I have known a woman since I was 6 years old. I was always there for her. I helped her through her drug problem. Her abusive parents. Her father’s death from cancer. Her horrible boyfriends. She is currently dating this guy. I don’t know too much about him. She told me he was her first and she “loves” him. However, he is an abusive person when he drinks. She has been bugging me to meet this guy for the longest time. I’ve always managed to avoid him. He’s in and out of jail constantly. She knows the abusive stuff is wrong, but her explanation is that she can change him into a better person. I’ve devoted myself to her, helping her with virtually everything. Her boyfriend is now in jail again for the next couple of months and I’ve been hanging out with her more than I normally do. The other night she was drinking a little and came on to me. I kept insisting she had a loving boyfriend and that she was drunk. I asked her if she loved him and she said yes. But she still came at me full charge. We didn’t have sex or anything, just a lot of kissing and touching. A co-worker of mine says, “I’m living a movie.” I understand where he is coming from. But I don’t know ... what to do?
I am scared and sad. Your friend needs to make serious, immediate and permanent changes in her life. She can’t save this guy. We can’t change someone into a better person; we can only inspire others to change themselves. And you shouldn’t even stick around to do that if there is any sort of abuse going on. She has to get (and stay) away from him, even if that means going to a shelter or filing protective orders when he gets out of jail. Her safety is my immediate concern. Next, she needs serious ongoing professional therapy. After all, we’re talking about someone with an unresolved history of abuse and addiction. She desperately needs help. Period. As for you, be available but keep your heart reeled in. Be her friend. There is too much going on here and getting romantically involved with this woman at this point in her life would be toxic for both of you. This isn’t exciting, or like a movie; it’s tragic and potentially fatal. Here’s what you can do to help:
• Don’t condemn her, but don’t encourage her either. Stop telling her she has “a loving boyfriend.” If he’s drinking and hitting and going in and out of jail, the last thing she needs is someone reinforcing the lies she tells herself.
• Explain that you care about her, and she can trust you. You must also tell her that she is living under dangerous circumstances. Ask her to be brave and get help, because she needs it. If she refuses, and many victims will, ask her to at least agree to an emergency plan should her safety be put at risk. The Julian Center has an example on their Web site at http://www.juliancenter.org/safety_plan.html
. Hopefully, she’ll take these steps. Of course, if you are ever aware of abuse taking place, don’t stand aside; call the police immediately. That’s the best course of action you can take. I’m sorry to say she’ll need to do the hard stuff. Let’s pray she does.
The Julian Center (317) 941-2200 24-Hour Crisis Line: (317) 251-7575