Author Topic: Is this woman being abused?  (Read 3038 times)

calimom

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Is this woman being abused?
« on: July 19, 2017, 10:40:00 PM »
Backstory: I've arranged my work schedule this summer to 3 days. Instead of sending my just-turned-11 daughter to day camp this summer, she spends 2 days with my aunt, who treats my kids like extra grandchildren. She's lovely and child oriented, but it's not terribly fun and stimulating for my daughter. On the other day, it was arranged in May, she spends with a friend from her school. They have a great time together, doing art, putting on shows, young tweendom activities. This family also has an 8 year old boy, and I've offered to take both for the evening, or the DD for an overnight. These offers have been rebuffed, with responses such as "DH likes the kids at home at night", and "we don't really go out"  OK, fine. I generally drop my daughter off with things like a fruit salad or homemade cookies. lMy own son has outgrown trains, and had some books and things I've passed along to the son in this household, along with some very gently used outgrown shirts. I am very appreciative of this extra help.

So, today..at about 4PM I went to pick up my daughter. The girls were playing in the small above ground pool. The mom offered me a glass of iced tea, which I gratefully accepted and we sat and chatted for a bit, like people do. She is always curious about my day and my work, and I offered up a few anecdotes, and we were having a pleasant visit. She's kind and timid.

The DH came home from work. The DD got out of the pool, dried off and put a t shirt on, instructing my own daughter to do the same. The DS kind of hopped to, saying "I cleansed the rabbit cages and made my bed". The DH went to inspect his work. Satisfied, he came into the kitchen where the mom and I were sitting at the table. He asked if she had called "blah blah insurance blah blah" and she responded that she had left a message. Then he asked in a very direct tone, if she had fed the dog yet. The dog, a dachshund puppy, apparently has health issues and must be fed numerous times per day. She said she hadn't but would get to it soon. The dog in question was quite happily scampering about with the children and showing no distress. The DH then asked, "is this what you do all day, just sit around?" This is a woman who's entertained 3 children, sitting in a clean house for a few minutes. She didn't respond; she was embarrassed I think and got up and started bustling around the kitchen. I did a "hey look at the time! We need to go pick up your brother!" - directed at my own daughter, and we left.

There are just a couple of weeks left of this arrangement, my daughter is going to a sleep away camp for a week, and I'm not concerned about her wellbeing, I'd be out of there in a heartbeat if I was. But I do worry about this mom and  her kids. Today's episode was the most pronounced, but I witnessed something similar a couple of weeks ago. The mother does not show any signs of physical abuse (black eyes or anything of that nature), but she and the kids seem to cower when he's around. I get that people get stressed and you can't know what's inside the relationships of others, but is this woman and her children being emotionally abused? Based on the limited information I've given, what say you all? Besides being a kind mom-friend, there's really nothing more I can do, is there?

Chippewa

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2017, 11:22:52 PM »
I would say there are red flags in that situation. I would suggest calling a DV hotline to see what they think and for solid advice on how to approach if needed.
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LeRainDrop

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2017, 12:38:38 AM »
I agree with Chippewa.  What you describe here would cause me concern that the husband is overly rigid, controlling, possibly abusive.

Kris

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2017, 05:51:20 AM »
Yes. Agree with others to call.
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Lis

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2017, 01:50:36 PM »
Agreed with all of the above! The hotline isn't just for victims of DV, it's for concerned friends and family as well!

jezebel

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2017, 02:39:31 PM »
I agreed that it's a terrible thing to say to your spouse but I don't know if I would make the leap to DV.  Maybe I'm naive?

Warlord1986

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2017, 02:55:12 PM »
I would say there are red flags in that situation. I would suggest calling a DV hotline to see what they think and for solid advice on how to approach if needed.

Listen to Chippewa.

Either way, the guy sounds like a piece of work.

Fireball

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2017, 09:21:28 AM »
Sounds like the guy is a jerk and has very high expectations of his wife & kids (i.e. over bearing). Just making that remark in front of a 3rd party(you) indicates he's a giant a-hole.  While that's certainly not how I try to be with my family, I don't think I would classify it as abuse.  Based on the information you have so far I would stay out of it.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 09:28:02 AM by Fireball »

DoubleDown

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2017, 04:20:00 PM »
Yeah I agree the guy clearly sounds like a total dick, no doubt controlling and an authoritarian asshole.  But absent any actual evidence of physical abuse, I don't see any kind of agencies getting involved. Nothing described in this post rises to the level of outside intervention (not that physical abuse couldn't be present, but there's no evidence for it in the open so far).

My advice, if you can find it in yourself to continue caring and take this on, is to stay in contact with this woman. Be a friend to her, continue to socialize with her and have those friendly and useful chats, and let her know you are there for her (and her kids). If you have gained her confidence, you could ask her in non-threatening ways things like, "Is everything okay?" Or, "Sometimes it seems you are stressed out when your husband gets home, is everything all right?" If she shares any further info, you could then recommend her to some outside, professional assistance. If she demurs, I'd just reinforce telling her, "Okay, well if you ever do need anything, make sure to let me know." Keep doing this every once in a while if she continues to show distress.

By staying in her life, you'll be able to keep an eye on things and be a rock to cling to if she ever needs it. And if you ever do witness anything that suggests physical abuse, then you can really take further action.
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frugal rph

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2017, 04:37:21 PM »
I was this woman a few years ago. Please don't do anything her husband will find out about unless you are certain authorities will take action against him (such as if you are a witness to physical abuse and he will be arrested). What I needed in that situation were friends who ignored what a jerk my ex is when he was around. One friend tried to stand up for me to her, and he cut me off from seeing her for a year. The most helpful thing was friends who let me talk or cry when I wanted to but didn't pressure me to do anything about it.  I finally got out when my older child made me realize how the situation was affecting his life.  Your friend already knows her marriage is terrible.  Please support her by trying to stay in her life.  I'm not sure how I would've gotten out without my career, and it sounds like this woman is a stay at home mom.

SwordGuy

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2017, 05:03:00 PM »
Legally I suspect he's in the clear with the evidence as presented.

In reality, yeah, she needs to leave him. 

Assuming he's not *already* much worse, he's extremely likely to get much worse.

I suggest learning what people can do and when you're alone with her, tell her about a friend you had that you helped out.   The discussion would just be about your friend, not her.   Totally innocent, just making conversation...


thesvenster

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2017, 05:26:45 PM »
Let's go over what actually happened here: DH came home, was unhappy because something didn't get done, and made a jerkish remark. Sounds like they probably have some stuff to work on in their marriage, but abuse? C'mon.

Cali Nonya

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2017, 05:34:09 PM »
The best thing you can do is be a friend.

surfhb

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2017, 11:50:21 PM »
Let's go over what actually happened here: DH came home, was unhappy because something didn't get done, and made a jerkish remark. Sounds like they probably have some stuff to work on in their marriage, but abuse? C'mon.

Jerkish remark?   Shit!  If I said something like this to my SO , she'd leave me the next day!   

I'd be willing to bet this is just the tip of the iceberg for this asshole's behavior

LeRainDrop

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2017, 11:59:50 PM »
Let's go over what actually happened here: DH came home, was unhappy because something didn't get done, and made a jerkish remark. Sounds like they probably have some stuff to work on in their marriage, but abuse? C'mon.

Jerkish remark?   Shit!  If I said something like this to my SO , she'd leave me the next day!   

I'd be willing to bet this is just the tip of the iceberg for this asshole's behavior

It's not just the fact that he said some jerkish remarks. The fact that he said them and acted that way IN FRONT OF calimom, someone who's barely acquainted with him, signals to me that his perception of what behavior is okay or not is WAY out of whack. I think it's more common for couples to have cross words or disagreements with each other behind closed doors, but to put it right out in the open is sort of a startling lack of discretion. No, it certainly doesn't prove that he's an abusive husband -- he might not be! -- but the original advice to contact the DV Hotline and get their advice is great. The hotline can help calimom learn ways to approach and talk with the wife that could be most supportive or least intrusive, depending on how receptive the wife is to calimom's initial talks.

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2017, 07:02:27 AM »
There are certainly signs of unhealthy relationships in your friend's family, and possibly also of organisational abuse (inflexible and non-negotiable systems and routines, name calling; inappropriate ways of addressing people).

If you can, continue to be a friend to this woman.  Stay in touch.  Perhaps model (and talk about) what you think are appropriate spousal relationship behaviours, so that your friend has a "normal" example to compare her own situation to.  And perhaps talk about potential safe ways out of an abusive relationship (eg you are donating to the local women's shelter, you can let her have the number to call to arrange to donate children's clothes and toiletries, etc.).
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calimom

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2017, 05:55:33 PM »
Thanks, all, for the feedback. I was hesitant about taking any kind of action, but did take a look at our county's DV website. Reports can only be taken when there is actual physical abuse. It doesn't seem that dickish, controlling behavior fits in that rubric, which is more or less understandable.

I'm proceeding with having my daughter spend some time there with the plan of  picking her up before the dad gets home. And being friendly to the mom in whatever way I can be.

Cassie

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2017, 06:03:40 PM »
This poor woman needs all the friends she can get. Be supportive and listen to her but in the end there is nothing more you can do. People can be very controlling and never touch a person.  They use verbal abuse, yelling, punishment to control.  I was a social worker at one time. 

Neal300

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2017, 07:18:55 AM »
I think you should go with your own decision.

purple monkey

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2017, 08:23:44 AM »
Not worth your child being exposed.

Don't bank on the dad not arriving early.

Yes, to your original answer.

Good luck.

justajane

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2017, 08:37:54 AM »
People are usually on their best behavior around strangers. If he says that around you, imagine what he says and does when no one is around.

Imma

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2017, 12:31:43 AM »
Let's go over what actually happened here: DH came home, was unhappy because something didn't get done, and made a jerkish remark. Sounds like they probably have some stuff to work on in their marriage, but abuse? C'mon.

You can't be sure, but there are several red flags. When the kids suddenly stop playing when dad gets home and act scared and show dad they really did their chores, it's a signal that when dad comes home, they expect some kind of punishment. That's not a normal association. Kids aren't supposed to be scared of their fathers and a normal dad who comes home to playing young children is happy to see their kids playing. The wife is apparantly nervous her own husband came back from work. If he behaves like that in front of complete strangers, you really don't want to know what he's like behind closed doors.

The way the wife and kids act in my language is called "behaving like a beaten dog". I think everyone can picture that. If you see people acting around other people like that, you know it's not right. It doesn't mean they are physically beaten, but emotional abuse leaves scars too. My own father was never extremely violent to us (he used corporal punishment, but within the legal limits at that time) but the emotional abuse was very bad.

I don't think you can do much more than stay in this woman's life and confidence. Especially if you feel she's isolated. Don't criticize her husband too harshly, especially not in his presence, because he will cut you off, but do tell her about your own husband and family life. She knows her husband is bad for her, but she doesn't know how bad, I can assure you that. For their kids is also really important to see what a healthy family life is like.

hoping2retire35

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2017, 07:48:31 AM »
Well, hard to say what is really going on from your one observation; harder for us to say from your post. Best advice is like others said just be a friend as long as you think you and daughter are safe; maybe you will learn more.

It is either;
1. Par for the course behavior
2. Much worse than anyone knows
3. Unusual behavior from him, things are normally better

Somewhat anecdotal;

I am very introverted and just socially exhausted by the time I get home from work. It takes me a while before I can do anything other than just give the kids a hug, but I hate guests on the weekdays; ie I will NOTdisplay my "best behavior" on purpose. So someone could see me angry and moody on a wednesday however I am normally very chill and mellow when not coming home from work. just saying it is something to consider.

edit; lots of typos too just realized this thread is a month old.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 12:53:13 PM by hoping2retire35 »

Laura33

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2017, 07:53:32 AM »
FWIW, my recommendation would be to not get caught up in figuring out whether it's "abuse" or not -- no matter what you call it, it's not acceptable, and you don't have to "prove" that it meets someone's definition of abuse before you have the right to be concerned.  100% agree with the "beaten dog" characterization -- I worked with an abusive boss, and the moment that clarified it for me was when I realized that all of my coworkers were acting like beaten dogs, totally cowed, doing their best to stay below the radar, stuck trying to satisfy someone who could never be satisfied, because it wasn't actually about them or their performance.

I agree that your friend needs a friend more than anything.  I also think that she needs you as an objective measure of "normal" -- I think when you are in that situation, your perspective gets warped, and you begin to think that it is completely reasonable for, say, DH to be upset that you didn't get to make a phone call or you inadequately cleaned something.  It's almost like being gaslighted, when you think you're being reasonable but are treated as though you are unreasonable/a failure, until you start to question yourself and finally just give up and go over to the dark side.  I think having that perspective of an outsider to remind her that this is not normal, and she is not crazy/demanding/stupid, and he is not reasonable, may be the best thing you can offer her.
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SisterX

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2017, 10:28:26 AM »
I have a friend who's finally getting divorced from her emotionally abusive ex. She knew his behavior was inappropriate and knew that it was abusive but, like your friend (I think) she was/is a SAHM. Her youngest is severely disabled and will never be able to take care of himself, so she was hesitant to leave. She also can't yet get a job, as the youngest isn't old enough for school yet and the cost of daycare for him would eat up the salary of any job she could get, let alone housing and food, etc.

What prompted her to finally kick him out was that he started taking out his anger on the kids. Again, not physically, but really emotionally manipulative and abusive. (BTW, this is how my friend was raised. Her dad is basically the same as the jerk she married.) Once he did that, he'd crossed a line in her mind. She figured that she could take it but the kids shouldn't have to.

However, she also had financial support from family. Her parents decided that they could help pay for housing and food costs for her and the kids. I'm helping out by paying her to babysit my daughter three days a week, and letting her know that if she ever needs help I'm available. (I helped her pack up to move.) She's also doing some freelancing as she has time/energy, so she's not just dependent upon others, but it's hard. If she didn't have all the support, both emotional and financial, I think she'd still be with that asshole. She thought at one point she'd have to take him back because there was no way to support the family (before her parents stepped up) and she was a sobbing wreck.It had taken so much out of her to send him packing the first time, she wasn't sure how she'd handle having him back or if she'd ever have the courage to get rid of him again when she was finally in a place where she could.

I'm not sure that I have any specific advice for your situation, but sometimes being there for a person as a support is crucial. She might very well realize how messed up her situation is (or at least have an idea of how bad things are) but feel like there's no way out. Let her know that she's not alone, that she has support and options. Even if you never say anything outright, that will mean a lot.

calimom

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2017, 09:52:48 PM »
OP here. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful responses and insights. Our informal arrangement ended a couple of weeks ago and my daughter had camp the past week. To clarify, at no time did I feel there was any danger to her in this household. The mother and her kids are lovely, warm people.

There was a back to school event today, and I ran into the mom. We briefly hugged and I again expressed my appreciation for having my child visit her home over the summer. She said they all enjoyed it and it was no problem. It's hard to know what happens in the relationships of others and I'm certainly no expert. My own husband died just over ten years ago and I've been raising kids on my own since then. Most concerning to me in this situation - aside from the crappy talk I witnessed from the husband - is the forced isolation he seems to decree. Who doesn't let their kids visit the homes of other families? It boggles. I'll continue on with being friendly and accessible, which may or may not have any impact.

SisterX, what a story. So glad your friend found a way to forge a new life for herself and her children. A special need child too. Respect. You're a good friend to offer support and income for her, and also great to hear she has a supportive family. It helps so much. I hope she feels all the love and support she has as she moves forward. Best to her and her kids.

Laura33

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2017, 08:32:38 AM »
OP here. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful responses and insights. Our informal arrangement ended a couple of weeks ago and my daughter had camp the past week. To clarify, at no time did I feel there was any danger to her in this household. The mother and her kids are lovely, warm people.

There was a back to school event today, and I ran into the mom. We briefly hugged and I again expressed my appreciation for having my child visit her home over the summer. She said they all enjoyed it and it was no problem. It's hard to know what happens in the relationships of others and I'm certainly no expert. My own husband died just over ten years ago and I've been raising kids on my own since then. Most concerning to me in this situation - aside from the crappy talk I witnessed from the husband - is the forced isolation he seems to decree. Who doesn't let their kids visit the homes of other families? It boggles. I'll continue on with being friendly and accessible, which may or may not have any impact.

SisterX, what a story. So glad your friend found a way to forge a new life for herself and her children. A special need child too. Respect. You're a good friend to offer support and income for her, and also great to hear she has a supportive family. It helps so much. I hope she feels all the love and support she has as she moves forward. Best to her and her kids.

FWIW, this is the classic tool of the abuser (which is also why this seemed to me more than "dad having a bad day").  Which is why the best thing you can do for her is to keep in contact with her as regularly as you can, especially if the kids get along and all.
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SisterX

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #27 on: August 16, 2017, 10:07:10 AM »
SisterX, what a story. So glad your friend found a way to forge a new life for herself and her children. A special need child too. Respect. You're a good friend to offer support and income for her, and also great to hear she has a supportive family. It helps so much. I hope she feels all the love and support she has as she moves forward. Best to her and her kids.

She's good people, as your friend sounds. Of course I want to help! And hey, my daughter gets to be with someone wonderful and caring who adores her, and what's not to love about that in a childcare situation?

I hope your friend, if she's really in the abusive situation it sounds like might be the case, is able to have an equally happy ending. And I'm glad you're there for her.

KBecks

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2017, 10:38:59 AM »
Yesterday my husband told me "I don't know what you do all day."   And sometimes I get comments as he leaves -- do this, and do that, and when he comes home he wants a report of did you do X?   

Just to let you know that this happens.  My husband had a bad day yesterday and was feeling sorry for himself, and he's also very jealous that I stay at home with the kids while he "works hard" for 8 hours.   The dad was probably jealous that the mom was having a good time.

I think that some stay at home moms of older children get crap and pressure from working Dads to go back to work, or to have an immaculate home, or to otherwise prove their worth in the household.

Not all guys have great social skills. I would not jump to the conclusion of abuse, but her husband may be an ass with a bad attitude.  It is fine if you want to be friends with just her and the daughter. 

Cassie

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2017, 01:43:16 PM »
KBecks, would he have grilled you with those questions if you had company over?  That and the fact the child felt a need to clean up means something unhealthy is going on.

rocketpj

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Re: Is this woman being abused?
« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2017, 10:24:22 AM »
I'm a male and have never been in an abusive relationship, but my sister certainly was at one point.  Stay connected to her, let her know that you are available to her.

A single instance might not tell the whole story, but if it is repeated then you are likely correct - there is probably something going on.


I don't think I know anyone in an abusive relationship, but I think we can all help by donating to the local women's shelters.  I've been doing it for years, because it needs to happen.  Especially by us men who try not to be assholes.