My best friend recently hooked up again with her ex-boyfriend. I didn’t know the guy that well when they were dating the first time, because she pretty much disappeared from our social circle after they hooked up. I do know they originally broke things off because she said he was abusive. The few times I met him, he was drunk and causing a scene in public.
Since my friend rekindled her relationship, she’s stopped hanging out with her friends again. I know a few of our friends were very outspoken about her decision to get back together with an abusive guy, and it seems she’s trying to avoid that conflict. Then again, he may be keeping her away from her friends.
I haven’t said anything to her face, but I’m angry with her for getting back with this jerk. I’m the one she came crying to last time they broke up, and I had to hear all the awful stories about how he hit her when he was drunk. I want to tell her that I think she needs to leave him for good, but I’m afraid she’ll cut me off like she has the friends who’ve spoken out.
How can I get my friend out of a bad relationship without pissing her off?
— Protective BFF
No woman likes to hear that she’s got a crappy beau, and in most cases, it’s out of line for friends to state their opinion. However, when a woman’s safety is at stake, friends should do everything in their power to get their girlfriends away from the abuser.
Have you asked your friend why she chose to get back with an abusive man? Maybe he threatened her to get her back. It's more likely that he apologized, professed his “undying love,” and promised it’d never happen again. Either way, she needs to get away fast.
Don’t be afraid to bring up the issue. In the nicest way possible, ask her why she got back with her ex. Ask her if she’s worried that he may hit her again, and then explain your concerns. Don’t be preachy. That will push her away. Come at the issue as a concerned friend. Let her know that, for her own safety, she should consider calling breaking up with the guy.
If your friend truly believes the guy has changed his abusive ways, your mission, as her best friend, is to help her realize her own self-worth by hosting lots of fun girl time. Do activities that promote self-esteem, like taking part in something that she loves but never gives herself time for. Volunteering is also a great way to boost esteem, while helping someone else in the process. Host these self-worth-boosting girl days at least once a week, and he sure to appear supportive and not angry. Hopefully, she’ll begin to open up to you and realize that a strong, independent woman doesn’t need to spend her days with an abusive jerk.
If she’s scared to leave the man for fear that he’ll hurt her, don’t be afraid to get law enforcement involved. Restraining orders are your friend.
In the end, the decision to stay with an abuser is your friend’s choice. You can only do so much as her BFF, but your silence may be interpreted as approval, and you certainly don’t want that.
Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at firstname.lastname@example.org.