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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » LGBTQA Relationships » Witness to abusive same sex relationship

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Author Topic: Witness to abusive same sex relationship
Brassgirl
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I'm not sure if this is in the right place or not, but it's something I'm struggling with at the moment, and I hope you guys can give me some insight.

I'm very close friends with a same-sex couple (they're both women). I'm good friends with both partners. Their relationship has been on the unhealthy side for a while - one partner is consistently cheating, the other is super clingy and controlling.

It all came to a head last night - my friend (the clingy one) called me in a panic and told me that her girlfriend (the cheating one) had flipped out, hit her, grabbed her by the neck, and tried to throw her down the stairs before leaving the house screaming.

According to my friend, this isn't the first time she's been hit, and their relationship has been physically/emotionally abusive for two years.

My friend has decided the relationship is over, and is seeking counseling. My question is, what the heck do I say to my friend who is apparently an abuser? I just, don't know what I should do. Do I write her off? Do I just stay out of it? I'm just not sure how I should handle it since I am good friends with both parties.

Thanks for your help :-)

Posts: 41 | From: East Coast, USA | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hey brassgirl,

Wow that relationship sounds bad. I'm glad to hear that it's over and no-one is at risk of being thrown down stairs any more! I imagine it really helped that your friend has had you to talk to about the relationship. You must be someone she felt she could trust and I'm so happy she had you.

Now, with the other partner, I'd agree that her behaviour sounds very abusive. Regarding what to say to her, whether to continue your friendship with her I think that's a difficult question to answer for you. What is for sure is that understandably you feel very different about her than you did before.

Just like sexual relationships, friendships, I feel, are relationships too where consent, enthusiasm and enjoyment should all be present.

So I don't feel like you have have any responsibility to continue this friendship if you no longer feel comfortable with it.

You might feel like you can, and want to, support them while they address and seek help with their aggression, then that too is something else which is completely up to you if it's something you want to offer.

Or perhaps simply keeping a distance will be the only thing you really feel comfortable with.

I could say I've had people in my life that I've found out to be abusive and I haven't really felt comfortable with dealing with them one way or another and have simply kept my distance since, we might be on friendly terms but I'm not interested in spending significant time together.

What would you prefer to do, as it sounds like you're feeling a good deal of pressure?

[ 05-05-2013, 02:38 AM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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Brassgirl
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Hey - thanks so much for the reply!

So I've had a chance now to talk to both parties. Boy, it's a mess of a situation. There are two sides to every story, and there certainly are two sides to this one as well.

It sounds to me like the abuse was mutual. Though the one partner got physical, their relationship is/was very unhealthy, with both partners contributing roughly evenly. Nothing will ever excuse Partner A becoming physical with Partner B, but Partner B has been very controlling - to an extreme level. (Partner B would often not let partner A go anywhere alone, not even to school. Now that they've split, partner B has been telling Partner A's teachers that she's mentally unstable).

They are both my friends, and I would like them both to be happy and healthy. At this point, I would really kind of like to take a step back from both of them- I've just gone through some major relationship turmoil myself. How do I take a step back without it seeming like I've turned my back?

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Molias
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Wow, that does sound like a really unpleasant and mutually unhealthy situation. Certainly it sounds like both partners have been engaging in abusive behavior.

I think you're totally ok in stepping back from either or both friendships for a while. It's up to you how to handle that, whether you want to say something directly or just fade out contact. If these are people you interact with mostly through school, I assume your summer break is coming up soon, and that could be a pretty natural way to take some space from both of them.

I think Jacob makes a good point about potentially supporting your friends in finding resources to deal with their abusive behavior, if that feels like something you are willing and able to do, but that doesn't have to go hand-in-hand with continuing your earlier pattern of friendship.

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Brassgirl
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I have helped one of them (B) find resources. The other (A) was very defensive about that, and thought I was trying to get them to go to therapy together. I wasn't- it's none of my business what they decide to do. I just want them both to be happy/healthy, which is what I said to them both.

Partner B came over today to talk and asked if she could keep her cash/valuables in my apartment. I said no. Tomorrow is the last day all three of us will be in school together. Hopefully everything will be fine, and I think I will let things cool off over the summer.

It's just really stressful the way they throw me in the middle - but I guess that's a hallmark of unhealthy patterns that they both follow. Thanks for listening and for your advice! I really appreciate it, and I hope it all blows over/partner B stops leaning on me so hard.

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Robin Lee
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Yay. Glad to hear you were able to set boundaries with partner B like that. [Smile]

--------------------
Robin

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Brassgirl
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Thanks. She clearly has boundary issues, which I think might be one of the roots of her and A's problems (not that I'm blaming any one person - not my intent - it takes two to tango).

It's just rough because when B talked to A, she made it sound like I had tried to get A committed, or told a bunch of people that I had called A crazy. (Totally not what happened. I helped B google crisis centers and counselors for herself because she asked me to). Fortunately, A called me and was like "What the hell?!" and listened to me when I told her what actually happened.

Maybe they are both playing me, but honestly, I want no part until they get themselves under control. I feel bad that I was pretty distant with B yesterday, but it's a self preservation thing.

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Molias
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I think it can be really good to keep that self-preservation instinct active when dealing with difficult or drama-instigating people, even if they're folks you care about. Yay for setting and enforcing boundaries. =)
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