How I Lost A Friendship To Domestic Violence

August 20, 2012  |  

Standing about two feet away from Sue, D-bag walked around her, surveying her outfit tugging at her clothing. It was the sort of inspection you expect from someone purchasing a new vehicle, not a person, for whom you claim you have love for.  But while Sue remained quiet, I certainly could no bite my tongue. I started honking the horn and yelling expletives out the window. He called me a man-hater; I called him a woman beater. He pulled her to the side, whispered something in her ear and then went in the house, watching us from the screen door. Once safely inside the vehicle, I notice that her lips were trembling and red in the face, I figured from embarrassment. I asked her what he said to her just now. “He told me that I looked a mess and that I need to get my hair done.” I was livid. I spent the rest of the ride to the club pleading, trying to reason with my friend that in no way shape or form was this a healthy relationship. She spent most of the ride, ignoring me.

After we left the club, we walked back to the car and noticed something on my windshield. It was a note from D-bag, reminding Sue how much trouble she was in for staying out past her given curfew. I felt a chill run down my spine. This mofo followed us to the club. I immediately popped the truck, pulled out the heaviest weaponry I could find. It was “the Club,” an anti-car theft device. That night, it was going to be an anti-stalker boyfriend device. I waved it in the air, screaming that I would bash his head in. Up the street, I saw car lights come on. The same car made a U-turn and then peeled off down the street. It was him. We drove home nervously and mostly quietly. We arrived at her house; D-bag was sitting calmly on her front steps. I pleaded with her to call the police. She pleaded with me not too. That everything was okay. After five minutes of going back and forth, I reluctantly obliged. That night, I went home angry – at him and at Sue.

Two years after that incident, I, along with another one of our close girlfriends, were besieged almost weekly with phone calls of D-bags similar style crazy antics. And as good girlfriends we listen but also tried to convince her to leave him alone. Sometimes we were in tears. She said she would. Sometimes she did but was right back in the frays a day or two later. After a while, our feelings of sympathy towards our friend turned into anger. We figured that if she was not going to leave him, we would make him leave. We confront the D-bag; threaten him, called the cops on him and even almost coming to blows with him outside of her mom’s house. Nothing worked. She would tell us that despite it all, he was a good guy. He just had troubles and that he was trying to change. That she knew we were right but she had to stick it out for the kid.  All the while, Sue continued to submit to his abusive and controlling behavior. And then the second child came, born right before D-bag was set to marry another woman, whom he had been seeing for only six months. Sue was devastated but she still continued to let him in every time he came calling.

After fifteen years of playing witness to this situation, we girlfriends decided we had enough.  Our love for her, and in turn her love for him, was turning into resentment. Sue became the topic of regular whispers and became a regular topic of conversation every time we went out. We openly ridiculed and mocked her for being stupid and foolish. In retrospect, we probably weren’t helping But it was truly out of frustration. I mean, at this point, what else could we do? This was well beyond our scope of understanding. As far as we were concerned, he was dangerous and she needed serious help. But all of our pushing made her want to stick with him even more, which hurt us and thus made us even more resentful. Eventually she stopped taking our calls and we stopped calling.

Through that situation, I learned that it’s not our role as concerned family members and friends to rescue a victim who doesn’t want to be rescued. As hard as it was to watch her suffer, we should have trusted Sue that she knew this situation best and that she would leave, when the time was right for her. Even the Domestic Violence Hotline advises that friends and relatives of abuse victims fall back and only offer support, not judgment.

After almost five years of not talking, I would see my friend at a work-related event I was hosting. Everything about her looked the same, except for her round belly. She was expecting again. I was curious but not wanting to rehash old wounds, I didn’t ask. Instead, we hugged and started talking about everything else, except the elephant in the room. We then said our goodbyes and went on with on respective paths.  Too much time had passed. Too many hurt words and feelings. To this day, I have idea what became of their relationship, if she had left him or not.  But I can’t get over the guilt of the loneliness she must have felt that at a time when she needed friends, we failed her. And because of it, I lost a very good friend.

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