Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Friday, July 4, 2014 at 6:30 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments
  • Print

Speak up about a friend’s abusive relationship

Carolyn Hax’s readers share their experiences.


Syndicated columnist

advertising

Dear Carolyn

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On speaking up to friends in abusive relationships:

Years ago I was in an emotionally abusive relationship that I couldn’t see for myself. I was recently divorced, my head was spinning and I was feeling like a horrible failure.

I’ll never forget when a close friend asked me, “Do you realize you always make excuses for her behavior?” Suddenly my mental fog lifted. He was absolutely right and I’d never looked at it that way. It was a moment that changed my life and led to me ending the abusive relationship.

Years later I told my friend how helpful his “mirror” perspective had been and his reaction was, “I said that to you? I’m so sorry!” I laughed and told him to never, ever apologize and never hold back. We can sometimes get caught in very dark places without knowing it. I’m forever grateful he risked our friendship to show me the way out.

— M.

On holding the parental tongue:

I’ve had two young adult daughters, 19 and 21, choose paths I wasn’t happy with (both became pregnant after dating for six months or less). They knew how I felt about the topic. One blew up at me and lost her natural mind (a tirade of nasty/hurtful insults hurled at me) when I expressed my disappointment, so we no longer speak.

If you raised them, they know how you feel about their choices before you even say it. It won’t change the outcome and definitely won’t enhance the relationship. Share your feelings with a close friend and leave it alone. If things work out for them, hooray! If not, they’ll figure it out. So zip it.

— S.

On breaking free from a parent who wants grown children to stay in the nest:

For years my mother urged my younger sister to stay with her and my father “to protect her.” In truth, she wanted to keep my sister home as a buffer because their marriage was so very unhappy.

She made my sister, self-conscious and timid by nature, the referee. My mother told my sister, for years and years, that “men only want one thing,” “It’s a dangerous world with bad people”; she warned my sister that she might have immoral roommates who drank and used drugs and slept with men if she moved out. My sister needed a push from the nest and my mother instead encouraged her fear of everything.

My sister did not date, she never married and she now has no close female friends, as my mother disapproved of everyone. It’s too late for my sister; she’s 61 and is still living at home with my 86-year-old, semi-invalid mother. Young people under this kind of pressure need to grab their own lives while they still can.

— P.

On the burden of being the “bad guy”:

I ended a relationship in a cowardly and abrupt fashion. My reasons were valid but my behavior was not. I felt bad for years.

I finally emailed my (perfectly sweet but quite young) ex and apologized. His response spoke volumes about grace. He said, “You taught me that I was worth loving and I’d never known that before.”

We are important in each other’s lives in ways we don’t even comprehend.

— C.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

Also in Living

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Hurry! Last two weeks to save 15%.

Hurry! Last two weeks to save 15%.

Reserve your copy of "The Seattle Sketcher," the long-awaited book by staff artist Gabriel Campanario, for the special price of just $29.95.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►