Parenting

My Friend Is In A Toxic Relationship And I Can't Help

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My friend is in a toxic relationship and it seems that there is nothing that I can do to help her.

She has been married for 10 years to a person whom everyone loves; he is fun, charismatic, and sweet, at least in public. As is often the case, it’s a different story behind closed doors. He is a verbally abusive alcoholic who she has desperately tried to change. He’s also a pathological liar and compulsive spender; and she’s the breadwinner of the house, as he can’t hold down a job.

As her friend, it’s so painful to watch. I’ve told her time and time again that she should walk away. We’ve talked about how it’s taking a toll on her mentally and physically. She’s lost a tremendous amount of weight because she just doesn’t eat. My heart is broken for her.

When he’s at a party or out to dinner or you run into him at Target, he turns on the charm. At first glance, you’d love to hang around with him. He has the best jokes and a winning smile. After all, as psychologist Lisa Aronson Fontes, told NPR: “The truth is, no one would get in a relationship with an abusive person if they were abusive all the time. So usually people who are terribly abusive can also be extremely loving, extremely generous, extremely helpful,” she says.

Of course, I know that at home he picks her apart and does nothing but make her feel badly about herself. What do I do?

I have talked to her sister, who’s tried to make her sister believe that she’s worthy of something better. But she just doesn’t listen. Everyday there is another reason why she has to stay. Experts say that people can come up with as many as 50 reasons to stay in an abusive relationship. Studies show that many people are fearful in their current relationship and have also been so in past relationships.

My friend doesn’t see the big picture right now. Hopefully, someday she will. I want her to know that there’s no shame in walking away from a bad marriage. I hope that she’ll one day understand that she is worthy. Until that day, I’ll continue to support her, but I’ll also remind her that this isn’t normal or healthy.

I’ll also remind her of all the resources she has available to her, besides her friends and family.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org