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Thread: worried for my friend... when is it abuse?

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    #1

    worried for my friend... when is it abuse?

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    So when most people think of abuse they think of like the man completely beating up the woman... punching her, kicking her, slamming her against walls. Everyone blatantly recognizes this as abuse, and would urge the victim to leave. But what about if the actions are much less? Is it still abuse? Should you keep pushing the matter to the victim? I am at a loss. A friend that I have sometimes brought up on this forum as being married with a baby and has been with this guys for years. They've always had issues, but it was more about how he would cheat on her in the beginning of the relationship. That's not really a problem anymore as they are now adults and worked through it and moved past it, but they fight a lot. I mean, normal. But it has been excessive. He has not been kind. But they are working through it, and have even been going to counseling. But certain things have been getting worse... she told me she had taken her kid and left for a few days to stay with a friend because he had pushed her in an argument. She seemed appropriately mad at first, as she usually is... they went to a counseling session before she went back to their house after a few days apart, and now all is back to normal.

    I mean, I have told her some about how I am worried about her and husband's anger problems, and how it seems to just be getting worse instead of better even with counseling. Thing is... those around her, their mentors and counselors, seem to think this fine. Have convinced her to see that she had a part in this, if she hadn't tried to walk away from him instead of talking to him, he wouldn't have pushed her. That when he pushed her he didn't mean to hurt her. I don't know, that to me sounds extremely scary and excuse filled... but I don't know what to think. Apart of me is like this is how it always starts out, right? I mean, most of the time there isn't violent abuse on the first fucking date, otherwise the woman would move on. It's usually gradual or comes later in the relationship, once you are bonded to one another and start to test the boundaries. She has been told that she needs to be understanding to her husband and kind and gentle and not punish him for such things, and she is such a sweet person that that is what she does. In some ways i see wisdom in that, and then in some ways I don't. To me I feel like she is teaching him how to treat her, that no matter what he does to her she will still treat him the same abuse or not, so why try to change?

    I just this morning wrote this long email to her telling her this... then erased it. Then started to write it again but in a different way, basically being like I want you to know that I care for you and your safety, and I don't like how people are coercing you to not think of this as a big deal etc etc... but still erased it. I just don't know if it calls for it... I mean, what do you think? The pushing hasn't been an ongoing thing (at least as far as I know... but she's usually pretty honest about what he does and the things he says to her, no matter how awful) but would that be a dealbreaker for you? Should I be getting "on her" more about not taking this lightly? Telling her i'm concerned for her safety? Or would that be too much of an overreaction at this point? I just don't know if I should wait and see if the violence actually becomes a problem for them, or if I should make sure I say something more now because I don't want to regret it if something worse happens... I don't know. She lives far away and I don't know her husband super well, but have been in her life since before him, and have to say he hasn't been one of those guys that I just hated from day one, in fact the opposite... I do see a lot of good in him, but I don't like what is happening lately and I don't like how she gives in to him and lets him "get away" with things because that is what her mentors and counselors are basically having her do. And the fighting, him flying off the handle and swearing and sometimes calling her names... it happens on a weekly basis. It's just the pushing that is new, and it is the second time it has happened, but it was actually like a year or 2 ago when the first time happened.

    I don't know!!! Is it a big deal right now, or only has the potential to be? Should I shut up for now, or should I say something? She knows I love her and knows i'm not ok with this, she tells me everything. She told me that night she was considering a divorce, and then 2 days later she is back with him and normal. Maybe that's fine, maybe it isn't. I've just never dealt with this before, and I don't want to push her away, but I also want her to be smart. Counseling isn't working, but it's not like I want to tell her to leave him... so if I don't really have a solution for her, then maybe I just shouldn't say anything at all? For now, at least.
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    #2
    If he's laid any kind of hand on her in anger, that is abuse, IMO. And I think it's very dangerous that professionals are saying otherwise, because these types of things tend to escalate.
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    I agree, any hands laid on her is abuse and it sounds like she is in a mostly verbally abusive relationship which isn't good for her or her child's mental health. Verbal abuse is similar to physical abuse and shouldn't be allowed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MS234755 View Post
    If he's laid any kind of hand on her in anger, that is abuse, IMO. And I think it's very dangerous that professionals are saying otherwise, because these types of things tend to escalate.
    Quote Originally Posted by snowangel729 View Post
    I agree, any hands laid on her is abuse and it sounds like she is in a mostly verbally abusive relationship which isn't good for her or her child's mental health. Verbal abuse is similar to physical abuse and shouldn't be allowed.
    right, but is there anything I can or should do about it? I feel the same as you both do, I just don't know how or if I should handle it. And how if I did say something, how would I tell her handle it? I have no clue. They're already in counseling.
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    I do think that laying your hands on your spouse in anger is abuse.

    That said, it's not a deal-breaker for me. Has she thought about living separately? Maybe he could stay with a friend or get a hotel room for a little while and she could stay in the house with the baby? I would not divorce my husband over abuse unless it was either 1) seriously injuring or 2) directed towards my child. But I would ask him to live elsewhere (to create a safe situation) until I felt comfortable allowing him back into the house. The counselors you mentioned-- do they go to marital counseling or does she just go to individual counseling? I would absolutely recommend marital counseling to them while they work through his anger issues.
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    Quote Originally Posted by katinahat View Post
    I do think that laying your hands on your spouse in anger is abuse.

    That said, it's not a deal-breaker for me. Has she thought about living separately? Maybe he could stay with a friend or get a hotel room for a little while and she could stay in the house with the baby? I would not divorce my husband over abuse unless it was either 1) seriously injuring or 2) directed towards my child. But I would ask him to live elsewhere (to create a safe situation) until I felt comfortable allowing him back into the house. The counselors you mentioned-- do they go to marital counseling or does she just go to individual counseling? I would absolutely recommend marital counseling to them while they work through his anger issues.
    she did do that at first, she immediately left with the baby and stayed I think for 3 days at the friend's house? I kind of tried to tell her I thought she should stay with her friend until they had more than one counseling session before returning back home, but she went back after a few days and one session. I think another important piece of the puzzle, and one maybe you can help me think through Kat since you are a fellow Christian, is that the counseling they are getting is through their church, and it's marriage counseling for both of them. I am a Christian myself, so I don't think this is wrong or inferior necessarily, but it is them that I speak about in my OP about how they are sort of not alarmed about his behavior... and telling her she needs to be submissive and respect her husband and he will change with that. But he hasn't, it's gotten worse. It's difficult for me because I am not against religion at all, but I feel like the use of God and the Bible here is being slightly misused, I mean not entirely... there is some wisdom to being there for your husband and working GOd into your marriage if you are both believers, but I feel like her counselors are blinded by the God factor and not seeing how serious things are. She is also a new Christian, so she soaks things up like a sponge in how she should act. It just feels dangerous But I agree with you, I do support her working things out with him as is, but I am afraid it will get worse. I also think they should live separately for a while and continue counseling, but they have encouraged her to get back to normal and not incite any sort of punishment in her actions towards him, which includes living separately. As a side note, she does also get personal counseling from a non-church affiliated source, but he does not. And probably won't.
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    #7
    I agree that any hands laid on a spouse out of anger is abuse..

    However, you only know her side of the situation and what she is describing. You don't know what these fights entail, for example, is she hitting him, or putting hands on him in anger?? Not that it condones his or her behavior, but if she is abusing him as much as he is her, then there are issues far beyond anything you can do.

    If a counselor is truly saying that everything is 'fine' then, that would tell me that I don't know the whole situation. I don't know of any professional that would knowingly put a person back in an abusive situation. Only reason I could think of, is the person being counseled isn't telling the truth or telling the whole situation.

    I would just continue to tell her that you are there for her and urge her to continue to go to the counselor. If you step in or if you go too far you could end up hurt yourself.

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    Perhaps instead of trying to define whether it is abuse (because that "diagnosis" and that word may make her scared and defensive), just work from the standpoint that it is unacceptable, whether it technically rises to the level of abuse or not.

    I would urge her to draw lines for what behaviors are healthy and acceptable for her, and to then discuss with her counselor how to proceed. She can tell her husband that laying his hand on her in anger is never, ever okay, and that if it ever happens again, she will consider the marriage over, and she can do that without ever using the word "abuse" or ever even deciding for herself that it is abuse.

    I think that word is scary and intimidating. And it often connotes a certain victim-hood that people resist. So there's no need to use the word. You can still tell her you are worried about her, worried about it getting worse, worried because she has been unhappy for quite a while and it seems to be getting better instead of worse, etc. And you can suggest that maybe it would be a good time for her to decide what healthy boundaries look like for her, and what she is willing to do if he isn't willing to accept and respect those boundaries. Encourage her to have a firm line drawn in her mind, where she will be willing to walk away, and the discuss that line with a counselor and then with her husband.

    And yes, do encourage her to see a secular counselor on her own, for a different perspective.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrishAFSpouse View Post
    I agree that any hands laid on a spouse out of anger is abuse..

    However, you only know her side of the situation and what she is describing. You don't know what these fights entail, for example, is she hitting him, or putting hands on him in anger?? Not that it condones his or her behavior, but if she is abusing him as much as he is her, then there are issues far beyond anything you can do.

    If a counselor is truly saying that everything is 'fine' then, that would tell me that I don't know the whole situation. I don't know of any professional that would knowingly put a person back in an abusive situation. Only reason I could think of, is the person being counseled isn't telling the truth or telling the whole situation.

    I would just continue to tell her that you are there for her and urge her to continue to go to the counselor. If you step in or if you go too far you could end up hurt yourself.
    Very true, I don't necessarily know everything. I just feel with the type of person she is, the fact that she had her baby with her and is currently pregnant that she is not abusive towards him. I feel that the counselors are downplaying it more because of their source as mentioned above with it being through the church. And they don't think of it as abuse, and maybe it's not yet? I'm sure if this were frequent and/or he punched her/bruised her that they would not encourage her to go back. They have had her look at what she did to escalate things, which I DO think is beneficial in some ways, but at the same time barring trying to like stab him or physically hurt him, I don't really think she can push him to be abusive. I don't believe this is her fault. But it feels like they are putting a good bulk of the blame on her.

    Quote Originally Posted by villanelle View Post
    Perhaps instead of trying to define whether it is abuse (because that "diagnosis" and that word may make her scared and defensive), just work from the standpoint that it is unacceptable, whether it technically rises to the level of abuse or not.

    I would urge her to draw lines for what behaviors are healthy and acceptable for her, and to then discuss with her counselor how to proceed. She can tell her husband that laying his hand on her in anger is never, ever okay, and that if it ever happens again, she will consider the marriage over, and she can do that without ever using the word "abuse" or ever even deciding for herself that it is abuse.

    I think that word is scary and intimidating. And it often connotes a certain victim-hood that people resist. So there's no need to use the word. You can still tell her you are worried about her, worried about it getting worse, worried because she has been unhappy for quite a while and it seems to be getting better instead of worse, etc. And you can suggest that maybe it would be a good time for her to decide what healthy boundaries look like for her, and what she is willing to do if he isn't willing to accept and respect those boundaries. Encourage her to have a firm line drawn in her mind, where she will be willing to walk away, and the discuss that line with a counselor and then with her husband.

    And yes, do encourage her to see a secular counselor on her own, for a different perspective.
    yes, it was part of the reason I kept deleting the emails... I as well was hesitant to use the word abuse since so far it has been isolated incidences of moderate pushing (but lots of verbal), but I didn't know how to convey that in terms of it being warning signs of later escalation. I feel like she trusts these counselors a lot and believes that they know what is best (and maybe in some ways they do?) so it would be very difficult to get her to think otherwise. She keeps telling me that he does seem to have epiphanies and know on a deep level what he has done wrong during the counseling sessions... but he can't put it into practice when it calls for it. Ya know? To me that isn't really progress...
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    #10
    You don't know what people are like behind closed doors. Not saying she is abusive herself, but you truly do not know. As you said, there are many kinds of abuse. She could be verbally abusing him or something like that. Maybe she throws objects, who knows. Maybe she isn't doing anything to provoke him at all, and he's just doing it. You truly do not know.

    I am not sure I agree that the counselors are skewed, or I don't agree that them being from the church would cause them to not see abuse if it is there. Sure, the possibility is there, just as it is for a counselor not through the church. But, I could see how they could be more biased in keeping the relationship together.

    I also agree to not use the word 'victim' or even the word 'abuse'... I would encourage here to seek advice/help outside the church, if for no other reason than a second opinion. The situation, regardless of what it is called, is unhealthy and not good for any of them, especially the child.

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