Where can I get help for my friend?
Hi Jude, this question is aimed at a situation my friend is in, she has been a friend since high school so I know her very well. She has been in a serious relationship for two years and since starting this relationship she has dropped off of the face of the planet. For someone who either texted, emailed or Facebook messaged us (being her friends) every single day and got together with us in the weekends or catch ups after work now we are lucky to hear from her maybe once every six months via text since she has been with this guy.
I have spoken with her regarding her relationship with him however she remains adamant that there is nothing untoward going on behind closed doors. I'm not so convinced. I have seen him reduce her to tears in public and drag her off so to speak away from people because of his renowned jealousy issues. I have seen his friends avoid the situation when this happens and have knowledge that he controls her social media profiles and phone. I have spoken with a previous girlfriend of his who says she had been the happiest she'd been since splitting up with him due to his demanding and controlling ways right down to what she eats and what she wears.
The last time I saw my mate was six months ago and I was shocked at her physical appearance. She looked unhappy and she had gained A LOT of weight. I almost didn't recognise who she was. I am afraid that something is going on but she has always been the type to sort her own issues and therefore not reach out to anybody or disclose some of her problems. Where might I get help with this? I am the only one who wants to try and reach out to my friend, other friends may think that I am overboard and it seems to me that the friends I have are in silence or denial of what may be happening.
Thank you for writing in and sharing and also for being such a caring friend. Well done! I hear your concerns and I too think you have reason to be worried and if it was one of my friends I would be worried too.
May I suggest that you try and get your girlfriend somewhere on her own. You may even have to make something up but I think it's very important that you get some time with her to let her know you care very much for her but you are worried about her. Explain that you don't see or hear from her very much anymore, then lead in to asking some questions:
• Are you OK?
• Is there something going on?
She may not want to answer, she may answer back with the response that everything is ok and that is a very high probability so be prepared for that. It is not easy for anyone to admit that they are being abused (in any way) and that is for a lot of reasons - fear, shame.
If this happens this is where you come in and let her know that no matter what, you care for her, that you are there for her and if at any time, day or night, she needs you, you will be there. You may like to suggest that she puts your number in her phone and puts it on memory, you may like to suggest that you make up a word or phrase that if anything happens and she rings you and says that particular word you will know that she needs help. What you do then is ring the Police and let them know that she can come to you and you will help her. The police will help you with what to do if she does come to you.
May I also suggest that you obtain some information about family violence and its effects and give them to her to read. One would be the positive relationship quiz on our website. I think this would be extremely beneficial to your friend and seeing something in a visual form can have a deep impact so definitely worth considering.
If she will open up then ask her what she would like to do. What does she need? There are many wonderful services available to help women just like your friend that she can access if she wants to. To find out what's available you or your friend can ring our information line on 0800 456 450 and ask for details.
Let's take one step at a time and if you consider what I have suggested and it happens write back in and let me know the outcome and we can talk again about where to from here.
Thank you again for caring so much. You are doing what we want people to do. Speak up and speak out. I will be thinking of you and your friend and hoping that you will be able to connect with her to let her know you care and are there for her.
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