's not like it was a mystery for me. But I never did anything about it. In fact it never occurred to me to do anything. I just listened to her and tried to have fun with her. Which is probably a good thing because it would have almost certainly made her situation worse at home if I had said anything.

Reason number two is, of course, Blair. Many of us knew that her ex had been violent with her, and had a wicked temper. However, nobody did anything about it. But really, what could we have done? We all told her not to go to his house that night, and to meet him at the restaurant. She didn't and now she is gone. Could any one of us have done something to prevent that? Not that it would have helped anything, but I'm still kicking myself for not returning her call that night.

So, I have regrets about not taking action in the past. But what could I possibly do that could make this better? Involving anyone of authority could lead to pissing her husband off, and lord knows we don't want that. And I don't really know her well enough to be able to talk with her about this, which is really none of my business. But how am I going to feel if I do nothing, pretend not to see her bruises, and she ends up severely injured, or worse?

My stomach hurts.


OnTheBit said...

There are a lot of things you can do without calling the authorities. The first, and probably easiest is what you did with your friend in high school. You just listened when they need to talk. The hard thing about battered women is that their abusers are very good at what they do. They work in a circle fashion making the woman believe several key things such as that the woman is not good enough and can never do anything without her abuser, that they really are sorry after the abusive event happens, and that it will never happen again. If you can help your friend even change one of those key beliefs you have a shot. The hard thing about this is that if you try and help your friend and she does not want your help (or more accurately stated she is not ready for your help just yet) she will tell the abuser and they might get angry with you...which with 2 small girls at home is a very scary thought. Now one of the easiest things you can do is just approach your friend in a very careful manner and mention you have noticed she has had a lot of accidents, and that you noticed Blaire had a lot of accidents (if she doesn't know who she is I would suggest you fill her in). Don't come on to strong and whatever you do don't say anything along the lines of "I know you are getting hit at home". Just open the door so she can tell you. Then give her this number 1-800-799-SAFE That is the national domestic abuse hotline number. They are just a great resource to have because they can tell your friend of local supports in your area that she can take advantage of. If she seems open to that you can start to talk her gradually about some of the practical things such as having her start a bank account for an emergency if she needs to get away. You can help her open a P.O. Box so that no letters go to her home address so her abuser doesn't know about the fund. You can also help her find a safe place to go in an emergency. One of the first things an abuser does is isolate the victim. So be careful about spending too much time with your friend because he will get suspicious. I think for right now the best thing you can do is open a dialog so she can tell you what is going on. And this might take time, but it is better to let her come to you then for you to tell her you already know what is up. She might already be at rock bottom and want a way out. If so you can be a huge help. She might not be yet and if that is the case you need to be careful not to catch the wrath of her abuser. On average it takes a woman 4 times of leaving her abuser to do it for good. 4 TIMES! That means she might get the courage up to leave him and actually do it 3 times or more before it sticks. Just be patient and know going into this that right now your friend has been taught by her abuser that she deserves what she is getting. You and I know better, but she truly thinks that she is doing wrong things and it took a long time for her abuser to teach her that so it is going to take even longer to unlearn those bad and false messages.

wolfandterriers said...

Ugh, I was engaged to a seriously bad guy--he was extremely abusive to my dogs, and I was finally able to leave once I realized what was going on. It didn't seem to matter what was happening to me--only my dogs.

Hopefully, she will realize what is happening before it gets worse.

Sarah said...

I think you need to do something.

Maybe there's a way to be non-confrontational about it, like just sending her a little email or a note that says you're concerned and you'd be happy to help in any way you can.

Sure, it's awkward, and she may be angry, but you might be able to do some good.

It's a tough situation. Good for you for paying attention.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I used to work for a non-profit agency that counseled both domestic violence victims and offenders. See if there is any service like that in your area, talk to them, get a business card or write down their phone number and address, and give it to her. The problem with helping domestic violence victims is that they are so scared that they don't want to do anything out of fear that it will only make matters worse. The reality is that their lives are at stake every day, and the only way that can get worse is if they are murdered. She can get police protection if she wants to make her escape, and making that escape is her only chance toward a better life. Angry men don't get nicer, they only get more violent.

I know what you mean about regretting it when you don't do something. At least you can try to do something, but don't expect any appreciation. Chances are all you will meet is resistence. But you can still try.

Anonymous said...


You may hardly know this person
but I think you should at least take a minute and let her know that some cares. She may not have anyone to go to.

I expect that she will deny anything is wrong.

It may be awkward but at least
you will have tried.

It may make your belly better too.


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