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How to help an emotional abuse victim?

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posted on Apr, 30 2009 @ 12:04 AM
Hi all,

I have a friend, she's in her 40's and has been married for 27 years.

The problem is that her husband is emotionally abusive. He's controlling, disrespects her in front of the kids, degrading, etc... He has been physically abusive in the past, but she claims he hasn't hit her in years (I don't necessarily buy that).

I've tried to be supportive, we've had long conversations about emotional abuse, I've got her considering therapy, gotten her to read books on the subject and tried to be a friend to her.

Today she told me that many years ago she was at a tupperware party and had a little too much to drink. Her husband was not pleased with this and came to get her (the party was at a neighbors). He dragged her home by her hair...

I was furious at this. I don't care how long ago it was, it's messed up and it angers me. Honestly this man is lucky I'm disabled 'cause otherwise he'd be in the hospital with very severe injuries right now.

The worst part of the story is that she laughs it off as not a big deal at all, she's not angry and all that B.S.
When I expressed my anger at his actions she got mad at me, told me how he was not wrong, he really loves her blah blah blah, and ended it with how she shouldn't have told me.

Why is she suddenly pulling back? How do I help her see that he is harming her and that it's wrong? I can't just sit back and pretend he's Prince Charming like she does.


posted on Apr, 30 2009 @ 12:41 AM
The following is my opinion as a member participating in this discussion.

I am always shocked and saddened to hear that emotional AND physical abuse is occurring. I am shocked because over the past number of decades, there has been a great deal of effort that has gone into making people aware about this problem and towards helping people end or to escape such abuse. I am saddened because it is obvious that there is still much work to be done in this area and because people are in genuine emotional and physical pain.

Your friend needs help! She needs help now! You mention that your friend laughs the problem away. This is very typical of an abuse victim to minimize or to dismiss abuse -- especially emotional or psychological abuse. Often, this happens because the victim believes that such abuse is an isolated case (ironically enough.... these isolated cases take place time and time again). The victims often come to believe that they are deserving of such abuse. They come to believe that they are actually to blame!

Tell your friend to seek professional help immediately. You have clearly stated that your friend has already been the victim of physical abuse ... and that she is frequently the brunt of emotional and verbal abuse. For her sake and for the sake of her children, she must seek help! As a friend, I would encourage you to suggest and enable your friend to receive the professional guidance she so desperately requires. Unfortunately, without assistance, it is sadly and all too common for the women to remain these abusive relationships until something tragic occurs either to them or to their children.

Again.... please encourage your friend to seek help.

As an ATS Staff Member, I will not moderate in threads such as this where I have participated as a member.

posted on Apr, 30 2009 @ 12:51 AM
reply to post by benevolent tyrant

Thanks for your advice, it's definitely something I will do!

Unfortunately she has been led to believe (surprisingly not by her husband) that therapists don't do anything but mess you up further.
I'm thinking that I may go to therapy first (and honestly, I could use it; her situation is tearing me up inside) so she can see that it has benefit and does not cause harm. Lets hope it works!

posted on Apr, 30 2009 @ 07:36 AM
reply to post by NoArmsJames
You obviously care deeply for your friend and it is obviously breaking your heart.
I think she is just stuck in one deep nasty rut. Maybe she lacks the will and confidence to leave him and change her life. None of it is easy.
Some people just think that settling for the familiar, however unpleasant, is the easiest option.
You need to give her that impetus, that confidence, that a better life is waiting out there for her.
Take it one step at a time. She's got to be brave and somehow face up to her reality. Once this happens I'm sure happy times are around the corner.

posted on Apr, 30 2009 @ 03:50 PM
Great to see that you are such a good friend, NoArmsJames.

And there is another aspect of this kind of domestic abuse that is important to remember: Parents are role models for their children. Since your friend has been married so long, I assume she does not have small kids anymore, but still...

A father is the first role model a little boy has. An abusive husband will teach his son that it is OK, in fact it is perfectly normal behaviour to abuse and humiliate a woman... Many boys with such fathers grow up to abuse women themselves. They will also expect the women to tolerate it, just like their mother tolerated it.

A little girl who grows up watching her father abuse the mother, learns the same lesson. Men are supposed to be emotinally cruel or/and physically violent. It's normal. Women are supposed to take it. This girl is at great risk of ending up in an abusive relationship herself...

So even if your friend has grown up kids, perhaps you can appeal to the mother in her. Tell her that she can still set an excample for her children. She can leave her abusive husband and show them that his behaviour is unacceptable. That it is NOT normal!

I wish you luck in your attempt to help your friend, NoArmsJames. At least your friend is lucky to have someone like you in her life. You are a good guy.

posted on Apr, 30 2009 @ 04:08 PM
reply to post by ziggystar60

Actually I think "appealing to the mother" might be the most productive approach as it would make her more objective and she'd have to see situation for what it truly is.

Abusers also like to sabotage their victim's independence and isolate them so helping her to recover a social network is extremily important. The whole tupperware incident would have had nothing to do with her drinking.. that was just a convenient reason for him to make a huge scene so she could never go back and face those people. What a bastard. :bash:

[edit on 30-4-2009 by riley]

posted on May, 1 2009 @ 10:12 PM

Originally posted by rileyAbusers also like to sabotage their victim's independence and isolate them so helping her to recover a social network is extremily important.

I started working on this today. We were talking and she was telling me what a good friend I am to her. I said thanks but told her she needs to make other friends too (I'm her only one). I was telling her that no matter how close we are there are certain things I can never relate to her with; like being a mother, etc...
She was saying how she doesn't really know how to make friends anymore, where to meet them etc... I brought up her love of reading and suggested a book club, which she liked a lot. So we'll start working on that soon. She's having surgery soon so we'll have to wait a bit but that's okay.
My secret hope is she'll meet a similarly aged woman (or women) who's in a healthy relationship so she can start to see that most men don't act like her husband, and that's not how men are supposed to act.

I haven't brought up the kids yet, I need to wait for another opportunity where we are discussing her husbands behavior.

posted on May, 2 2009 @ 07:25 PM
My advice is to go through the self-esteem angle.

From reading the bare bones of the story, it looks to be that she is in a co-dependent relationship with her husband. She may be staying with him because despite the abusive side of his personality, he may be fundamentally reassuring her, of her own self-assesment of herself.

Not only that, but she may have a deep-seated need-to-be-needed going on, in which case if he is dependent upon her for organising the house, raising the kids, doing his housework, etc - he is in fact answering that need in her, making her feel "loved". He needs her, and her alone, which in turn makes her feel special. It may seem illogical, but when you are talking emotions it's all one big grey area.

You want to find a way to have the conversation about how she perceives herself to be. Whether she feels she 'deserves' any abuse he dishes out - and why she feels that way. Use scenarios involving her children, if she has a daughter ask her how she would feel to know that her daughter was dragged home by her hair by a boyfriend? Is that really what she wants for her daughter? You might want to edge around the topic of her childhood. Did she come from an abusive background? Does she perceive abuse to be the norm in life? Basically, what is her social conditioning on this issue? Does it honestly confuse her that you would have such an emotional reaction to her husbands mistreatment of her?

posted on May, 3 2009 @ 02:21 PM
Don't push her too hard its harder to cope with when someone forces you to talk about it when your not ready.

I been through some similar stuff myself have only just started telling my boyfriend things about it now. If you ask only the necessary and don't force it then you'll probably find she start telling you things herself.

As for therapists sometimes they aren't the best answer i personally wouldn't want to tell some complete stranger about my ordeal.

posted on May, 6 2009 @ 02:57 PM

Why is she suddenly pulling back? How do I help her see that he is harming her and that it's wrong? I can't just sit back and pretend he's Prince Charming like she does.

Without being separated from him, and after 27's highly unlikely she'll come to this matter how many times it's repeated to her...

posted on May, 9 2009 @ 01:28 AM
Try not to judge her. Be patient...She has been married a long time, and probably, like me, went from her parents home to his without ever being on her own. That is a scary thought when you have never experienced it. You get comfortable to a degree and you fear the unknown. All of the what ifs...what if I can't support myself, what if I can't find anywhere to live..what if my kids hate me...crazy as this may sound to some of you, she probably doesn't want to hurt him. After a while to cease to cry and you cease to let the words bother you but at the same time there is a numbness in your develope a hardness...anyway I am sound like a great friend and she is lucky to have you. Be there for her as you have been, talking to a friend helps her I am sure!

posted on May, 9 2009 @ 03:44 AM
to cure emotional abuse i would advise using physical abuse.

is that bad to say? i forget i think we can answer like that.

but hey its worth a shot!

kind of like if you have a headache if you go stub your toe the headache becomes the last thing on your mind ya know.

that cold statement does have truth in it though. Alot of people with severe emotional disorders manifest their symptoms physically through self mutilation. Its not a positive outlet but merely what seems or feels right to the subject. Perhaps the stimulation of the physical pain receptors in the brain somehow gives the subject a feeling of validation of the emotional pain they carry.

interesting i smell a thesis coming on!
and i was thinking of tackling psychology next, since i dont believe in all that voodoo.

posted on May, 9 2009 @ 06:28 AM

Originally posted by tigpoppa
to cure emotional abuse i would advise using physical abuse.

I would love to tell you what I shouted out once I read this, but I do not think it would be productive in this discussion, so I am moving on with the topic at hand.

It is a shame that still there is abuse being served in today's world, but it is not uncommon.

I am only young but I have seen people generally older ladies sometimes even older men being abused emotionally by their spouses.

In my opinion, no matter what one may say to her, she will not do anything to help herself.
I believe the only way a true victim can get out of an abusive situation is by standing up to the abuser, make the abuser know that they no longer have any control over them. And unfortunatly this may take years or it may never happen.

In most cases the abuser belittles the victim in front of people, make the person feel like everyone hates them/dislikes them even family, talks behind their backs.. making the victim think everyone is being false, and the abuser is the one true person who loves/likes them.

This is a case where it is hard for a friend or loved one from the outside to see. You know what she should do but she will never listen.

The only thing I would suggest is for you to tell her you do care for her, and will always be there for her no matter what happens. Unfortunately this in a case of being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I hope that all works out for the best, and know that you are a person who I respect and would value as a friend.


posted on May, 9 2009 @ 01:38 PM
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can say that will make her magically see that she is being emotionally abused (and physically, if your description of being dragged home by her hair is accurate). That is a realization she will need to come to on her own and usually, the only way that happens is to hit rock bottom.

Or you can hold an intervention with the support of her family, but there is the possibility that that will be the end of your friendship. It's a tough position to be in. Maybe you could phone one of those crisis lines and ask them for advice?

posted on May, 10 2009 @ 11:39 AM

Originally posted by Oni x x

Originally posted by tigpoppa
to cure emotional abuse i would advise using physical abuse.

I would love to tell you what I shouted out once I read this, but I do not think it would be productive in this discussion, so I am moving on with the topic at hand.


Continuing on...
There has been soooo much good advice already given. I will add...

Ask her where she sees herself 20 years from now...still miserably putting up with abuse? HE won't change! SHE is the one who has to break the cycle of violence (total disrespect) by getting out of the abusive relationship.

She may be afraid of not knowing how to support herself, especially if she has never worked outside the home. Does he control the finances?
She needs to formulate a plan (and keep it to herself or share it with a trusted friend, like you), to support herself, to gain control over her share of the finances.

Is there a Womens Shelter where she could go when she decides it's time to leave? (So far, the only decision she has made is the decision to STAY with her abuser, so deciding to leave is monumental for her.) Or will she be able to arrange ahead of time for a place to stay?

She needs to understand how to obtain a restraining order, if necessary.
She needs to be able to buy a can of pepper spray and be prepared to use it on him (whether she actually does or not).

People stay in relationships because they get something out of them. Until she decides she no longer needs to put up with abuse, there is nothing you can do for her but enjoy her company as a friend.

Her self-esteem has been damaged. She will not have the self-respect and dignity she deserves by living with this partner.

I assume her children are grown/can take care of themselves, or remain with their father for support. She must understand that they think this abusive relationship is normal. If for anything, she needs to end this abusive relationship as the ultimate service to her children, to show them that a life of abusive is not normal. Her children may question her leaving at first, but she needs to remain strong and continue her life as an example of a normal life.

She has been made to feel powerless by her abuser. It is not a marriage but a prison sentence, or worse, being held captive (as a pow, a kidnap victim, etc.). Sometimes there is even the Stockholm Syndrome.

One last thing...the person who really feels powerless is her ABUSER. When she leaves, he will no longer have a victim. He will do all he can to persuade her to return, so he can demonstrate to himself how "powerful" he is. He may sweet talk her, send her flowers, with a loving voice promise how he'll never be abusive again blah blah blah. Her ears need to deafen to these pleas.

posted on May, 10 2009 @ 11:58 PM
geez thanks for reading the rest of my post there einsteins

i read all of yours that went on and on about humanity and social change and evolution, yadda, yadda, yadda

at least read my entire post!
i went on about the roots of that emotional stress and manifestation of it physically. ergo to relieve emotional stress use physical stress. Emotional is merely a construct of the human mind and not something physical ie tangible! therefore replacing it with a reinforcement of the real world negates the fantasy element.

if i was a doctor in a mental institution i would def test that on patients with some type of skin removal. however im going md not lamo phd so guess i cant,but who knows maybe i can in a clinical study. we can dream cant we?

posted on May, 11 2009 @ 06:35 PM
Have you told your friend how YOU feel? If she is not able to talk to anyone else about what she is experiencing, is she off-loading it all onto you? Would she be aware of this if she were? You seem so very concerned and I just think that maybe she might welcome the opportunity to be so good a friend as you, to you! And to herself.

Is drink involved in the abuse? If so, and he is abusing alcohol, or has a dependency on it, she may be in the role of co-dependent and might find an alcohol support group might a less threatening route to her rebuilding her self esteem than direct counselling.

Buy her a gift! There is a book, 'Women Who Love Too Much', (can't remember who wrote it) that gives lots of examples of why some women choose to stay with abusive men and advice on coping strategies and ways to rebuild self esteem.

Good luck! And don't forget to be a good friend to yourself!

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