Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I know the statistics

It takes women, on average, six to eight times to leave an abusive relationship.

There's no comfort in that. Sure, it normalizes the situation a little. But normalizing doesn't get her the hell out of there.

I suppose it's easy for me to attribute the sense of helplessness crouching at the bottom of my stomach to the more than 3000 kilometres distance. Truthfully, though, I don't know how much more in control I'd feel even if I lived next door.

I'm just so fucking angry. Enraged. I don't know if I can ever manage to take a single breath in his presence again.

The funny thing is, I've worked with criminals before, and was often surprised by the ambiguity of the situations, the profound regret.

Yet I don't know if I ever can bring myself to see the shades of grey in a man who would touch her like that.

It was weird when I thought he was just awkward, insensitive and maybe a little old fashioned in his ideas about gender.
It was awkward when they would argue in my presence.
It was difficult when I began to realize how much of his seeming nuances were actually indirect ways of having control over her.
It was worse when I caught wind of the misogynistic things he would say when the door was closed, his rants about what a good wife should be, and what she was not.
It was frightening when she called me in tears because he was senseless in his anger, and she was scared he would lose control.

Before I left, she told me of how he would tower over her, inches from her face, screaming at her. Then she told me how he'd grabbed her. And shook her. We spoke about her leaving. How she could tell him, how she would manage in practical terms. She confronted him. He agreed things were bad. They negotiated the notion of a trial separation, discussing how they needed to do things differently in their relationship. Then his family came to visit, and they fell back into the husband and wife pretence.

We spoke yesterday. And things went bad. Really really really bad.

She left.

And then she came back.

It almost scares me how textbook the whole thing is. He says it was a wake-up call for him, that things will change. But two days later, he's already telling her to shut up again. I can tell by his tone of the voice in the background that nothing has changed. I'm so scared about what's going to happen next time. And I hate the fact that I'm so convinced there's going to be a next time.

If there's one spark of a blessing, it is the people that are there. They got her out this weekend, and I know they'll do it again, as does she. I'm talking to them, we're trying to figure out what we can do to keep her safe.

Even worse, though, is that one of her friends actually told her to stay. This woman, you see, used to be physically abused by her boyfriend, but in her eyes, they worked through it. So now she's put that impetus upon my friend to "work through it". And my friend has somehow used this one woman's self-centered advice to frame it as though there is debate amongst her friends about whether she should leave. If there's any leftover capacity for anger that isn't directed at him, it is clearly directed at this woman.

But I'm 3000 km away. My rage can't do a lot from here.

I'm trying to figure out what exactly I can do from here.


A Redhead Named Sam said...

I understand the powerlessness you're feeling over this situation. You want to help, but ultimately you know that *she* has to make that final decision to leave and stay gone. I hope she wakes up sooner rather than later and 'sees' what's going on. Once an abuser, always an abuser...the odds of him changing are, sadly, very very very slim.

I'm so sorry you're going through this...I'm glad that you've got some contacts in that area though - that has to be a small amount of relief for you.

RainbowEclipse said...

This may be a stupid question, but those abuse hotlines aren't only for the people being abused --- Have you ever called to see if they have any other suggestions for you to try and help her?

Just a thought... good luck.

Ashley said...

That is a really tough place to be. It's so hard to see your friend in a horrible situation like that who can't see that it's NOT supposed to be that way. That she needs to get out. Sadly, she needs to realize that on her own but I'm so glad she has friends near her to help her out.

I hope this ends sooner than later with her getting the hell out of there.

Mega said...

Sorry to see that she and everyone associated with her is going through this. Best thing to do for her now is lend your voice of support. People can tell her to leave, but she must ultimately be the one who leaves, wanting to do so. I hope she finds that strength, and soon.

Katelin said...

ugh that is just such an awful situation all around and i can't even begin to imagine how your friend or you or feeling especially only being able to do so much over the phone. hopefully the people that are with her will help her and she'll realize what is best.

Hilary Chaney said...

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Meghan said...

Reading your post I was surprised this sort of stuff still happens. Later in the day I had to call the police because the guy in the apartment upstairs was beating his girlfriend. She never pressed charges.

I hope your friend gets out of the situation.

Westcoastkid said...

everything that happens to us stems from us allowing it to happen.. the good the bad the happiness and the sad,its all because we let it. lack of preparedness and the experience and knowing of what will hurt and what wont is short coming. old people, young all have the ability to 'see' if you stick your hand in the fire .. yes you will get pain. if you continue to do so then you should really get some help. the main reason that women remain in these situations is mostly from lack of self confidence and the 'enforcer' continues to browbeat her to the point of her never knowing there IS another door. every situation in life has 2 doors..the one you came in and the one you will leave by. when you leave and IF you ever do hinges on how soon you learn that fire burns and about the other door. this is no remedy for leaving and its not the resolve for everyone's problems however, its a beginning. helping someone in this situation should be left to the professionals.. a little intervention .. delicate and discrete as it were would be all that one could apply here. delving into the problem isnt where anyone without the diploma should be. ask if they WANT help. suggest to them that this is effecting everyone around her and that she has a responsibility to her friends and family to make it stop.. suggest different ways / avenues of assistance.. and be supportive of her thoughts and ideas whether they are right or wrong.. defiance will be met with defiance. animosity isn't where this needs to be. but mostly.. be her friend.. not invasive or intrusive/ respectful and aware of her responses to all that is said.. just some thoughts for you..

Sid said...

Shit. I hope she leaves him soon. I hope she leaves him before anything bad happens to her.

I had a friend, I was still young, and one day she stopped coming to school. Later I heard that her mom had shot her dad while he was in the shower. She'd gotten tired of being shoved around. I hope that never happens to your friend.

Holly said...

Wow that's really awful! I agree with the person who suggested trying an abuse hotline and seeing if they have any advice for you.

K said...

It's such a traumatic situation for your friend and for the people close to her also experiencing her pain. I have been the victim in a similar situation and when my friends discovered the abuse, they basically phoned my parents and my older brothers (without me knowing) and let them know what was going on. They then came over and helped me pack up my belongings and find another place to live. I did stay in contact with him after this though. He would call and beg to meet me (which often I did)and continue to manipulate me. I couldn't change my mobile as I didn't want to upset him. CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS!!! Unfortunately it's because you have had your spirit broken you and are weak and scared. Anyway on and on the manipulation went. He would phone up to 30 times during the night and leave messages threatening me if I didn't answer or return his calls. I would leave it on silence but never switch it off. Although I never revealed where I had moved to and remained cautious, I continued to allow his destructive behaviour to affect me UNTIL..one day I just collapsed. On the Street. Bawling with snot coming out of my nose, unable to walk with my very tiny friend trying to hold me up. She said "enough is enough". Can't you see what has become of you. This is what he has done to you. Do you want to live the rest of your life like this? We MUST go to the police now and file a DVA against him and I promise he will never bother you again and you can live with me and get on with the rest of your life." And I did. I changed my number and moved towns and lived with my friends and never heard from him again. It's a really difficult situation but the best thing you can do is be there for her. Express your opinion to her but unfortunately, ultimately as confused and emotional as she would be, her decisions are up to her.

pupslinger said...

Start laughing at the loser every time he does or says anything to her. She sees him as powerful but if you'll show her what he and every other abusive male is (insecure, limp-wristed children) maybe she'll see how ridiculous it is that she's put up with him at all

Bullies do what they do because it makes them feel good about themselves. Take away the "prestige" of being scary and the bully is left naked and exposed for what he truly is.


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choochoo said...

This was a friend of mine, pretty much, many years ago. Thank god she got far, far away from him eventually. But, like you said, it took a long time. The bitch of it is that there isn't all that much you can do, as a friend, other than be there. You can't force her to do something, you can just try to make her realize that she's worth more and prop her up so that hopefully she'll have the strenght to leave someday.

eric1313 said...

Sorry to hear about what your friend is living through. Of course if anyone cares, it will be you.

Read this a few times but didn't know how to respond. You sound rather distressed, as though it were yourself you were writing about. I know it's not, but it has that kind of quality.

Take care and eat plenty of cheese over there on the other side of the lake!

deola said...

Can feel this in my bone.

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benjibopper said...

Hey PP,

Earlier today I was reading a story about unsolved murders of women in Canada. This situation is such a vicious cycle. I hope your friend has gotten out of it. So hard to be so far from a friend in trouble

I hope you are doing well, Princess. Take good care.

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Mrs. Pickle said...

My ex husband was abusive like that. I think the woman needs to just hit a rock bottom herself in order to have the strength to leave.

christine said...

hi. i miss you! catching up with the blogosphere and wonder if you still blog somewhere else in the universe?

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My Ruby Slippers. said...

I have been in your situation and I totally understand the powerlessness and the frustrations of wanting to help and feeling limited by circumstances. However, I've also learnt that even with our best intentions, some people prefer to fight their battles themselves, to find their own way. I hope for her sake, that wins this battle and finds her way, with or without your help. It is very noble of you to keep trying.

Operion M'Sia said...

Understand the powerless feel. But you must stay calm. The final decision still on "her" side. You been did your best..
Relax and chill up!

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