My abused friend won’t let me help her

This story is based on an interview with Diane W. Here, she recounts her attempt to help a friend who

This story is based on an interview with Diane W. Here, she recounts her attempt to help a friend who is a domestic abuse victim:

“I’ve been friends with Felicia* for more than 30 years. And throughout that friendship, I’ve seen her tormented physically and emotionally,” said Diane.

“Earlier into our friendship, I didn’t realise she was suffering but at time passed, I started noticing signs – she finds it hard to leave her home, always bails out on appointments with friends and the most obvious sign was the bruises that often accompanied her arms, neck and legs,” Diane recalls.

“One day, I decided to ask her about her bruises and as if having waited for me to ask her for the longest time, she broke down into tears and finally told me the truth – her husband was abusing her mentally and physically.

“I became her closest and most trusted confidant and the more I knew, the more I avoided bumping into her husband as I could never hide my anger and disgust towards him.

“This whole abuse story went on for years and although I had given Felicia some ideas on how to loosen his grip on her – like reporting to the police or telling her family – the situation persisted and she chose to endure his rage.

“But one fine day, things proved to be too much for Felicia so she fought back and she demanded for a divorce. This time, her monster of a husband took things a step further he threatened to take the kids away. He said that if she dared leave him, he would make sure that she would never see the kids ever again. Felicia felt trapped,” said Diane.

“I told her that she should go to the police and report everything but she refused. She says that she would go through anything just to be close to her kids and will only leave him once the kids go to college. I’m sure there is something that can be done to prevent her husband taking her kids away but she is not convinced and I have run out of ideas.

Diane is asking for some advice, “I’m afraid if I lodge a report on her behalf, our friendship will be severed and she would have no one to confide into. I need to know if there is a way to help her.”

If you know anyone who is dealing with domestic abuse, there are plenty of resources on the Department of Human Services website.

*Name has been changed to protect relationships.

What would you do in such a situation?

  1. Jane  

    I know how she feels as I felt that way for a lot of years . The fear she feels is unimaginable . She’s lucky to have a friend like you but in the. End its up to her for her kids sake she could go to a women’s refuge and they will help her work through it .its not going to be easy ,her esteem and self worth has gone therefore she is to frightened to do it . All you can do is be there for her or else get someone else to ring the police when he is doing this . I hope this helps .

    • Margaret Nolland  

      She will do something when she is ready. You are helping by being her friend & letting her talk. It must be her decision, done when she is ready. Hang in there, she has come so far. I understand both her side & yours. I too have been a victim

  2. Stephen  

    Her self worth has been taken from her, except for you, so you remain her only avenue of any life ever. Just keep that in mind as you continue to support her. Talk to the appropriate welfare support groups and find out what is there for her. Talk to her gently when the door is open to do so about what the effect your husbands behaviour is doing to the kids. A friend once said to me “when you are confused, all you see is confusion”, your friend is crushed, so she cannot see a way out….YET. By being her strength, with your support and patience she will grow stronger, with information in a future hope, she will grow stronger. OK she had a first moment of trying to get out, tell her specifically that as she grows stronger he cannot see this, it will only increase his violence; remember little steps make up strides.

  3. Hi Dianne,
    I don`t think it would hurt if you got some advice off Human Services. I think your friend may feel trapped or is made to feel it is all her fault ( who knows if he has a Mental Health Condition?) The thing she is going through is not a marriage but, some sort of dysfunctional sham, through no fault of her own. The situation is not going to get any better, how bad is it going to get ?? Your friend & the kids need to get away from all the mental and physical stress to have a “normal” life. I wish you good luck. x

  4. I am the same, in that I have a friend in that exact same situation. She has tried to leave but needs financial back up. She’s chronically ill, with multiple problems including thyroid and adrenal failure caused by years of severe stress. I would help if if I could. She would go if she had financial support but she has three children and she knows that if she left, she would get no financial support from her husband.. She did try leaving and attempted to get help through Centrelink but they simply didn’t pay her, despite saying she was eligible. She fought them on it but in the end gave up the fight. It’s a disgrace that women have to stay in abusive situations because there’s no financial support out there. Australia is no longer the lucky country. If it wasn’t for her children, I don’t think she’d be with us today.

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