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Author Topic: I have a friend in an emotionally abusive relationship.
GodivaSyndrome
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I have known this girl for about 3 years now (lets call her K) and her boyfriend for about 2 (let's call him J). They have been dating for a year and half and while they had their fights, things seemed to be going well and they looked like a they were a great couple.

Well, I got a call from her this morning. She has been studying in Germany for the past 4 months and I hadn't really heard from her since she left (she is coming back in a few days). She was crying saying that she had no one else to turn to.

She told me that ever since she left to Germany, J has completely changed. He blamed her for "abandoning" him and they have spent these past months in a constant cycle of fighting and him apologizing and then fighting more. She says he sits there a yells unrelentingly at her on the phone or through webcam for hours while she just cries. He is angry at her for leaving, angry at her for being more successful, and even angry at her for sending him gifts to "make him feel guilty". She is afraid of going places in Germany because she doesn't want to arouse his suspicions and give him another reason to scream at her. She says she feels completely isolated and just can't believe all this has been happening. She says she just wants the J she knew back.

I was shocked. I had no idea all this was going on. They seemed like such an amazing couple and to hear that he has been hurting her like this is just ... unreal. I told her this was extremely unhealthy and she should try to get out. She says it's not that easy; she loves him and his family, they have the same friends, most of whom would side with him, and she can't imagine her life without him at this point. I understand this, having been a situation similar to this once before, but I'm very worried about her emotional well-being and I want to be there for her and able to help her, but I'm not sure how to get her to a place where she can free herself from him. I know she is a strong person, but she can't deal with this for much longer and we both know it. How can I help her help herself? [Frown]

[ 04-24-2009, 06:11 PM: Message edited by: GodivaSyndrome ]

Posts: 21 | From: Oakdale | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
September
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Godiva, I'm sorry your post has been sitting for so long.

Is your friend still in Germany? If so, is she at a University in Germany? Universities tend to have great support systems for students, especially for international exchange students. I know that it can be hard to ask for help, especially if you're around people you don't know very well. But it sounds like your friend is really unhappy and isolated, reaching out would definitely be a good idea.

Her best bet would be to contact the services for incoming exchange students. They usually have a student-run group that welcomes internationals and helps them get settled, and they're available for help throughout the exchange. Most of those students will have been on exchanges themselves and they'll know about the toll that distance can take on relationships and friendships.

Beyond passing these suggestions on to her, there isn't much you can do, save what you've been doing already: being a good friend, listening to her, and supporting her. Recognizing a relationship as unhealthy, and getting out of it, is immensely difficult, and it can take a while. So if you want to help her, just being there is the most important part.

You might, if you want to, also link her to our abusive partner checklist. It sounds like your friend's boyfriend is manipulating her and trying to control her, which is definitely abusive behaviour. It can be hard to see those signs for what they are if we're right in the middle of it, so reading about it might help her to get a different point of view.
http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/ultimatebb.php?/ubb/get_topic/f/37/t/000003.html

If you have any other questions, feel free to come back and ask! Your friend is lucky to have you looking out for her.

[ 04-28-2009, 06:04 AM: Message edited by: September ]

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Johanna
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

Posts: 9181 | From: Cologne, Germany | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
GodivaSyndrome
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She just got back from Germany and is on summer break. She normally goes to UC Berkeley here in California. The thing is, she doesn't really know many people in Berkeley and while I will be moving to San Francisco soon, I really don't feel like I'm enough of a support system even if I am there. [Frown]

The worst part is, he is being "nice" to her again, she is accepting it, and I know the cycle will continue. Is there anything I could do for her when he goes off on her again? Any place I can connect her to that might be able to help? I don't mean to be harsh or pushy and I don't want to alienate her by any means, but I now that I know this has been happening, I just don't trust him and I'm worried because of how much pressure I know she is under that do well in her life and studies and the pressure of trying to keep him happy and from blowing up (which is not her responsibility, it's his, but I'm not sure if she sees it that way). He is already angry with her for another intern opportunity out of state that she wants to take.

Posts: 21 | From: Oakdale | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
September
Scarleteen Volunteer
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What you can do for your friend in this situation depends a lot on what your friend needs from you. Meaning, if she's on the fence about her relationship and recognizes that her partner's behaviour is emotionally abusive, you can talk to her about leaving the relationship and help her find ways to do that. But if she's not in a place yet where she's considering ending her relationship, all you can do is support her and be there for her.

If she's feeling lonely and isolated at college, you can suggest to her that she join a club on campus or find some other way to participate in the community. There are so many ways to casually meet people, especially on a university campus.

If she's feeling under a lot of pressure, it may also help her to take advantage of her school's counseling services.

One thing I think that you can definitely do in this is to encourage her to realize that internship opportunity. She sounds like a very driven, ambitious young woman and it'd be a shame for her to pass up on opportunities because her boyfriend can't deal.

And lastly, if she is open to talking about her relationship, you can always refer to us: sometimes a more neutral setting and an outsider's point of view can really help in getting some perspective.

--------------------
Johanna
Scarleteen Volunteer

"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

Posts: 9181 | From: Cologne, Germany | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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