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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Can emotionally abusive friend not be abusive?

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Author Topic: Can emotionally abusive friend not be abusive?
moon_goddess
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I had a fairly traumatic experience a few years back when my closest friendship at the time exploded and died.

Since then, I have come to realize some elements of it definitely fell under the definition of abusive relationship, including interfering in my other relationships with people and making me feel like I was the only one who could help this person. I think I'm mostly over it and I've moved on (after a lot of anxiety from not being able to avoid this individual completely due to academic reasons), but one part of me is still uncomfortable.

This person (Person 1) started becoming friends with a good friend of mine (Person 2), and they started dating and became really serious a few years ago. They are still together and living together now. My friend has always seemed really happy about dating this person, and we have occasionally talked about the difficulties between me and Person 1, which unfortunately even a few years later has all but ended our friendship (Person 2's and mine). Person 1 apparently does not feel very comfortable around me, either, but based on our interactions, seemed to be less affected by the ending of our friendship.

I still have vague Person 1-is-a-good-person-but-I-don't-want-to-ever-spend-time-with-them feelings. Is this normal? We were best friends and completely inseparable for a few months.

Also, there is a lot of information here about abusive relationships and how abusers don't tend to change their behavior. I remain sort of concerned for my friend (Person 2) and wonder what makes people change their behavior. Should I still be worried? On one hand, I really don't want Person 2 to be in an unhealthy relationship. On the other hand, it feels really shitty to know that there was something special about me that was the reason for the abuse and that makes me angry.

So I'm wondering if emotional abuse is something that someone can just sort of outgrow without being really deliberate about it, or if you can sort of accidentally emotionally abuse someone.

Posts: 46 | From: Northern Hemisphere | Registered: Feb 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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People don't tend to "outgrow" being abusive. Primarily because it tends to be learned behaviour, and to unlearn it generally has to be something intentional. People who do change from being abusive to behaving in healthy ways, when they do, almost always do because they have done a lot of work, with a good deal of help, to change.

Is it unusual to not want to be around someone who did you harm? Nope. That's how most people will feel most of the time.

I can't say what you should or shouldn't be concerned about, but I'd certainly be concerned about you getting yourself too involved here. In other words, putting yourself in the position to possibly police someone who was abusive to you after you have gotten distance from them isn't at all likely healthy for you, you know?

This person you're friends with who is with this other person now knows your history with this person, obviously. And I'm guessing they also know if this other person ever was abusive, they could come to you and you'd believe them. I'd say that aside from stepping in if and when you do ever witness any abuse, that's really not just all you really can do anyway, it's probably all you should do for your own well-being.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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moon_goddess
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Thanks, Heather.

I think it's finally time to let the last pieces of my past friendship with this person go. Just writing this was really cathartic in that regard.

Posts: 46 | From: Northern Hemisphere | Registered: Feb 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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I bet.

And I hear you: it's really tough to have a friend involved with someone you know is dysfunctional or abusive. A lot of us have been there, and it always stinks in so many ways. [Frown]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 67076 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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