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Thread: Falling in love with a woman trying to escape abusive marriage

  1. #1
    ConcernedFriend Guest

    Falling in love with a woman trying to escape abusive marriage

    From out of an isolated place for us both i have forged a deep connection and mutual solace with the most wonderful woman. She is separated from an abusive/isolating husband and responsible for her three children alone at the moment. I'm on the autistic spectrum and have a history of generalised anxiety disorder and depression and have been out of work for some time due to a nervous breakdown. I love her so much and i'm very careful to let her know that while there is a mutual spark of romance and attraction between us that we have explored- my support is unconditional and i would be equally thrilled to be her best friend. I am careful not to push in any way. We are currently separated considerably by distance and our relationship unfolds via talking on the phone and online every spare moment, i have concrete evidence of most everything she's told me about herself and trust her entirely.

    Her husband sort of ensnared her before she was old enough to know her own mind (got her pregnant at 19, when he was 28) and is basically a textbook emotional abuser. He was obsessionally jealous, seeing things that weren't there with other men and even threatening to kill her "if she ever cheated" - he also subjected her to what i understand to be martial rape and threatened suicide if she was to leave him. He destroyed her possessions- once tearing up dozens of her books and kicking in a door in response to finding (innocent) pictures sent of a male internet friend on her email. She describes the relationship as constantly walking on eggshells.

    Not long after that- she told him he needed to deal with his jealousy issues or they where through, and after another outburst she bravely told him it was over (via phone) but he managed to press her into saying she'd give him a "chance" after a separation and while she is done and hasn't loved him in years- to him the separation is a tactical withdrawal, i think. She is currently in his house (he is elsewhere) where he has full access to her and the kids if he wants. (he comes around being a yelling nuisance at times)

    She is i think enjoying the peace and freedom of him not being there these past months and is very nervous to tell him it's over and that she wants a divorce for how he'll react etc. She doesn't feel he would physically hurt or kill her, however.

    So, for me the problem began when i told my mother about the situation and learned it had eerie similarities with her situation with my father (who was emotionally and occasionally physically abusivie to her and us, as well as sexually abusive to my siblings) - he also destroyed possessions to get his message across and agree to a separation tactically before returning more abusive than before.

    I have as i mentioned some serious mental health challenges in my life and have tried to deal with the obsessive worry about her future and well being with doing all the research i can into domestic abuse and how best to help. I have found local domestic violence services for her to access/support groups etc and while she hasn't been that receptive (she's the type to be avoidant about problems/issues)- i read that it is important not to push or try and make decisions for victims and to let them move at their own pace, in order not to add to the feeling of disempowerment.

    I'll admit, though she is worth it a thousand times over- her situation has become a serious mental health trigger for me- my anxiety is the sort that will zoom to the worst possible outcome and then i will have to actively battle to keep it at bay. I am haunted by the thought of him hurting her near constantly to the point i am unable to function. I read an academic paper on the common traits and behaviours of those who murder their intimate partners and found he fitted almost all the risk factors. I was besides myself, and all though i am told to trust the victims own risk assessment i also read that 50% of victims of intimate partner homicide didn't feel their partner was capable of it and that while most murders of this kind are part of a pattern of serve domestic violence, the obsessional jealous/dependent type (very much her husband) is the most likely to resort to murder without that history. Oh he is also a 6'7 problem drinker and owner of a large gun collection....

    I am obviously trying not to be selfish about this and add to her problems but it has been hard at times to shield her from how much it's bothering me, which makes me feel extremely guilty. I am not sure what i am looking for posting this? Any thoughts or her situation or how i'm dealing with it and supporting her would be received with tremendous gratitude.

  2. #2
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    i hear what youre saying, for you.

    cant really give input on her situation - first its not our place, kinda unethical, and second we can only gauge what he's saying/doing based on what you said shes saying. three steps away from origin, plenty of room for misinterpretation. one of the reason we got the guideline about speaking of ourselves only.

    however, i totally hear what youre saying about yourself, that you worry about her safety and yet have no way to ensure it. sounds like you done all you could - you told her youre worried, explained why, gave her contact info of organizations that can help, idk what else is there that you could do tbh. could just ask her if theres anything else you could do for her? btw, it could also be that you dont know the whole story, she might be in contact with those organizations and/or lawyers already, just not updating you on it. could also be the opposite, that shes not in contact with nobody cuz hes abusing her more than you know and shes fearing for her life and/or for the life of her kids. it IS a very stressful arrangement for supporters, when you wanna help but cant and arent even sure you know the whole story.

    i dont think its selfish to accept the fact that you have no control over what happens. cuz, i mean, you dont. got an example: i have this friend whos constantly suicidal. during good times its 1-2 attempts per month, during bad times it can be more than one attempt per day, including the times while they're in ICU. suicide comes up in conversations at least once a day. ive known them for seven or eight years, and its hard to accept that they'll probably kill themselves one day, even if the attempts arent meant to be lethal, just these activities are likely to result in an accident sooner or later. but, i mean, i have no control over it. i gave them all sorts of links and numbers, googled up some therapists for them, am available to talk most of the time if they need to, do call 911 each time they mention being in the middle of an attempt - theres nothing else i can do here. its ultimately up to them, not up to me. their life, their choice. i might disagree with the choices they make, but its still their right to make these choices... helps me somewhat to just think of it like of cancer or car accidents or such: we all are mortal, everyone is gonna die one day. its painful to think of these things, but its true, is just how world works. for my friend the chances of dying within the next year are higher than for me, but its just statistical probability; it could be that i get hit by a car tomorrow and they live till retirement. gotta accept the reality of the situation, and enjoy however much time i got with them. not trying to be depressing and cold, just sharing what helps me find peace with such situations. welcome to discard if it doesnt work for you
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    weepingwillow (12-07-2015)

  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manya View Post
    cant really give input on her situation - first its not our place, kinda unethical, and second we can only gauge what he's saying/doing based on what you said shes saying. three steps away from origin, plenty of room for misinterpretation. one of the reason we got the guideline about speaking of ourselves only.

    I am so sorry and should have given a more careful reading of the guidelines before posting, my humble apologies.

    The thing is- i'm the only one who knows about her situation (by her own admission) her family know they've had problems and are separated but she does not know how to broach the subject of abuse with them i don't think?

    I'm flattered that she feels comfortable confiding in me but it feels like kind of a big responsibility being the only one who knows, you know? I think she is still coming to terms with everything and hopefully will reach out to others including support organisations in time.

    Your situation with your friend sounds horrendous, really sorry to hear about it. My lady friend can worry a lot about my mental health issues which can be debilitating - despite my attempts to shield her from that. I feel like she's always been into the idea of healing a troubled damaged guy via love and i have always had a soft spot for the idea of saving a damsel in distress and we're mutually finding out it isn't as easy as in stories.... we can't save each other, just support and build each other till we can save ourselves.

    I don't want to make it sound like a toxic downer of a relationship, there's much more good times than bad and i try and focus on the fact that even if my worse fears come true - no one can ever take those moments from us. I fight for that. I do have a lot of faith in her, she comes off timid but she is independent minded and stubborn about pursuing her happiness- and is a cheerful optimistic soul at the core of it. I am in awe of her strength holding on to the person she is through years of being squashed down by him.

  5. #4
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    Tasha1701D is offline Fort Security Chief & Stargazer
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    Was reading, and some things like wanting to save the other person reminded me of some relationships I've had, whether while still in an abusive situation or after I was out. Those relationships ended up being negative for me, cuz they were also kinda "special", like the relationship between my abuser and me. Once I came to Fort, I read an article in Fort's library that was written for those supporting someone after abuse, but I found it so helpful for me, cuz it kinda helped me understand why I kept ending up in "special" types of relationships over and over again. During the abuse, I was in an unequal relationship, someone who claimed to know what I was feeling, thinking, what I needed, what I was supposed to be doing, what kind of life I was supposed to live.

    After I got out, I struggled to pick up the pieces of my "life" and create something coherent. It was lots easier for me to go to what I knew, with people around me claiming to want to "save" me or "redeem" me or other such things. I knew this world and this life, I didn't know the life where I was building something for myself. I had shut down during the abuse, and I didn't really know how to stop being shut down. I didn't know or didn't want to use my own mind. I was still extremely vulnerable to those who would take over or think they knew what was best for me, etc. I ended up in lotsa negative situations cuz of that vulnerability. I did learn lots of things, but what I learned was painful and sometimes hard to come to terms with.

    What I've found helpful is when my friends/family/supporters are separate people, not enmeshed in each others emotions and problems and lives. We both have our separate interests, abuse and trauma aren't the only topic we talk about, nor the majority of what we talk about, and not what our relationship is based on. To be honest, I tend to resent it when someone is seeing me as a damsel in distress and wants to save me, cuz that automatically creates an unequal relationship between us, and it reminds me of the relationship I had when I was abused, cuz my relationship with the person who abused me was also unbalanced and unequal. I think that's part of why I was so drawn to those types of relationships at first--I was just recreating what was familiar and what I knew how to navigate.

    I guess the most helpful thing for me has been when people treat me pretty normally, and like Manya mentioned about her friend, just accepting that I have my own choices and giving me the space to make them while being reasonably available should I need an ear or if I just need to do something "normal" that's not trauma related. Doing "normal" things like going to the movies, having dinner, etc, provided me with much needed stability and the possibility to see what things can be like without constant fear, anxiety, etc. It also helped me when I wasn't the sole focus of someone's attention, when those who were supporting me through my recovery had other interests besides my trauma and recovery. I found that when I was the sole focus, I had too much pressure and responsibility for someone's feelings, and that shot me back to my abusive situation, where I was responsible for the actions of the person abusing me, where I caused them to abuse me, etc. I guess what really helped me the most was when those who were supporting me had a balance in their lives, I wasn't the be all and end all of their day or their focus.

    Hope that things improve. There are more articles in the Fort library about supporting others. I've found them a very interesting and helpful read.
    ~Tasha

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    weepingwillow (12-07-2015)

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    i hear you about being the only one aware of the situation and not wanting the sole responsibility for the outcome. but youre not responsible. i understand you see the relationship as abusive and are concerned that a crime might be committed at some point and wanna let somebody know, get her some help, cuz your support isnt enough to save her, unfortunately - but nobody can help unless she asks for it: hes not physically violent, not making threats, they arent even living together, so its totally her call to make, nobody will interfere against her will, shes an adult, entitled to making choices for herself. i mean, you're welcome to contact law enforcement, if youre concerned and it would make you feel better, but if she denies theres a problem - police will go with her story, not yours. its a sad and stressful situation all around, i totally hear you on this. for you.
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  8. #6
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    Thank you so much for the reply Tasha, and for sharing your perspectives and the resources.

    You're entirely right of course, the whole thing is really shattering any pretensions i had toward the whole "damsel in distress" thing- she's the hero in her story and i only humbly hope to be a supportive sidekick on her journey to happiness. She deffo very visibly wears the scars of years of walking on eggshells with an excessive agreeableness but she is a woman who deffo knows her own mind and who follows her own path.

    Our relationship didn't start with talk of abuse, i just thought she was leaving an unhappy marriage and only gradually did it come out how abusive it had been or how unwilling to let go of the relationship her husband was.

    I deffo need to work on not making my life all about her too- as i said in my OP i've been quite isolated for a while with my m/h and economic situation and obviously this kind, beautiful and hilarious woman's interest in me turn my head a bit upside down and finding out what she's been/going through deffo made that more intense. I think we need to work on using each other's support in order to fuel us with the other things in our lives not let it be a bubble we escape from them in? If that makes sense- we both have some way to go toward wellness.

  9. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manya View Post
    nobody can help unless she asks for it: hes not physically violent, not making threats, they arent even living together, so its totally her call to make, nobody will interfere against her will, shes an adult, entitled to making choices for herself..
    You're very right of course- i guess the crunch will come when she makes the final break for divorce and how badly he reacts to that. I'd like to think in that circumstance she will reach out for support and teach every precaution- i know she wouldn't take chances with her children.

    It's like a ticking clock waiting for it all to go off though, i suppose. He's certainly not going to give up without a fight, it seems.

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    Wanted to add that you may be way more help to her than you are realizing. I've had times when the most helpful thing, the only light at the end of the tunnel, was that I had people that would listen to me when I needed to talk. No judgment, no pushing me to come up with a solution, no frustration directed at me about what I was doing or not doing that they felt I should. Sounds like this is basically what you are trying to do for her, and while it doesn't seem like anything it's a huge something. It's easy to forget when you're the one listening, I know I do sometimes.

    for you.
    "You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." -- Robin Williams
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    Manya (12-07-2015)

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