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Can you persuade someone to leave an abusive relationship?

Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:36 pm
by ScottyMcGee
I spent the last week or so in California for the first time with my girlfriend. It was a wonderful time - we both got to experience being in that area for the first time. We went to LA and then San Francisco.

The main reason for the trip was to visit her friend in San Francisco, whom we shall simply call S. S has been in relationship with this guy Dick since summer of last year - and I'm going to call him Dick from now on because that's pretty much what he is.

I asked my girlfriend how S met Dick and the story actually bothered me because my first reaction was, "This guy sounds like he could be a dangerous vagrant." My gf and S went to DC last year and partied. S ran into Dick in the crowd and the two of them hooked up and have been together since. But Dick was literally just some guy wandering around. He didn't have a job and later revealed that he was divorced with a kid. He didn't have any friends in DC. Something about that whole backstory just bothered me. When someone doesn't have many friends that just brings up a red flag in me (with exceptions such as the person is made fun of a lot, etc, etc).

S lives with Dick in an apartment in San Francisco. S moved there to study her line of work. Since San Francisco is notoriously expensive, she's able to hold a place with Dick having gotten a job and helping with rent.

Before we arrived, my gf told me a story about how Dick once got paranoid and looked through S's laptop and phone thinking she was cheating on him - when he had 0 evidence that anything like that happened. In my head, I knew this guy could get volatile.

We went to this awesome party in San Francisco at this actual warehouse or something. The place didn't have a name but apparently Dick knows some people in shady places who know where to "REALLY" party. The party place didn't have a name - you can't find it on a map. It's just an address.

We have fun. We take an uber back, and right away I notice tension between S and Dick. We return to the apartment and Dick says he's staying outside for a bit for a smoke. S reveals to us that Dick was freaking out on her back at the party. S waited for Dick to come out of the bathroom and when he returned he suddenly accused her of "giving the eyes" to this random guy - whatever that means. Basically - he policed her every move and interpreted her every move as some kind of flirtation with another guy when there really wasn't any.

S goes downstairs to talk to Dick. My gf and I hang out watching Stranger Things. S and Dick return to the room and Dick is FURIOUS. He's raging mad. He keeps accusing her of giving him ******** and then gets mad that she's now giving him the silent treatment. I ain't kidding when I say raging mad. This guy is shouting at the top of his lungs calling her a whore and slut. We all try to go to bed - key word - TRY. S ends up crying and sleeps on the couch by herself. Dick then starts throwing pillows at her and keeps saying **** like she's the fakest person he has ever known.

Keep in mind that since Dick has started yelling, my blood began to boil. At this point, I rose up from where I slept on the floor and cried, "DICK SHUT THE **** AND GO THE **** TO SLEEP."






There was a moment when I actually thought, "hahahahahahahahaha I'm going to die." Like you know in games like Beyond Two Souls or Heavy Rain when you choose something to say and then the outcome is not what you had in mind and you're like "oh shiiiiit I really messed up" ?? Yeah. That's how I felt. I thought "hahahaha **** he's going to pull out a knife and shank me or something." But thankfully, it never came to that.

After this, we're all clamoring for a bit. Dick then accepts that we all want him to leave. He tells S stuff like "I see how it is. You rally your friends against me. **** bitch."

I give Dick his jacket and tell him to leave one more time. Dick leaves.

I barely got a wink of sleep that night. I was up almost all night listening to any footsteps by the door thinking he'd come back. I kept thinking about backup plans. Plan B. Plan C. Plan D. E F G down to Z and then A1 and B1 and C1.

The next day, we woke up late, naturally. Dick, however, had returned at some point in the early morning and I remember freezing in horror when I saw him back in bed.

When everyone woke up - it was as if nothing had happened. Dick was his normal, sober self, albeit there was obvious tension between him and S where they would snap at each other. My gf and I kept glancing at each other with wide eyes, not knowing if this would explode any second.

We left to enjoy the day without Dick. Dick then left to stay somewhere - God only knows. All we heard from him was a Snapchat he sent S of a bedroom, and we assumed he had found a place to crash for the day.

At this point, my gf and I were certain that this was the end of their relationship.

Naturally it would be, right?


The next day, Dick returns around 3 AM, drunk. He tries apologizing to S. S wouldn't have it. They bicker. Before Dick goes his own way for the day - he actually tried spitting on S. I wasn't there for that unfortunately because I was showering. I can't imagine what I would have done if I had been in the room for that.

We leave again for more sight-seeing. S has been texting Dick nearly the entire time telling him what he did wrong and that he should apologize. Then near the end of the day, S agrees to have Dick meet up with us to apologize. Dick apologizes to us and. . .all is well? We go out and have drinks. Eventually, my gf and I leave San Francisco but of course the question lingering in our minds is "What the actual ****?" According to S, stuff like this had happened before and she dealt with it - hitting each other and spitting at each other and biting each other - and she kept saying he won't change. S actually said she was going to break up with him. But they aren't broken up.

I talked to my gf more about their history. My gf is really worried about S. S used to have friends in San Francisco but she pushed them all away when they spoke out against Dick. So naturally, my gf is afraid of speaking out against Dick to S because she'll get pushed away too. S is in a tight spot because she needs to study for her doctorate in San Francisco but she needs a place to stay, and Dick is helping out with rent. So my gf suspects the financial strain is partly why S is bothering to stay with Dick.

I dunno man. It was a wild night. I get tired just by thinking about it. It's clear that S is trapped in an abusive, controlling relationship, but she's very prideful and hates being told what to do.

Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:34 pm
by Apollo the Just
This sounds like a really **** situation.

The short answer is you can't convince someone to leave a situation and you don't always know everything about it. It's possible someone in an abusive or harmful relationship does not feel safe to leave or stand up against the situation. You definitely don't always know the full story, so there may be other compounding factors at play further complicating this.

There's no easy answer to this, but what you CAN do is offer to listen if S needs someone to talk to about her relationship and situation. You CAN offer your perspective, saying "I felt uncomfortable that Dick treats you this way, if you ever feel uncomfortable about it feel free to talk to me or [friend] about it." The most helpful thing you can do if you think she is in an abusive or manipulative or unhealthy situation is to offer to listen, and offer support. Because this is definitely not a healthy and happy situation. This is pretty **** up.

Abusers usually want their victims to feel isolated and/or dependent on them. The best way to counter that is to extend a hand and support. Just offer your ear and your company. You don't need to crusade for her if that isn't what she wants, because it's possible that any standing up for her you or others do may result in Dick taking it out on S later. Maybe it's even worse than you think, who knows. What you do know is that something is very definitely not ok from what you saw. Be honest and communicate that to her, but if you're afraid of her pushing you away, don't frame it like "he's bad for you gtfo now", but rather "I felt uncomfortable when [example], are you okay?" - only talk from your own experiences, don't make assumptions, but still offer a chance for the conversation to be about her if she would like to share.

If you're concerned for S, tell her you're concerned and offer her an ear if she'd like to talk to someone, but I would advise against giving her concrete advice on what to do until you're sure you know the full story. I mean, I don't know, you know the situation better than me, but from my experience it's always best to let people talk for themselves about what they want before giving advice. You can offer someone help and company but you can't force them to make decisions they aren't prepared to make. But if they ARE ready to make them, you can support them in this. Step 1 is to reach out with compassion.

You can also provide her abuse victims resources in the area; I don't have any on hand now but I could look some up if you'd like since I'm somewhat in the SF area.

Good luck. I hope everyone gets out of this ok.

Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:36 pm
by Jesus
Given how laws are currently in most places in the US, it isn't easy to just up and leave someone. She may very well know that she is in an abusive relationship and would want to leave sure. In terms of the law relating to domestic disputes, the police can't even step in until after the damage is done. Mix this with having common friends, you stand to be judged by your peers afterwards. What if she's staying because she can't make enough to be on her own? That's another thing that can make it tough. There's safe houses for women who are being abused, but not all can provide legal services for them pro bono. Getting out of an abusive relationship has a lot of negative consequences on the abused after going through all of it. Don't get me wrong. I don't agree with domestic violence or abusive relationships at all. As it stands for help with the people being abused, resources are sadly limited for them. The only way she would be willing to get out, is if someone confronted her about it and offered to help her in any way possible. You and your girlfriend seemed to catch on to seeing this. The girl invited you both into her home. Do you think maybe this was a call for attention to the problem? I think your girlfriend needs to call her and confront her about it.

Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:33 pm
Tldr but if it's serious enough to warrant legitimate concern then contact the proper authorities. Involving yourself in other people's relationships could be trouble and is less effective than letting authorities settle it. If you feel it's in good taste and you're close enough to someone then giving advice could be okay. That's what I think anyway.

Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:43 pm
by ScottyMcGee
To clarify, I'm not planning on directly talking to S about this. My gf is MUCH closer to S than I ever was or will be. I'm just more brainstorming how to help S through my gf. My gf has asked me how I think she should handle this. The other issue is that Dick CONSTANTLY checks S's phone and laptop when she's not around, so my gf is afraid of even messaging her. She called S a moment ago actually but couldn't talk because Dick is still in the apartment and was chilling next to her. S then kept saying "I'm fine. It's okay. I'm fine." Just over and over. My gf hatched a plan to contact her with a new fake email and share the password between them and communicate with each other through unfinished email drafts.

Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:51 pm
Sounds like the plot to a horror movie. I'd call the cops if it's that bad

Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:17 am
by Jesus
Scotty, that's a good idea using unfinished email drafts to be able to talk to her. The thing I want to see is that you ensure to her that she will be safe after turning the guy in. She's going to be fearful of retaliation and the after-effects of leaving the abusive relationship. Make sure she knows she will be okay and that she has people who will help her through this. Also, don't let her make the mistake of having this secret email thing left on the browsing history or else you could end up with a whole other lot of trouble. Part of the reason most of these people don't leave abusive relationships is because it's so easy for the abuser to retaliate down the line. There's countless forms of harrassment she can face from him even after leaving him from contacting her family, contacting her work, putting her on blast on the internet, etc. Just be careful please.

Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:20 am
by Apollo the Just
That's a well thought out plan. It's really scary that it's come to this but I'm glad your friend has come up with a solution to communicate so they can coordinate and take action to get her out of there. I sincerely hope everything is ok for S.

Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:31 am
by Deepfake
That is definitely an abusive and controlling situation. I'm sorry you got stuck in the middle of it, but I'm glad you're trying to find a way to help because I know you're a good dude.

Everything I could say has mostly been covered by Apollo. I would like to emphasize that, in my experience, if they're willing to do it in front of you whatever they do out of view is likely worse. The only person who can make a decision about her lifestyle is her, though. If you would like to help her do that, perhaps there are ways you can help her understand through education about abusive behaviors. Instead of framing it as a 'cut him off' message, I would suggest that you frame it as trying to help both her and Dick, because honestly he sounds like he needs a lot of help too. I would try to take the road of offering (professionally compiled) information about abuse and recovery (even as an abuser) and not decide for her what she wants to do about it. If you look for it, there may be information which can help you decide your approach, as well.

If it's truly difficult, you can always offer her a place to stay and a sympathetic ear as a safety net, or think up more practical solutions for that. People are more likely to be comfortable in their actions if they know they have an exit.

Posted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:20 pm
by ScottyMcGee
Man I'm riled up tonight. Roller coaster of emotions.

My gf updated me on S's situation. S texted her saying that Dick freaked out again. So by my count, the honeymoon phase of the abuse cycle only lasted 5 days. Dick thought she was seeing someone and threatened to stab the guy. She wasn't sure if he was serious or not. He didn't do it - at least as of this moment. For all we know, he could still really want to do it.

I talked to my gf more about it and she talked to her father about it (her father had a friend once in the same situation) and wanted to follow his advice. Her father said something that - to me - sounded like a suggestion to drop the whole thing altogether, and at first we argued over that misunderstanding because I thought she meant she was going to stop trying to help S altogether. It was just that my gf is going to stop asking people for help because she feels like she's getting nowhere. She wants to clear her head and figure out how to approach S on her own because apparently today S warned my gf, "You're talking about this too much." So it's pretty delicate now - my gf doesn't want to scare S away thinking we're telling her what to do with her life. My gf is totally fine with me asking people for help though - she's totally aware that I'm telling you all of this. She's just personally overwhelmed since she's on the front lines of this.

But I talked to a very old friend of mine - K - and I got riled up after he legit shut me down for help. K and I go way back doing each other crazy favors (circa middle school years). Our friendship, as I understand, is that we always agreed to help each other out with whatever crazy situation even if we don't understand it fully. A pact basically. Partners in crime. He knows a lot of people in many states and has been to San Francisco so I asked if he knew someone whom S could run to God forbid the worst case scenario happens. But as I was elaborating the backstory that I told you guys in the original post, he legit cut me off saying, "Why are you telling me this? I don't care. I don't care about this person. It's her problem. Not my problem."

I don't know what it is about me but I hate running from a problem, especially when someone is in mortal danger. K's apparent apathy threw me off - total curveball. Like dammit - this is why the world is on fire right now. Something wrong is going on and people literally go "Not my problem." AND THEN they have the AUDACITY to whine and moan about the state of the world and hope the government or some **** heads change things. Screw all those bastards. Goddamn hypocrites. All of them. Good **** night. End rant.

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:30 pm
by ScottyMcGee
So I totally forgot to update this, partially because I was really busy and partially because I didn't want to jinx it when it seemed like S was finally going to leave.

It's all over now.

S eventually admitted to my gf that she was in an abusive relationship and she was thinking of what to do. She didn't want to talk too much about it but then she found a friend whose house she stayed over. She gave Dick an ultimatum to leave the apartment by the end of that week.

And. Well.

In S's absence, Dick invited some random girl he picked up from a night out. Apparently he was so verbally abusive towards her that someone in the apartment called the police. The police came, he put up a fight, they took him away and he went to jail for a couple days.

How about that, eh? Isn't it great when the trash takes itself out?

It was quite a roller coaster and I was crossing my fingers that S wouldn't revert back into a honeymoon phase with Dick and continue the cycle. She asked that I remove all Facebook photos of her and Dick from our vacation so I did just that.

From there, S regained her life as she issued a restraining order on Dick. Dick returned to Washington D.C.

The End.

On a side note, I hope that unknown girl he brought over is all right.

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:41 pm
by Booyakasha
Glad you updated this, man.

Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:45 pm
by smol Kat
I'm so glad to hear that! One of the hardest things about a situation like this is getting the abused to realize that that is what's happening and to take action. So it's great that your friend took action.