Bitch, Please: Yes, Your Friend Is Too Good To Stay With An Abuser

Do you have issues with your no-longer-best girlfriend? Is your coworker driving you crazy? Megan Carpentier is here to give you the life advice that you don’t want to hear, told in the way you absolutely need to hear it.

A good friend of mine began seriously dating a very shy boy I knew from classes a while ago. At first, I acted happy for her, since I was certain it wouldn’t last long, but the first thing that bothered me was when he moved in with her. She’s a hardworking student, whereas he’d never (and still hasn’t) held a job in his life. At first I merely disapproved of the obvious codependency, but then, during a visit to her house, he began making crude remarks about their sex life. When she asked him to stop, he started hitting her in front of me! The more she asked him to stop, the more he hit her, until finally I broke out of my shocked stupor and intervened. After that, I wasn’t invited to her house ever again. When I asked her why not, she replied, “He’s just not comfortable with you around.” He’s not comfortable! The more that I hear about their relationship, the more I can’t believe what she’s putting up with! Not only does he physically hurt her, he insults her talents (she’s a great artist) and constantly tells her that she should be making more money. I tried telling her that, as a friend, I didn’t feel like he was good for her. She tried to change the subject, and when I wouldn’t let her, she left. I know it’s not my place to impose on anyone’s relationship choices, but it breaks my heart to see such a beautiful and talented young woman putting up a complete loser like that.

Look, there’s a big difference between a garden-variety loser who doesn’t deserve your friend and abuses her good nature, and a violent, insecure person that physically abuses your friend — and by belaboring the former problem, you’ve put her in a defensive position over her “relationship choices” rather than forcing her to confront the fact that she’s dating an abuser.

Obviously, you weren’t keen on him or her dating him from the get-go: just look at how you described their relationship above (which, I’m going to guess, is pretty mild compared to what else you’ve said). Calling her co-dependent, describing him as a freeloader, referring to him as a loser and making it clear that you felt she was too good for them gave both of them an opening to dismiss you as judgmental and dismiss your concerns as unresolvable and biased against him. I mean, even after witnessing him physically abusing her, your complaints about him devolve back into how much better she is than him and how he’s not good for her, rather than the fact that you witnessed him abusing her.

The problem, of course, is that you’ve — in her mind — marked yourself as a non-credible narrator, and having complained about him being a freeloader and not good enough for her, you’ve given both of them a toehold to dismiss your quite-appropriate problem with the physical abuse and the belittling language and comments that are really bothersome.

And, in the mean time, the attempt to embarrass or belittle her by discussing their sex life with her friend, as well as the openness with which he laid his hands on her in anger in front of her friend indicate that the problem isn’t just that he’s a freeloader, or a loser, or shy, or pushy about her financial situation. When a relationship has reached a point at which the abuser is openly physically abusing his victim, that which goes on behind closed doors is probably worse than what you witnessed. And it’s not about judging her relationship choices — it’s about helping her see that she needs help.

But to help her see that, you have to admit that you’ve been too judgmental of her boyfriend for the wrong reasons, so that she can trust what you’re saying comes from a place not of disliking him, but of being worried — seriously, appropriately worried — for her and her health. The way to start a conversation is to sit her down in person (outside of their home and away from their boyfriend) and say, “It’s no secret that I’ve never been a fan of your boyfriend or your guys’ relationship. And I appreciate that, having been a bitch about him from the get-go, that it’s hard to listen to me now or trust my opinion. But I want to express to you how absolutely, utterly horrified I was the last time I was over and he first said those things about your personal life and then struck you when you objected. Anything I said about him being a loser or too dependent on you — that was me expressing an opinion that you could do better. This is me expressing my opinion that his behavior towards you is completely over the line, and that I am really, really worried about you. And this is me promising that I am here when you need to talk about that, and that I will shut my mouth about the things I didn’t like about him because the most important thing here is how much I care about you.”

And then focus your attention on her, on what she needs out of a relationship, what she’s getting out of the relationship with her boyfriend and what she needs to be able to get out — be that assistance, or assurance that there will be no I-told-you-sos. There’s some more professional advice about what loved ones can do to help out a victim of abuse — but you need to fix your relationship with her (and put her back on equal footing with you, rather than putting yourself above her) before you can help her get out of her relationship with him.

If you have a problem with a friend, relative, coworker, or other person in your life, email Megan at advice@thegloss.com. If you have a problem with your boyfriend, you should probably just try talking to him.

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    • non

      Why haven’t the cops been called? If this guy is openly abusing her, who knows what he is doing when no one is around. Who’s to say he might not hurt her so bad she ends up in the hospital or dead?
      If someone is physically abusing you, you need to get out of that relationship NOW.
      I say this with a lot experience in this area. Growing up my father physically abused my mother and us kids. When I was finally old enough to move out at 18 I did, right into a relationship with a physically abusive guy. It took me 2 years to get out of that relationship and 6 years later I’m still trying to deal with all of this and figure out how to live a normal life.
      Get your friend help now <3

    • Lauragirl

      What a lot of time Megan spent on correcting the worried friend, reading herself in print==my goodness. Call the police NOW…… and write your poor friend an anonymous note later and tell her about him and her friends care. GOOD LUCK

    • Lauragirl

      OOPS…. and tell her that her friends really care….