friendship

“Every time I hear about another woman being killed by her partner I freeze, terrified it’s you.”

To my friend in an abusive relationship,

Trigger warning: This post deals with family violence and may be triggering for some readers.

We first met at school, when you were a blonde haired, blue eyed princess, and I was a mousy tomboy with scraped knees.

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to watch you grow into a young woman who is not only physically beautiful, but incredibly intelligent, kind and gentle.

You’re the sort of person who adopts stray animals, gives money to the homeless and volunteers at orphanages.

So how did you get here?

How did someone like you – someone who could have been anything, done anything – end up in an abusive relationship with an ice addict?

Even now, months and months after your toxic relationship started, I can’t understand it.

The very first time I met him, I realised something was off. He was rude, jumpy and dismissive of us, your closest friends. I felt uncomfortable in his presence – he just felt dangerous, somehow, and I wondered what you possibly saw in him.

Soon, the late-night, whispered, teary phone calls began after you experienced ugly fight after ugly fight.

Can’t you see he’s slowly isolating you from your family, your friends, your support network?

Then there were the stories of how he opened your mail, insisted on knowing your passwords and PIN numbers, deleted your male friends from Facebook, and demanded an explanation for your every movement.

You told us how he needed to know a backstory on each of your female friends, and how he would find excuses to stop you from seeing us.

And when we do get to see you for a rare dinner or movie? He either calls you every 15 minutes to “check in”, or turns up unannounced, telling you it’s time to leave.

Can’t you see he’s slowly isolating you from your family, your friends, your support network?

But worst of all are those times he’s shoved you, grabbed you, loomed over you while he screamed in your face. He’s even chased you through traffic, putting lives in danger.

Below is a TED Talk by Leslie Morgan Steiner on why domestic violence victims don’t leave. Post continues after video.

The police have been called more than once by horrified strangers, but so far, he’s stopped himself short of actually leaving you with any physical bruises. So far.

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But I’m desperately worried that won’t last for long.

Because right now, it seems like you are in a classic abusive relationship – one where the abuse continues to escalate with time instead of getting better.

And that’s why every time I hear about another young woman being killed by her partner I freeze, terrified it’s you.

At first, we gently tried to tell you to leave, that we were worried, that you deserved better. Now we tell you the same things, only far more urgently. We tell you we’ll help you leave, find you support, talk to the police.

But you brush our words off, insisting there’s no problem. Insisting he doesn’t mean it. Insisting he’ll get off the drugs, for real, this time.

You brush our words off, insisting there’s no problem.

But he never does, does he? He never can seem to quit, or control his temper, or treat you with respect. And I lie awake at night, thinking about how that particularly destructive drug can turn an already controlling man deadly at any moment.

We know you try and pretend everything is OK – we can hear it in that false, bright voice you use when you insist he’s getting better. We see it in the exaggerated, loved-up Facebook statuses you post. And we feel it when we’re with you, and can see how you’ve gone from a vivacious and outgoing young woman to a withdrawn and defeated person in a matter of months.

So what can we do to help you? How can we make you see that this is not normal, and that the way you are being treated is horrifying to the rest of the world? How can we make you understand that he’s quite possibly a ticking time bomb, and that you need to get out, now, while you still can?

All we can hope is that soon you’ll be able to see these things for yourself.

And when you do? We’ll be there.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live: they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Editor’s note: the author of this piece is known to Mamamia and has chosen to remain anonymous to avoid any distress to her friend. Thank you for your respect of her privacy and your understanding.

To read more on this topic… 

The domestic violence no one talks about.

Domestic violence: Aboriginal women are 38 times more likely to be hospitalised.

NSW Labor MP Trish Doyle tells own story of domestic violence in maiden speech.