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Ask Dr. NerdLove: Is My Friend Being Abused?

Ask Dr. NerdLove: Is My Friend Being Abused?

(Doctor’s Observe: at the moment’s letter offers with abusive relationships.)

Good day Doc,

I might normally dispense with the niceties and whatnot, but I really feel like I’m in the midst of a potential crisis.

The lengthy story made brief is that I’m a 23 yr previous man who had simply graduated from school with a bachelor’s, and there’s a feminine pal of mine  – “Annie” — who had lately turned 29 (though in the event you ask her, she’s round 32 but that’s a detail I’ll get to later).

I’ve grow to be more and more concerned about her, to place it frivolously. We’ve constructed up a fairly robust friendship over the course of nicely over a yr, nevertheless it looks like one thing has been very off over the previous few months.

I do know this because she was prepared to develop into good buddies as a result of she gave me her quantity to text her (before that, we have been DMing each other by way of Instagram). We’ve shared various comparable interests in nearly lots of subjects (ranging from our favourite films to specific types of artwork), in addition to beneficial each other numerous new issues to attempt. We’ve even vented to each other about our more private secrets and techniques.

But like I stated, it looks like there’s one thing rotten within the state of Denmark.

I observed that Annie wasn’t actually studying my messages or my DMs anymore plus her general activity on Instagram and Tumblr have been considerably decreased, so I decided to e-mail her. Some time in the past, I asked her (by means of e-mail in fact) if she would be capable of come to my graduation ceremony as well as let me keep over at her place (I graduated with honors and there was a cosplay convention on that very same weekend as my commencement, and the con was about a couple of hours from the place I reside).  I used to be truly sort of anticipating “no” as a result of she wasn’t used to individuals staying over at her place, nor was she the sort of individual to attend occasions with loud music and tons of people.

(Actually, neither am I, however commencement is just about a huge stepping stone that deserves commemoration).

The rationale why wasn’t what I anticipated at all. She declined each gives as a result of as of this writing, she has a fiancé that she’s been with for about three years now, and if her fiancé came upon that one other guy (even a male good friend) took her to an event or let him keep at her place, then in her personal actual phrases, “he would be significantly less than pleased… to put it lightly.” She then added that if her fiancé have been to seek out out that we had been messaging each other as much as we had been prior to now, then she can be pressured to block me from all social media.

This wasn’t the one strange conduct I’ve seen from her. She has talked about that she’s incredibly introverted and antisocial, however no less than once we have been talking extra, she would at the least take the time to speak when she was obtainable. Not the case anymore. In reality, she was completely prepared to offer me her number prior to now, however now it looks like she blocked my quantity for no apparent cause. She then DMed me on Instagram about that, making an attempt to brush it off as a bug on her telephone.

When another good friend of mine tried to succeed in out to Annie, to examine if this have been a probably abusive relationship, the she straight-up blocked them.

Lastly, her entire demeanor has grow to be a lot more… subdued, to say the least. I keep in mind once we have been texting until the wee hours of the night time (it helps that she’s an evening owl), she would get very emotional and really captivated with numerous subjects. Nowadays, her character seems to have just deflated right into a shadow of her former self. She’s approach less emotional now, and has develop into somewhat impersonal, virtually robotic.

I’ve talked to another pal who just lately acquired engaged , they usually stated that being engaged can come with less engagement with other individuals (especially on social media). Based on them, it does sort of come with the territory. I do figure that’s comprehensible, except this feels less “guess they can’t stop bangin’” and extra “blink twice if your soul is being held in a jar.”

Initially, I just disregarded all of this unusual conduct from her because she lately turned a business owner who works with several totally different nations (specifically China). Understanding that and her night time owl tendencies, I might understand why she can be less lively because I think about that it’s a very demanding job that requires several hours of commitment. I mean, we’re each adults right here, we both have real-world work to do.

In reality, I might even perceive her having a fiancé and would have in any other case backed off as a result of that type of relationship requires a particular type of commitment… if her fiancé in question hadn’t been displaying some critical pink flags.

I simply need to affirm that these are the truth is pink flags, and that I’m not going loopy:

– Annie telling me that her fiancé can be considerably less than pleased if any man (including a male pal) took her to an event or let a male pal stay at her place.
– Annie telling me that if her fiancé came upon we’ve been messaging one another as much as we had been up to now, then her fiancé would pressure her to have her block me from all types of contact
– Her abruptly turning into way more prepared to burn bridges with individuals, even with individuals she’s referred to as pals for years (I can’t affirm this, however it looks like she’s unfollowed extra pals who occurred to be abuse survivors)
– Her outright disappearing from all social media and types of contact (including her removing me from her Pokémon GO pals record for no obvious purpose); she mentioned she’s a business proprietor who works into the wee hours of the night time, however this disappearance is uncommon even for her (I imply, she’s a diehard Pokémon fan for life!)
– Her apparently changing her age on-line to be “older” than she truly is (she has a history of courting men older than she is because she apparently finds herself unable to connect with guys round her personal age, but this was properly before I came into the picture)

After she advised me about all of the things together with her fiancé and whatnot, I sent her a response e mail telling her concerning the potential purple flags their relationship is displaying, in addition to all the strange behaviors that she’s been exhibiting over the past couple of months.

I haven’t heard from her since.

Apparently sufficient, as of this writing, she hasn’t even unfollowed me on Instagram (she determined to comply with me after her account had gotten hacked by Russian spammers; that was cleared up within a matter of hours), not even after I despatched her that final e mail or after she blocked that good friend who reached out to her.

This isn’t like she’s just “unfamiliar” with abusive relationships prior to now; if anything, she has fairly a history with them. Apparently when she was roughly closer to my age a number of years in the past, she was in a particularly abusive relationship with a person who was about twice her age at that time. She doesn’t actually need to speak concerning the details, however it kind of left her impoverished as quickly as she left. Not too lengthy after that, she met another guy they usually started courting quickly after. This now-ex had psychologically and sexually abused her, including forcing her to take alcohol and arduous medicine to pressure her into caving in. Consequently, she ended up alienating individuals she cared about, did some things that have been uncomfortable and stranger for her, and developed C-PTSD consequently.

In any case of this, she even created a type of charity for abuse survivors and even creates hypnosis tapes for these survivors so as to help them recuperate (she’s a licensed hypnotherapist, full with degrees).

Additionally, I even did some asking around on on-line forums and chat rooms to be able to determine if her fiancé’s conduct was certainly turning into abusive, and the general consensus was just about “yes, the relationship is toxic AF and she should nope the fuck out of there ASAP.”

While all of this is perhaps dangerous enough, right here comes the half the place I fucked up. After her mentioning that she had a fiancé, I was in panic mode because of past friendships that may cease to exist as a result of that pal would immediately ghost me after that relationship had began (that’s one other story completely), and consequently, I let it slip that I used to be planning on asking her out sometime. At first, I saw her as someone that I might summon up the courage to ask out, however as time handed, I obtained to know her extra and noticed her as the great pal I now have, to the purpose where I merely forgot to ask her out.

Consequently, she received scared and put “romantically unavailable” on her Instagram bio (apparently because two other pals had tried to ask her out across the similar time; I truthfully didn’t find out about this till another good friend advised me).
Nevertheless, the number-blocking and deletion from her Pokémon GO pals listing happened approach before I let that slip out, so there’s no correlation right here.

In addition to, if she had been for fiancé for about that size of time, asking her out would have been a moot level back then.

I do know you’re going to summon the Chair Leg of Fact on me for this cardinal sin, but fuck it, I truthfully don’t care anymore as a result of at the start, she’s my good friend. I care about her as an individual, and I most definitely care about her safety (especially her security).

I suppose I might sum it up to that being an inconvenient crush, but who knows? But then once more, not understanding is part of the human expertise, isn’t it?

It’s simply that I actually assume she’s an superior individual, that’s it. In truth, she’s truly one of the few individuals I can truly speak to not nearly personal gadgets, but in addition about intellectually stimulating subjects in such a method that I really can’t with most other individuals.

Nevertheless, I am myself NOT ready for an additional relationship as a consequence of baggage that I gained’t get into right here (because then this will probably be a hell of so much longer than it must be). I don’t really feel emotionally prepared for it, is what I’m making an attempt to say. I even have plans to see a therapist to deal with this type of baggage. On prime of that, something like “getting into her pants” is NOT something I’ve considered in any respect, not when she could possibly be in potential hazard.

Apart from, it’s not like I can just drop her and move on with my life both, as a result of like I stated, her life might probably be in peril.

In any case, I’ve requested my different pals for recommendation on what to do about this, and the perfect advice I’ve acquired up to now is to only give my pal area. That’s… precisely what I did. I haven’t spoken to her in weeks, though I nonetheless find myself worrying about her once in a while, to the purpose where I check out her to see that she’s doing okay (and that she hasn’t blocked me but in case I lastly determine to succeed in out to her).

I actually don’t know what else to do. I assume I’m just in search of further perception (particularly from knowledgeable), however extra necessary, I simply want advice on what I can do for my good friend who might have probably trapped herself into yet one more abusive relationship.

Thank you on your time.

Stuck within the Middle with a Scorpion

Hoo boy. There’s quite a bit to unpack here, SitMwS. But let’s take it step by step.

At first: Yeah, it sounds an terrible lot like she’s in a poisonous, if not outright abusive relationship. A variety of the conduct you’re describing feels like someone who’s being remoted by an abuser. Take your good friend burning so many bridges and chopping again on everyone in her life. While everyone’s totally different, getting engaged often doesn’t also contain slicing ties with one’s good friend. Somebody who’s in an abusive relationship, nevertheless, typically will all of the sudden withdraw from associates, from family and from actions they used to like.

This is solely deliberate. Abusers will incessantly try to minimize their victims off from family and friends. The extra remoted that their victim is, the more they arrive to rely on the abuser. It additionally helps hold them underneath the abuser’s thumb. By chopping their victim off from their buddies, the victim has fewer voices warning them concerning the abuser’s conduct. Just as importantly, if the sufferer is reduce off from her friends and family, then she has fewer out there assets and fewer places to show if and when she decides it’s time to get the fuck out.

Abusers will incessantly body this in ways in which could seem affordable. It’s not often “I don’t want you talking to anyone who isn’t me” – although there are those that will make it about how jealous they get. More typically though, abusers will try to poison the properly and sew discord and distrust whereas convincing their victims to chop ties – the better to inoculate themselves towards accusations of abuse. In order that they’ll body the request as “they’re bad friends” or “they’re trying to break us up because they’re interested in you” or “they’re trying to turn you against me because REASONS”. This manner, if somebody tries to level out how shitty his conduct is they will say “see, they said exactly what I said they would.”

Sadly, you performed into this narrative by Good-Guying your approach via this. It’s a lot simpler for him to stitch doubt and mistrust by stating that you simply have been hoping to ask her out sooner or later. This puts just about the whole lot about your relationship together with her into question, like asking for those who can keep at her place, even figuring out she was in all probability going to say “no”. Now anything it’s a must to say about him is going to be via the filter of “yeah but he wants to date me,” regardless of whether that’s true any more or not.

But I need to come back to something you mentioned earlier: you’re stunned by this because she’s accustomed to abusive relationships, having been abused earlier than. This, unfortunately isn’t unusual; a lot of victims of abuse – especially as youngsters – will end up in different abusive relationships. This will truly put something of a whammy on individuals who find themselves in abusive relationships; they don’t need to consider or accept it because they need to supposedly “know better”. They consider they shouldn’t be the sort of one that’d get abused, especially again. It’s extremely troublesome to say “yes, this happened to me”. It’s even more durable to say “It happened to me again,” particularly to associates who might have pointed it out earlier than. This mix of denial, disgrace and embarrassment could make it more durable for them to determine to get out.

And it is onerous to go away an abusive relationship. Abusers are excellent at moving into their victims’ heads and convincing them that things are higher and it’s all going to be fantastic now. They’ll lovebomb their sufferer and reinitiate a honeymoon period the place they’re on their greatest conduct and it could possibly really feel like things are getting higher. This lasts long enough for the sufferer to recommit and let their guard down… and then the cycle of abuse begins once more. A sufferer of abuse – physical or emotional – typically will depart and go back to their abuser a number of occasions before they depart for good. This may be maddening for their pals as a result of… properly, shouldn’t they know better by now? This cycle of leaving and going back typically grinds individuals down, to the point that they’ll typically throw their palms up and say “fine, you know what, you chose this, I’m out.”

Which further isolates the victim.

Now that’s all assuming that’s what’s happening here. Yeah, the shit that you simply’re describing all feels like very typical abusive pink flags. However you don’t know for positive. Loads of the belongings you describe might be someone who’s giving gentle excuses as to why she doesn’t need you visiting or staying over. It wouldn’t be the first time that any person needed to turn down a crush and shifted the blame to a jealous companion. The growing methods she’s disconnected from you – and the lame excuses – might be melancholy, it might be a method of making an attempt to put boundaries between the two of you… the chances are pretty strong. Her withdrawing from her buddies might simply as simply be her life altering and deciding she needed totally different individuals in her life.

The truth is: you’re getting a tiny sliver of her life and extrapolating a lot from that. There are masses happening that you simply don’t see and that you simply don’t know. And let’s be trustworthy here: you’ve obtained some motivated reasoning happening right here to need it to be abuse and not just her rejecting you.

But earlier than everyone will get indignant in the comments, all the issues I simply mentioned? That’s part of what makes it so damn exhausting for an outsider who needs to assist and help their pal. All the potential ambiguity, the potential other reasons for the suspicious conduct… all of that muddies the water and makes it exhausting to know how you can respond. And even if you’re 100% right, they could not see it that method yet.

That’s why the toughest part for somebody on the surface is that, at the end of the day, there’s little or no that you simply can do to get someone out of an abusive relationship earlier than they’re prepared. You can’t “rescue” somebody from an abusive relationship. The one one that could make the choices for their life is them. The one factor you can do is present help and a non-judgemental area. If she involves you – IF – and asks for help, then you’ll be able to provide her with assets just like the Nationwide Home Violence Hotline and assist her create a security plan. But those should be her selection, and pushing her might very properly push her away.

So you’re going to have to simply accept there’s not a lot you can do. Take a look at the assets for family and friends of domestic abuse victims on the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Call them your self if you wish to speak out potential choices and how you can greatest assist your pal if she asks for it. You possibly can contact her and let her know that you simply care, that you simply’re apprehensive about her, that you simply’ll all the time be there if she needs you and that she will reach out to you at any time for any purpose.

However then… you need to depart the ball in her courtroom.

Hopefully you’re flawed. Hopefully that is all a wacky misunderstanding and every thing is just advantageous and there’s a logical and smart cause for all of this. But if there isn’t… properly, the perfect factor you are able to do is be the good friend she wants, when she wants it.

Good luck.


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