Well, the shoe is on the other foot now, so to speak … and I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do.
One of my very best friends is currently in a relationship that charitably – at best – could be termed "unhealthy". Personally, I'd just call it "awful". The guy she's dating, I suppose, is sweet to her at times, particularly when they're out with friends ... but mostly, he's mentally and physically abusive to her. Even when I’ve seen them together in a public setting where he’s mostly behaving himself, there’s a constant barrage of condescension and insults towards her that’s wrapped in a veil of smiles and jokes, but I don’t think he’s kidding. She's also “been clumsy” and “tripped” more in the past few months than in the entire time I've known her over 6 years, she constantly has bruises that she’s trying to cover ... and she's also not a very convincing liar.
And he rapes her. Frequently.
I know that because I've gotten that particular confession from her a few times – usually in a panicked text or phone call in the middle of the night, which is also usually recanted the next day as “I was drunk” or “I was kidding” or “it was a misunderstanding”. Again, she’s not a good liar.
I can see what’s happening (as can several other people), but as of now, there’s not much I can do … which is just an incredibly helpless feeling. I’ve let her know that I’m there to help and support her, ranging from the passive “if you want to talk about anything, I’m here to listen” to the most active “if he’s hurting you, you need to leave him”. But apart from a few slips here and there, according to her, no, everything’s fine and wonderful … except I can see the hurt in her eyes. And the guilt, the guilt that shouldn’t be there because she isn’t doing anything wrong. I used to see that hurt and that guilt when I looked in the mirror, and I know what’s going on, and I understand it all too well …
… and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it, because she’s shutting me out. She’s shutting everyone out.
Just like I used to shut everyone out who wanted to help me.
So, I’m left to my own advice. When she asks me to leave her alone, I do, reluctantly. When she tells me to shut up and mind my own fucking business, I do, reluctantly. But I always make sure to let her know that I am there for her, unconditionally, and that I love her no matter what.
I’m just kind of scared because I found out today that she needed to go to the hospital – again – for the second time in several months, this time with a few broken ribs. Apparently she “fell down” again, which I don’t believe at all, unless by that you mean “the asshole boyfriend’s fist fell into her ribcage”. (If I could actually prove otherwise, I’d call the police … unfortunately, I can’t.) I can see things getting progressively worse and worse … and I worry. A lot.
So I do what I can … which isn’t much at the moment. And I think about all the times I pushed the people I loved away from me who wanted to help me … and realize how helpless they must’ve felt. And I’m so, so sorry for doing that … not only because it hurt them, but because it meant I was further hurting myself as well, for far longer than I needed to, just living in a world ruled by guilt and shame and pain and self-loathing.
I just hope she’s stronger than I was … and that she reaches out for help sooner than I ever did.