I have a friend (she’s 19) who is sick and needs constant care. Her parents asked her ex-boyfriend to stay with her when they’re working, and he even spends the night there sometimes to help out. Although they’re broken up, her parents still adore him. Since they’d been broken up for some time, I thought it was okay to ask my friend’s ex to go out on a date. But he shot me down, informing me that he and my friend still have sex.
I knew my friend wasn’t really into the guy at all anymore, which is why I thought it was safe to pursue him. When he told me they were still sleeping together, I knew something was wrong. I asked my friend what was going on, and she said the ex makes her sleep with him. She also said he’d begun hitting her. She said she wasn’t supposed to tell me. I wanted to get help, but she begged me not to say anything to anyone.
A couple of days later, I was talking with her on the phone and when I asked if he’d touched her again, she said she couldn’t talk about it (because he was standing over her with his hand on her shoulder). During the conversation, she ended up locking herself in the bathroom because she was afraid of him hitting her for letting me in what was going on.
What should I do? I really want to get her some help, but I’m afraid he’ll retaliate and hurt her if they can’t prove that he’s done anything wrong. I’m also afraid her parents won’t believe the ex is capable of such abuse. If they ignore the problem, it could just get worse.
— Worried Best Friend
This is a serious situation, and you have to tell your friend’s parents about the abuse. I know you’re worried that it will get worse if the abuser finds out and the parents don’t believe you. But if you do nothing, the abuse will certainly continue.
I suspect the parents love their daughter and would do anything to protect her if they knew the guy they trusted to care for her was abusing her. Considering that she’s sick enough to need a caretaker, I would imagine they’d be extra protective.
But if they doubt your story, maybe the parents could set up hidden cameras so they can see for themselves. This could also come in handy later if the parents or your friend decide to press charges (which they most definitely should).
Once the parents know what’s going on, they can take the situation to the police and set up a restraining order against the guy.
After this is all said and done, your friend will be eternally grateful for your help. She may ask you to stay quiet now, but it’s only because she’s afraid of facing her abuser’s wrath.
Now I would normally also give you a talkin’ to about this whole trying-to-date-your-sick-friend’s-ex situation, but if you hadn’t tried to hook up with the guy, you might not have learned of his abuse. So in this case, it turned out to be a good thing. But as a general rule, don’t date friends’ exes. That’s just bad manners.
Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at firstname.lastname@example.org