Thursday, July 29, 2004


Dear Rabbitch ...

Q. Dear Rabbitch: My friend used to live with a man who was violent. I don't know if he ever broke any bones (I think a couple of cracked ribs maybe), but he tried to choke her at least twice and threw glassware and -- get this -- furniture at her when they had fights. In front of their kids. She left him, got herself some education, a job, and bought her own home.

Good for her, you say? Yes, indeedie; however, they've been battling over visitation and custody and child support payments, as these things go. To put it mildly, he's been blocking and aggravating her at every turn; he's been doing anything he can to hurt her through her kids. Typical bullshit. She's running out of money for legal fees and he's wearing her down.

Tonight, two years after leaving to save her life, she tells me out of the blue that she still loves him and is going to try to work things out with him so that they can live together again and that it would be 'better for the kids'. In one breath she tells me that he has to 'work on his stuff' because the violence is no longer an option, and then in the next that she is scared to let her kids go there alone for visits, as ordered by the court, in case he's beating his new girlfriend in front of them. If she gets him to break up with the girlfriend and take her back, the kids will be safer because she'll be 'there to protect them'.

My question is, how can I stand by and watch someone who I thought was a tough, ballsy lady, ~beg~ a man who threw a heavy wooden nightstand at her during an argument and choked her in front of her infant to take her back and more than likely beat her some more in front of her kids who are now old enough to both understand what's going on and remember it for the rest of their lives?

Please answer fast, okbye.

A. Dear Guish: If that's what she chooses to do, you have to stand by and let her do it, although expressing doubts might be a friendly sort of thingie to do. That being said, if she actually succeeds in her insane plan to revictimize herself (no, I don't know if that's a word but it works for me so shut up), you can't just stand by.

You. May. Not. You have a moral and, in Canada, a LEGAL obligation to report this to the Ministry of Children and Family Development. It's one thing if she decides to return to her abuser, it's another to have small children reintroduced to a volatile and violent environment. It's called emotional abuse. It's illegal. You have to report it.

Q. But she's my friend and ...

A. No. You can't. Even if it loses you a friend, you can't. You gotta report it and let the Ministry take it from there.

Q. What if I hired someone to rub him out?

A. That would be acceptable, yes. More than likely advisable.

Gah! You can see the sort of day I've had. You may also have seen through my thin disguise. I admit it, I'm "Guish". No, I'm not the person who had heavy furniture thrown at her because she'd burned the meatloaf or whatever the transgression was that time. Fucker'd be buried in eighteen different locations if he'd tried that on me. I've never had a boyfriend or husband hit me yet and I don't think Ben's planning on it any time soon. I may be small, but he's smart enough not to try it.
(And also far too decent a human being, I hasten to add, just in case he's reading this *g*.)

She's a fairly recent friend, maybe a year or so. A pretty good friend, though. I couldn't believe it when she told me that tonight. I mean, what do you say? I told her flat out that I thought it was the worst possible decision that she could make for herself or for her children. I didn't threaten her with being reported to the Ministry. I'm just hoping that if she approaches him he refuses her suggestion.

Otherwise I guess I lose me a friend and maybe save a couple of kids from being all fucked up by their parents, so that they can go and be all fucked up in the foster care system ...

Don't you just wish you were me right now?

unable to be
amusing tonight

Addendum: Yes, I realize this isn't about me, it's about her and her kids, so don't write and tell me I'm a selfish bitch, k?

How awful!!! I don't envy your situation, but you will be doing the right thing if it comes down to calling the authorities. I am often amazed at the thought processes of many women out there. "You want this why?" Love is no excuse. Those children should be everything no matter how hard he's making her life. Don't beat up on yourself, K?
Wow, I'm so sorry for you. I can't even imagine how you will handle this. I'll never get the images of my mom and "the asshole that was living with us" physically fighting. It wasn't anything bad choking or throwing furniture, but there was hitting, biting, screaming and being thrown around I do remember. I don't see how a court would allow them to even see their dad unsupervised anyway, unless they just don't know about the abuse. Ugh....please keep us posted.
I think she may not have claimed abuse when they had the custody hearing. I know she thinks that he would never hurt his kids, but "hurting" takes more forms than just hitting them. Hitting her hurts them too. I think she will try to keep this secret, but there are police reports and she has told more than just me. It's all gonna have to come out this time.
Okay, Rabbitch, maybe you don't lknow this about me (or maybe you do). For years, I was a DV counselor (volunteer, but trained and certified) in 2 different states (US).

You have an obligation. You may lose a friend, but you will save a life. It's highly unlikely that he will "get over it." And it WILL escalate. How the hell much worse can it get??

Dead. Woman. Kids.

That's how much.

The statistic that I remember most vividly is that the average victim leaves 18 times before she gets out for good. Or dies.

She's out. She needs to stay out. Has she ever confifded in a counselor? sought medical treatment for injuries? thought to take pictures? It's time to bring out the big guns.

If you aren't sure, hie thyself to the nearest library and look at the purty pictures in the books on child abuse. When you are done puking and crying, get back to me.

Read again -- I said I'd report if she went back to him and I shall do so. I can't stop her from going back, although I told her several times that it was a horrible choice. What I ~can~ and will do is get the Ministry involved. Maybe if they step in, she'll wake up. If not, at least the kids will be out of it.
I sought only to emphasize what you had already decided.

Frustration, sadness, and a physical move are what made me get out of that particular line of volunteering.

I misunderstood -- my apologies. I think the hitman option really is the best one ...
Tough situation. If you have knowledge of the children being abused, you need to call. In the states, living with a domestic abuser is not grounds for investigating child abuse. There has to be clear evidence of the child being abused. Emotional abuse is hard to prove, here, and the PS workers won't even take a call on it unless there is already a open file (which you won't know if there is/isn't).

Your friend is in the most direct danger. Sometimes these personality types don't hurt the children directly because the children serve as positive mirrors for their narcissism. They are "feel good" things.

I am very concerned for this woman's safety. If she returns to him, he will perceive her as being weak and that he won. Bad bad bad news.

Sorry to be such a bummer...but I've been there from several directions.
I think your assessment is astute, Marcia. Basically she is going to beg a man who abused her to take her back and abuse her again. I don't think I can help her unless she asks me to do so.

I've looked up the child protection laws, and it would seem that under our laws that if a child witnesses abuse, that that child is also being abused. It seems to me that if she goes back into that toxic situation and takes her children with her, that she is in the untenable situation of being the abused and also being the abuser. I'm in anguish over this, as I care for her, but I just can't let her take her kids back into a situation where they will witness furniture being thrown at their mother.

And so yes, if she goes back there, I'm gonna make the call.
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