Abused friend returns to husband

A textbook case of domestic abuse

The friend I wrote about several days ago that has been psychologically, sexually, and physically abused by her husband has returned to him after fleeing from their home. I don’t know the details, but I do know that she has spoken to him by phone; and he’s agreed to go to couples counseling with her.

In theory, this sounds good, but color me skeptical.

Apparently, this was the second time that she’d left him since getting married, and their wedding was only several months ago. In that time, from the little I know, he commandeered her computer and tablet, and he deleted contacts from her phone without her permission. I’m certain these examples of abuse are only the tip of the iceberg.

She’s pregnant

Based upon what we know, our friend is almost certainly pregnant, which makes her situation so much more challenging.

Her unborn child will render her forever tied to her abuser, for he is the father; abortion is not something she would consider. Also, she, ever the kind, gentle optimist, holds out unfounded hope that he will change his behavior and be a good father to their child (he already has children from a previous marriage, and she claims that he is a good father to them).

The pregnancy increases her desire to ‘make the marriage work’, which, from the perspective of her friends (including us) seems very ill-advised. However, her being pregnant means that time is working against her, in terms of the ease with which she potentially could establish her freedom from him.

She has very few resources

Our friend is an immigrant to Israel with no family in this country; her immediate family is spread around the world, and none of her relatives have been to Israel. Immigrants like her have very little structural support locally, so they have to rely upon the kindness of whatever friends they’ve made since moving here.

Relatedly, she has very few financial resources and no higher education, which limits her employment options. Her husband is not well off either, but two incomes are obviously still better than one when it comes to supporting a child, which goes back to her pregnancy.

Beyond all of the above, divorce proceedings are costly in and of themselves, which discourages low income couples from divorcing. This happens to be a contributing factor behind increases in incidents of domestic violence during economic downturns… Impoverished couples that ought to get divorced but cannot afford to do so end up remaining together – despite their crumbled marriages.

Nothing we can do

Our friend came to stay at our home when she fled from her husband last week, just before we left for our vacation in Haifa. She was here for a week; and she could have stayed for longer as far as we were concerned. In fact, we were expecting her to still be here when we returned this afternoon.

Now, she’s back with him again, and it’s not clear whether and when it’s safe for us, as her friends, to contact her. Has her husband commandeered the new phone she bought last week? At what hours is it safe to call her? Is he still tracking her movements on Google Maps?

These are horrible questions to be asking ourselves; we feel utterly helpless.

Of course, whenever she needs to, she can always come stay with us again… And, yes… I do believe it will be a matter of when – not if.

99 thoughts on “Abused friend returns to husband”

  1. I hope your friend does make a final break with her abusive husband. Although I have not read any recent statistics on this situation, I don’t believe abusers are likely to change, and I don’t think the relationship is likely to be repaired. Kudos to you for providing a safe haven for your friend. โค

  2. OMG-If you ever get the chance and she is able to hearโ€”he needs counseling BEFORE she even contemplated reuniting. Such a very scary grave situation. I hope he does not kill her.

  3. It is a matter of when not if the abuse will happen again. I hope your friend gets the help she needs. You can only do so much to help because you aren’t the one making the choices.

    1. no, there isn’t.

      she’s back with him until something horrible enough happens to convince her to leave him, and “horrible enough” is relative to her tolerance for suffering and the amount of abuse that she’ll be willing to suffer through to protect her future child[ren].

      it’s stomach-churning.

  4. David, aren’t there Domestic violence counseling agencies she could consult? I saw this phenomenon as a judge in DV cases, and hopefully there can be some intervention.

    1. we gave her a bunch of phone numbers for various services (legal, housing, etc., etc.) when she first came to our apartment, and, to the best of my knowledge, she contacted some of them, but ultimately she chose to return to him instead of pursuing assistance of any sort.

      1. Very sad, but unfortunately not unusual. As some of the others commenters have said, itโ€™s hard to watch this. All the best to her and I hope she does get some help.

  5. You have written about a sad circumstance simply, factually and without embellishment. This tone will help you be a better friend. It will help you navigate what is best for you.
    The challenge is that you are afraid. The abuser is also abusing you by attempting to intimidate you into leaving the support of his wife and further empowering him. I hope itโ€™s safe to have continued contact with your friend. If you retreat she is further isolated. Any threats he makes to you should be reported to police.
    Not knowing more I would be reckless to speculate on how dangerous he might be to others besides his wife. It would be injudicious to say that under no circumstances should you disengage. I donโ€™t say that. Protect yourself at all times. At the same time search for courage. The courageous are always afraid. Thatโ€™s what makes them courageous. I hope you can remain a supportive friend and ally.
    Sheโ€™s in for a long struggle and will need courage.

    1. Any threats he makes to you should be reported to police.

      Steven, we’ve never met him, and I don’t even think he knows who we are, unless she explicitly told him the names of the people whose apartment she was staying in when she fled from him. Thanks for the concern though.

      We’re here for her should she ask for help. But, honestly, I don’t foresee her doing that at this point, at least for a very long time… If she bears his child[ren], she will probably accept a lot of abuse from him in order to protect their offspring.

      1. Very sad deal for your friend. I detest his kind. Bad marriages can be even worse than bad divorces.

  6. It is the scary reality for many in difficult and abusive relationships. I am glad that she at least has you and your wife to turn to. I pray she keeps the lines of communication open.

  7. Iโ€™m sorry for your friend, and also that you have to witness this situation ๐Ÿ’” ๐Ÿ˜ฆ It is common for victims to return several times before leaving for good (I did, but have been free for years now)โ€“ hopefully she will get away from him before anything worse happens.

  8. That’s so sad. So many people get in that situation of wanting to believe it will get better + dislike being alone + denial of how serious their situation is. I hope she finds a solution tjat works for her. Thank you for helping when you can!

  9. When you are female, when you work minimum wage jobs, when family/friends can’t help long term, etc., and you find yourself pregnant? Facing ALL that you listed? It’s hard to leave – I stayed 7 years longer than I should’ve – simply because – no way out – no where to go and if you don’t get beaten to bloody pulp and land in hospital for 6 months – and strangers take your children away, while you are ‘unable, obviously, to care for them…” – No one cares – no help to be had – and well – Hope always shows up when anyone finds that all worldly resources are for others, but not for them, and they do the best they can, and hope, they can make it, survive, provide for their offspring, best as they can – your friend’s arguments about ‘him being good dad to his existing children’ are not her being delusional – you back any living thing into a corner via laws, regulations, faith, culture, etc., as you just listed out she is???? Well – many a ‘woman/mom’ is willing to sacrifice themselves – but they will always, to my mind, take the the path where they see the best hope for their child – even if they must die someday, while standing in front of that child – it’s the mama gene, DNA hardcoded, I think – Prayers for you and for your friend continue here

      1. I didn’t ‘communicate’ it correctly – thank you, but no need to be sorry for me – I’ve been free for going on 12 years – and yet – I continue to read tales that are so in tandem with everything you expressed here – regardless of nation, religion, culture, traditions – and to me? I’m just sad that mothers/mothers to be/women continue to have to make very hard choices, in so many places – and are often, viewed with contempt – even while – the only reason most folks on this planet are only here – exist – because a woman, chose to have sex, get pregnant, give birth to and fight for the life of their child – it just continues to astound me how ‘supply/demand’ economics wax over into the human race – guess we, as humans? Have been too successful in surviving/thriving/over-populating – overall – sigh –

          1. Your friends tale, reminded me of a friend I had long ago – a friend that I and another, showed up with truck/trailer to move her out, during spring ice storm, while ‘he’ was at work. I was shocked at the change in her, in just the short time since she and I no longer lived in same town, and I hadn’t seen her for awhile – and I was shocked over how long it took for her to recover from that short period – when she was asked to ‘be here’ by one she had been dating, lured by the chance to have both work and art college nearby to continue her education – it took a long time and now? we lost contact when she moved on to her dreams and I fled far from that town where we first met and worked – but oh, how it broke my heart for the months her creative spirit I first knew as ‘her’ disappeared and she was just a shell of what she was before – https://ballybin.wordpress.com/2022/08/12/purple-dinosaurs/ is about her. As I first knew her. I hope, now? So many decades later? She is happy and thriving – I do, always, so hope…. ๐Ÿ˜€

Comments are closed.