My co-worker is a battered wife

I’d heard her talking with another co-worker about some problems at home, and she and I had talked about some of her bad experiences with her assholish husband (i.e. she was training a male co-worker and the husband called her at work to tell her to tell the co-worker not to touch her) but I didn’t know it was this bad.

Today she walks in with a bruise on her arm from where he twisted it.

Pretty much everyone in the department has already told her to leave him. She says she’s going to but I don’t know if she will. Thank god thre are no kids.

If I live to be a million I will never understand how love turns into this, or how anyone who claims to love someone can raise a hand to that person. I can’t say as I don’t understand the impulse. I had an ex who I wanted to smack on more than one occasion. But there’s no way I ever could, or would, and I can’t get into the head of someone who would actually do it.

Nor do I want to.

This is depressing.

I’m sorry to hear about your co-worker’s situation. I hope that she finds the strength to do what she needs to do.

Is there any way HR could reassure her with regards to a possible leave of absence or flexible hours if/when she is moving? Would they be supportive of a restraining order to keep her husband from entering the workplace? Just knowing that these sort of resources are available can sometimes make things easier.

Hugs to your coworker.

My friend was a battered wife.

She hid it well. VERY well. No one knew. Even when it was obvious that they were headed for a divorce, no one suspected THAT of HIM.

She told us after the fact. After the divorce papers had been signed and he was definitely out of the picture, both emotionally and geographically.

She’s much better now. Happier. In counseling and glad for it. We’re happy that she found a way out.

Mr. S is glad that he never had to face the scumbag after he found out. And sorry that he didn’t know enough about the guy to do something about it sooner.

All I can say is, that ain’t love.

Advice to all: Have an account that only you have access to. Stash away enough money to support yourself for a couple of months.

Our boss and our boss’s boss would be supportive and they would steamroll over any objections HR might have, although I don’t think HR would raise a stink about it. She’s already on a flexible schedule while she goes to school and we get a lot of vacation and personal time to use as we need, so the time is ont an issue. She has a place to stay (with her mother) so now it’s just a question of her finding the resolve to go through with the move-out.

Otto, does your employer have an employee assistance program? She could talk to them in confidence and they could refer her to resources she might not know about. If nothing else, they may have some literature on domestic violence that you could share with her, if you feel close enough.

Usually I’m of the laissez-faire school unless I’m asked for help or advice, but battered wives are often so beaten down psychically it’s almost impossible to act for themselves. She may need more of a push from friends to take care of herself. Good for you for being a concerned friend, and good luck to her.

You’re already doing what you can, Otto. I think you pinned it; it’s a question of her resolve, and the huge leap of faith she’ll need to change. There’s no magic phrase you or anyone else can use to nudge her over. The most you can do is be around when/if she makes the move. And good on ya for noticing, and caring.

I’m fairly sure, if she goes by pattern, that the dynamics that have broken her down happened slowly and insidiously. It’s almost impossible for anyone to shield against graduated violence from someone close and trusted. It’s a slow process of erosion that leaves the person numbed and adapted by slow degrees to what’s going wrong. After a while even mustering the energy to cope day to day (and maintain automatic, learned shields of denial) pretty drain the batteries. It’s awful, but even a fragile equilibrium can seem acceptable to a person under prolonged siege.

Just keep saying the truth to her. Push if you sense the slightest opening. Get some concerned folks together and offer help on small, specific steps. Make a date to help her go home, pack essentials and go to her mother’s house “for a while.” Make lists for her–practical stuff–for when she can grasp them.

But, unfortunately, she’s ultimately the one who has to make the leap of faith. It sucks but there 'tis. Nobody can “save” somebody else wholesale.

Good luck to (plural) you,

Many cities have shelters for battered women who have nowhere else to go, or who don’t want their abusers to know where they are. Their location is kept as secret as possible, but phone numbers are in the phone book.

Recently in the grocery store in the village near my weekend place, I saw and heard a woman verbally abusing the little boy with her. He seemed to me to be a normal 8 or 9-year-old, just looking at stuff (I have 4 sons), but she continually threatened to “beat his butt,” etc.

I waited until she was out of earshot ask asked him quietly, “Are you going to be all right?” He said Yes. A few minutes later, when she again called him names, threatened him with a beating (for looking at a box of cookies), I spoke to him again, said, “I’ll help you if you need help. Are you sure you’re going to be all right?” And again he said Yes.

Checking out, I asked the cashier about the situation (this is a village of 1200 people). She said everyone knew “that woman is nuts”, but said she was “all talk.” I asked if neighbors kept an eye on the boy, and she assured me that everyone looked after him. As I was putting my stuff in my car, I noticed one of the village’s two police officers speaking to the woman and boy in a friendly fashion, patting the boy’s head, and I did feel reassured about the boy’s safety. I guess it does take a village.

But I’d be worried about anyone in a similar situation in a less protective environment.


Everyone here has been the voice of reason - in the end, the decision is hers to make. Many women in such situations go through some rather odd thought loops:
a) he loves me
b) he hits me because I did something wrong
c) I’ll make it better
d) he just said he loves me and doesn’t want to lose me
e) I can’t leave him, because he needs me…

Lather. Rince. Repeat.

These men are good at mending broken pots - they’ll put on quite a scene when the woman threatens to leave… and then probably proceed to the angry phase and the cycle perpetuates itself.

The best thing you can do is be supportive. Give her the phone number of a women’s shelter in your area. Whether or not she calls is up to her, but at least she’ll have the ressource.

The catch with these things is that by overhelping, people can make the situation worse. These husbands/boyfriends/whatevers are extremely manipulative, possessive and often control eveyrthing. If they find a lone phone number in a pocket, they’re likely to throw a fit…

Lend an ear. Ask about how she’s doing… and hope for the best.


I’d like to add to Elenfair’s list:

f) If I leave, he’ll kill me.

And sadly, despite TRO’s and police reports, they’re too often right. It’s a terrifying situation to be in.

I remember a letter Ann Landers got from a battered wife saying that he broke her arm, “but that just proves he loves me.”

No delusion like self-delusion.

If there is enough mistrust and decietfullness in a relationship that would make this necessary or possible, you might as well cut to the chase and end it now. That is where it will end up inevitably.

Certainly nothing personal, but I think that is extremly poor advice.

She told me she loved me like a brother. She was from Arkansas, hence the Joy!

Oops! My bad! I followed a link to get to this post and didn’t respond to Zoe’s post in the proper spirit of this thread.

Yes, battered spouses should consider squirlling away some money to make a sudden, fast break.

Sorry bout that!

“Lets get them meek bastards NOW!