Questions and discussion about sexual or other abuse or assault, and support and help for survivors.
This area of the boards is expressly for support and help for those who are currently in or have survived abuse or assault. It is also for those seeking information or discussion about abuse or assault. Please make every effort in this space to be supportive and sensitive. Posts in this area may or do describe abuse or assault explicitly.
This area of the boards is also not an area where those who are themselves abusing anyone or who have abused or assaulted someone may post about doing that or seek support. We are not qualified to provide that kind of help, and that also would make a space like this feel profoundly unsafe for those who are being or who have been abused. If you have both been abused and are abusing, we can only discuss harm done to you: we cannot discuss you yourself doing harm to others. If you are someone engaging in abuse who would like help, you can start by seeking out a mental healthcare provider.
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I have recently heard, but not witnessed firsthand, that someone who was once a close friend is verbally and physically abusing her partner. My gut reaction is to cut her off entirely - I don't mess with abusers. I would love to call her out for her behavior, but we're not as close anymore and I've only heard this through a mutual friend, so I don't feel it's my place.
I guess my main question here is, if you have witnessed abuse firsthand, as our mutual friend has, what is the best course of action - ESPECIALLY if the abuser is someone you're close with? Do you call out their behavior, or does that put the abused person at too much risk? Do you cut off contact? Do you shift your focus to helping the abused? It's just hard to think that someone I once cared for so much is capable of something so awful. Support and advice welcome.
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This is one of those situations that can feel so tricky and emotionally charged, even more so when it involves someone you consider a friend, so this is actually a really good question to ask. I would say a good, general rule is to center the needs of the person who is the target of the abuse. Both because they will be able to tell you what the most helpful way to support them is, but also because, if they're still in the abuser's orbit, they're the ones in the most danger if something goes wrong.
In this case, do you think your mutual friend can reach out to the partner and ask if there are ways they can support them?