View Full Version : Another serious advice thread.

12-12-2009, 02:28 PM
This may very well be one of those "there's nothing I can do" situations, but it's bothering me...so I'll ask.

My friend's wife is, no bones about it, abusive. Emotionally manipulative, controlling, browbeats him over everything. She flips out at him when he spends more than a few minutes (I'm not kidding) away from the house. If he wants to go out, she demands to know who he's going with, where, why, when he'll be back, and then she calls every 10 minutes (not exaggerating) while he's out. She alienates his friends, and is currently working on alienating us.

What I've personally witnessed could be argued either way between "abusive" and "Jesus, she's annoying". However, when he's around her, he's like an abused dog. He cowers. He barely speaks. He won't look anyone in the eye but her, and he looks terrified whenever she looks at him. Yesterday, he was at our apartment and she demanded that he come out in the parking lot to discuss something. When he came back, folks I am not shitting you, the man was shaking. He spoke very quickly, saying he had to go, but would see us later in the evening for something we'd previously planned. When we met up with him later on, he was fine, but when someone jokingly mentioned that he might need his wife's permission for something, he clammed up. He used to take it well when people ribbed him about being on a short leash, but lately, he just gets quiet.

I don't know what's going on behind closed doors, but one way or another, there is no doubt in my mind that she's abusive. Physically? Don't know. Emotionally? Abso-fucking-lutely. We've tried to talk to him, and I swear he gets scared just discussing it, as if she'll overhear it.

My husband is going to pull him aside at work and try to figure out what's going on. He's seriously considered getting their chain of command involved, but we're not sure if they can or will do anything, let alone anything that will actually help (that's a whole 'nother rant about his chain of command). I've asked him to get our friend over here and see if I can talk to him, but just getting him to our apartment can be a problem because of her.

We've told him straight out that this is NOT how a marriage should work. He sees how laidback we are - I "let" my husband go out, I don't keep him on a leash, etc - and thinks it's unusual. He brushes it off as "Well, she's ." I retorted with "And she isn't in [country] anymore, so I don't fucking care." He makes excuses, brushes it off, claims he's used to it, but the whole time he's telling us how it doesn't bother him that much, you can feel his blood pressure going up. Talks faster, hands shake, averts his eyes, etc.

I'm serious, it's so obvious, and I hate feeling this fucking helpless. I'm getting choked up just writing this because my friend is going through hell and there's nothing I can do about it. We've told him he's always welcome here, we're giving him a house key so he can get in even if we're not here, we've told him we're always here if he needs to talk...but it's getting worse and worse.

I suppose we could call the police. But there are two big problems with that:

1. We haven't witnessed anything that's actually grounds for arrest or police involvement.
2. My husband and our friend [I]ARE the police.

What do I do??

12-12-2009, 02:31 PM
I should add here that the only reason this bitch hasn' gotten an earful of tt42's patented ass-chewing is that I'm afraid of the backlash on him. I've got teeth marks in my tongue from keeping myself from letting her have it, and the only thing holding me back is my concern about what she'll do to him afterward.

12-12-2009, 03:50 PM
Abuse is abuse. Period.

First I think your husband pulling him aside and talking to him is a good thing. But I wouldn't be surprised if he denies everything or tries to make light of it. Many abuse victims can't admit there is a problem. They have the mentality that "they are they problem and the abuser can't help them self"

Proof of that is his "Oh she's-----nationality". Nationality is no excuse for being an abuser.

I would alert chain of command what is going on. If this woman is physically abusive it could end very badly. She could seriously injure or kill your friend or he might do the same to her in self-defense or rage. Chain of command may very well have the power to do more about the situation.

I have known women who have been viciously mentally and physically abusive. Chances are this woman sees nothing wrong with how she acts and to her the problem is everyone else.

I don't know if you could say anything to her that would open her eyes to her behavior and actions. She needs serious psychological help and perhaps by alerting chain of command she may have no choice but to get it.

Keep standing by your friend. He's going to need people by him who love and care for him

12-12-2009, 03:50 PM
I witnessed a similar situation a few years ago. A very sweet, very kind woman I knew had an absolutely horrid, mean husband. He constantly belittled her in public -- telling her that she was stupid, a horrible cook, fat, etc.. He actually did this in front of me the very first time I met him within 10 minutes of my arrival at their house!

Like you, I wanted to speak up, but feared that she would suffer the consequences. Instead, I decided to counter every nasty thing he said with something kind. He said: "She's a horrible cook, I can barely stand to eat her food." I said (VERY sweetly, of course): "Oh really? I had some of her cookies last week and they were absolutely delicious." He said to her: "Your ass is so wide you can barely get through the door." I said (laughing sweetly as if he had just said something innocent and funny): "Oh, ha, ha. You're a very lucky man, you know -- your wife is gorgeous." Etc....

By the end of the evening he had actually stopped the insults, and just sort of sat quietly. I have NO idea whether this made a difference for my acquaintance when she was alone with him, but after that I heard far fewer insults (at least while I was around).

Mr Flibble
12-12-2009, 03:51 PM
Blimey. Well, advice for a friend is going to be different than advice for a mother about her daughter but... I had a mate in a similar situation ( not as bad though). She wasn't abusing him, but by heck did / does she have trouble letting him out of her sight. While she wasn't actually ( as far as we know) abusing him that seemed little we could do. All we did do was note to him we were worried, encourage him to be more independent, plenty of um, bolstering, plenty of alluding to it with hubby saying 'Oh, well Ju would never do that and I'd be pissed if she did' until the glorious day when he actually stood up to her. Luckily now she's not half so bad, though she does still keep him close to home, but he seems much happier. Plus he's allowed out and she doesn't throw a shit fit if he doesn't ring her every three seconds.

This sounds way worse though. Usually I'd suggest talking to him, but you've tried that. I suspect that he won't talk because he finds it embarrassing ( especially if he's in the forces. All that macho macho stuff). If he really won't talk to you straight, then at least talk round it. A conversation about behaviour that you think is unacceptable in a relationship. Be subtle but clear. Yeah I know you've done this, but keep going. ( I always found a look of rank disbelief, coupled with a 'you've got to be kidding' with my mate when she did something outrageous worked well. You could see him thinking 'Yeah, maybe that's not right' rather than just accepting it. I did the same to her if she made any comments about it being normal). If you're there when she says / does something...you give her the look and make a subtle comment. You can be subtle, right? :D

Let him know that you think it's just as bad for men to be in this situation and that as far as you're concerned it's not anything to be ashamed of. Make sure he knows you're on his side and that if push comes to shove, you'll be there for him. Let the chain of command know if you think they'll help ( or are there any like marriage services or anything? Someone who might be able to help?). Other than that I'm not sure what else to suggest.

12-12-2009, 04:32 PM
Maybe you've read this, maybe not. IRU alluded to it- http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164916 . There are several takes, it doesn't absolutely fit the scenario that you are asking about, but there is a lot of interesting info. Anyway you look at it, it sounds abusive--mostly from her insecurity. I don't know how you make someone of a different nationality feel secure when they are away from family and culture.

12-12-2009, 04:40 PM
I always think these kinds of situations are so much harder for men in the sense there doesn't seem to be the support network that's available to women in that situation. I think you and your husband are doing a great job. If emotional abuse follows the same pattern when women are the abusers, and I see no reason why it wouldn't, your friend has maybe had all his self-esteem drained and can't see a way out of the situation. In that sense the relationship he hates becomes his crutch, because he can't imagine himself in any other position.

I think wrtaway's suggestion is brilliant - if you hear her belittling him, counter with something complimentary. It could make her back off, and hearing his friends being positive about him will hopefully help to boost his self-confidence. Make sure he knows he has a place to stay with you and your husband, and his support network's in place if he decides to leave. I have a friend in a similar situation and all we can do is tell him we love him and wait for him to say the word and we'll get him out of there. I wish you all well, and he's lucky to have such caring friends. :Hug2:

12-12-2009, 04:54 PM
Wow, my husband just went through a similar situation with one of his soldiers. He knew something was wrong with this Sgt, could tell, had taken him aside and asked, but the sgt. never said anything until his wife, with a long history of mental illness and violence, took out a knife and tried to kill him. She flipped, stabbed the wall 14 times, tried to stab him, hit herself repeatedly in the face, and hit him a lot too. The sgt and his wife had young children in the house too, and my husband told him that he had to get help, honestly, he had to or my husband was taking it to a heavier rank than his. It was so difficult for this sgt to reach out, because he didn't want to admit he was being abused, and he loved his wife and didn't want to air out her mental illness for all to see. My husband kept it pretty private, and the sgt was able to talk to his wife's psychologist about what had happened and such. And now the sgt knows, day or night, if this happens again, first, call the cops, second, call the psychologist and he will be there. It turned out his wife hadn't been taking her medication the way she should and was abusing alcohol, so she and the psychologist and her husband all had a meeting, and it is understood that if she starts slipping again, she will immediately be hospitalized. So far, things have gone well since.

It's hard for anyone to admit they are being abused, but it is exceptionally hard for a man to admit his wife is beating the shit out of him and scaring him. Keep reaching out to that soldier, keep talking to him. Don't let your husband give up on him, but also, don't dog his wife when you do talk to him, or he'll just become defensive, focus on him, how he feels, and mainly, just listen and once he admits it, then you can start talking about the steps that need to be taken.

Good luck to you and your husband. Don't give up on your friend. Let him know you aren't there to judge him or his wife, just to help him in any way you can.

12-12-2009, 06:30 PM
Abuse is abuse. Period.

First I think your husband pulling him aside and talking to him is a good thing. But I wouldn't be surprised if he denies everything or tries to make light of it. Many abuse victims can't admit there is a problem. They have the mentality that "they are they problem and the abuser can't help them self"

Proof of that is his "Oh she's-----nationality". Nationality is no excuse for being an abuser.


Its also much harder for men in this situation - in the sense of 'not talking'. Most men when it involves something personal like abuse, depression etc. don't talk about it while women often do. Theres a stigma of not being 'a man'.

Theres been some good advice in the thread but i seriously think an 'intervention' should be discussed. Your husband talking to him is a good idea, but i think like you said, he's in denial (i.e. she's xyz). You need to sit him down, let him know how much you all (and it might be good idea to contact family members) care/value him and tell him this is not normal behaviour. Ask him did any of his previous girlfriends treat him this way? would he tolerate it?

Make him connect the dots that this is not ok. His wife sounds extremely insecure in herself, he needs to realise HE is not the problem and that letting this continue will allow things to only get worse.

P.S. sometimes asking the simpliest questions can get the biggest answers. e.g. "are you happy?" - you'd be surprised how people respond to this question, and it might make him notice things.

*hugs* to him, you and your hubby - hope things work out

12-12-2009, 09:51 PM
The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women (DAHMW) (http://dahmw.org/)

12-12-2009, 10:17 PM
Hey Lori,
I quote what everybody else just said.
Talk to him, let him understand you are there to support him, he has a choice, he doesn't have to tolerate what she does and no matter what, your door will be always open.
It'll take time maybe, he doesn't see he's being abused as he'll be the weakest one then, but you need to be persistent with him.

12-12-2009, 10:28 PM
I'm taking a risk here to dare to post my thoughts and opinions yet again. I guess I'm just weird with my out of this world thoughts and opinions.

He should leave the marriage immediately and divorced her!

But I guess i'm so weird that I would want them to save their marriage, not become a statistic and work things out, perhaps go into counseling to see if his wife needs help with some sort of problem she has with herself. How dedicated are they to this marriage? It takes two people to make a marriage work, one cannot hold a marriage together on their own. If she doesn't want to work on herself and her marriage then why should he stay married to her? She has beat him down to a pulp now and has succumbed to the elements of his environment. They both sound like they need an intervention, him more than her at the moment. They both need a wake up call.

I wish the best in the situation.

12-13-2009, 04:28 AM
Thanks for the advice, all.

He's coming over tonight for something else, and we're going to have a talk with him. We'll see what happens...