2015-04-18 14:12:40 ET

someone that i love is in an abusive relationship and the situation is so fucking delicate that i am at a loss for how to help. i have been googling "how to talk to someone in an abusive relationship" and "how to help someone who doesn't believe they're being abused" and shit like that and it's sort of giving me ideas of what to say and how to approach the subject, but i am still so fucking scared he'll just get angry and think i'm prying and shut the conversation down before it even gets started.

what's even more complicated about it is that up until a little over a month ago, he and i were romantically involved and headed toward good things. the bump in the road came in the form of his emotionally, physically, sexually and psychologically abusive ex-girlfriend coming back to town and having no job or place to live. being the good guy that he is, he decided to take her in and fall back on old habits rather than let her be homeless. all the progress he had made in the time they'd been apart, building up his self-esteem, making positive changes, reconnecting with old friends, planning for the future... over the past month i've watched all of that come to a screeching halt.

i see him reverting back to the depressed, anxious, confused, exhausted, cynical person he was when i first met him right after they'd broken up. getting a glimpse of the person he is inside, past the walls he's built up... i feel like i can't sit idly by and leave him behind. it's so, so hard for me to deal with this, but i know it's even harder for him, and i am doing everything i can to focus on helping him. i just don't know how. i'm so scared of fucking things up and pushing him away. he's so good at hiding his emotions and putting on a brave face and pretending that he's jazzed to be helping her out, but i can tell that he knows things aren't right. i'm so scared for him.

he's become a person i hardly recognize and i realize that this is likely how he was the entire time they were together, i just never got to see it, only hear about it. in the time i knew him, the REAL him, he was radiant. it hurts my very soul to see him as he is now. he walks on eggshells around her all the time because his main motivation for everything now, EVERYTHING, including the people he interacts with, the places he goes, the things he does, is just to prevent her from having a panic attack. he has cut off nearly all contact with me and other female friends because it's easier to remove us from his life than it is to deal with one of her jealous, unstable episodes where she's up all night screaming and crying and begging him to take her to the hospital because she thinks she's dying.

all of this is compounded further by the fact that i live two hours away, and seem to be the only person who is fully aware of how dire and delicate and complicated and sad the situation is. his parents have no idea and have never even met his ex, all of his close friends don't live nearby so he can only skype with them, but he can't even discuss what's happening because he lives in a studio apartment and she's always there, listening... his old roommate and best friend knows she's back in town but i have no idea how he feels about the situation. i feel like the only one who can help, but there's so little i can do. i don't know. i just don't know.

so, SK, i come to you again... any advice? have you ever been in my position, standing on the sidelines watching and feeling helpless while someone you care about suffers silently? or maybe you've been on the inside, trapped in a situation you weren't sure how to get out of, feeling like you are alone and scared and unsure of who or where to turn to?

thank you all. i just want to say thanks. i've gotten some really good advice here over the years and am always grateful to have this place to call home when my brain is overflowing and i need somewhere to put it all.

2015-04-18 16:43:01 ET

I've been in an abusive relationship before (it started as mostly emotional, but escalated to physical) so at least I can see where his mindset is and he is falling back into the unhappy person he used to be but can't see it himself. People tried to talk to me about it, but I couldn't see it myself until it got physical, but even then when you care about someone, or think you do, you try to convince yourself what they are doing isn't abuse. I don't know that you can convince him otherwise and to see what the other person is doing or what else you can do besides being their for him/checking on him. I'm hoping someone else has better advice, but at the very least I wanted to say something to you as it sounds like you are going through a lot seeing your friend go through this but not being able to help. *hugs*

2015-04-18 18:05:10 ET

Talk to his friend and try to get as many people together on this and have some sort of intervention. He needs help and hearing it from only one person probably isn't enough.

2015-04-22 19:04:24 ET

@numb: thank you for sharing. *hugs* the perspective really helps. i've been trying to ease him into opening up to me a little bit, reminding him that he deserves good things and that i will be here to listen and support him as long as he wants me around. we've talked a little bit about how her behavior makes me afraid for him and he has been listening and agreeing and talking to me more. it feels like i'm getting through a little bit and that makes me hopeful.

@drake: i don't know if talking to his friend would make things better or worse. my friend is very set in his ways and rarely changes his mind once he makes a serious decision like the ones he's made re: letting her live with him, alienating people in order to please her, etc. i think he's just got it in his head that he has to accept all of this from her because of some sort of "i've made my bed, now i have to lie in it" mentality. i think he'd perceive an intervention as sort of an ambush and just push us all away.

2015-04-23 16:07:08 ET

I would just keep trying to get him to open up and to see things from the outside. Sometimes you really can't see it when you're in it. *hugs back* It sounds like you are making some progress. Hopefully in time (sooner rather than later) he'll be able to see he isn't happy nor is a relationship like that healthy for him. <3

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