Continuing a narrative of abuse, from the perspective of a friend

A few weeks ago I posted about my worry for my female friend.

I was advised by some to continue to be there for her.  Others told me to cut off ties with her.  I would see her at work, and we would say hi.  But we stopped doing things together like we used to, mostly because Y was always there. 

The brief background is that my friend, who, after dating 3 guys (named X, Y, and Z), decided to stay with Y, a controlling, manipulative, insecure guy who had no job , never left her side (even when she was at class/work), threatened to kill her previous boyfriends. I encouraged the previous boyfriends to file reports against him to the police, and when he was cyberbullying her, I and Z led the campaign to get the material removed. She knew that I did not like Y and I asked her not to bring him to my house, both because I did not like him and because I do not like random people to know where I live. One morning she needed to get something from her wrecked car (tow truck couldn’t fit up her driveway, so I held onto it until the Kidney foundation got it), and she brought him. I was angry at her for that. In between all of this was a breakup with Y, a makeup, and her not doing things with our normal social circle because we did not feel comfortable around him.

We unincluded him, not her. We all were very creeped out/ unsafe / scared / extremely uncomfortable with him knowing where we lived or worked, and after word got around of her bringing him to my place, it was made very clear that she was welcome to join us at any time but he was not. She and I would talk a bit online about superficial stuff, and I could pretend that he wasn’t looking over her shoulder.

This past weekend I got a phone call at 3AM from this friend. “Come over now, I need you.” I told her I was on my way and asked if we needed to call 911. She said no. So as the crazy per son who can’t stand to let anyone suffer or worry (my main WoW character is a Palidan, go figure), I wake up my boyfriend next to me, we pull on jeans, and 15 minutes later we get to her house. I was thinking that maybe she was feeling panicked or extremely depressed from stuff that her ex-husband had been telling her about his new girlfriend (he lives 10 hours away ).

As we pull up the block I notice headlights in her driveway, so I slow down a bit to scope it out. Y is leaving her driveway, I slow down a bit hoping he won’t notice me and when he’s halfway down the block I pull into her driveway. I should have waited longer because as I’m getting out of my car he pulls in behind me. I know he recognizes me, so I stare him down and he leaves.

I rush to my friend’s door, and her security door is unlocked and in pieces. She’s in her house with a bag of frozen vegetables held to her head and a black eye. I sit her down and ask what happened:

She and Y went to a club, one of Y’s friends (she first described him as a friend, but as she talked more of the night he turned into someone Y has hated for a while) flirted with her, and she turned him down. It annoyed Y he dropped her off at her place and went home. She went to sleep. At just before 3AM he showed up at her house demanding his stuff back. She asked him to come back the following day and told him she would get it all together if that’s what he wanted. He wanted it now, and was in the process of breaking down the door. She asked him to wait 15 minutes for someone to come because she didn’t want to be alone with him like this. IHe breaks the bottom glass panel out of her security door. She doesn’t want the door to be broken so she unlocks her inside door and tells him to wait. He gets inside. Then somewhere in here (I’m not sure of the order) 1) He punches her, 2)she tries to push him out of the house, 3)he chases her and she barricades herself in her bedroom and calls me. As he leaves he tells her that if she calls the police then he’s reporting her for assault because she pushed him and had been drinking that night. Then he left and we showed up.

I tell my boyfriend to call 911, and when she protests I tell her that he simply told her this to scare her. She has nothing to worry about. He left a bruise on her, she is fully a foot shorter than him, and he broke her front door. Her trying to push him out was her protecting herself and her property. While we are sitting and waiting for the police, he calls her phone and we let it go to voicemail. He says that he’s calling the police and that they’ll be there soon to arrest her. She freaks out again, I calm her down and suggest that she put on some pants while my boyfriend finds a fresh bag of frozen veggies (she was sleeping in a t-shirt). This distracts her a bit, and we wait for the police.

The police come (one man, one woman), and they call an ambulance to check out her eye. It’s “just” a black eye, so we don’t go to the hospital. They ask for his address, and we know the street but not the house. However, as he called the police himself (the call comes through as the officers talk to her), they get it from him. One officer says “Because he left a mark on you, I need to arrest him. So unless he tells me something amazing, he’ll be in jail tonight.” The officers leave and come back a half hour later. “Yeah, he’s being processed. Don’t worry, he was just trying to scare you. It’s a good thing you called us.”

The officer then explains what she should do: that she should go down to the office with him (we could go with her) and officially press charges. This way, it would hold up more in court and she could get an order of protection. She doesn’t want to do this at first. I ask the officers if we could follow them in my car. They tell us that it’s fine. She asks me if I mind (if I mind!? I’m so enthused that this scumbag is arrested!!) and I finally convince her that seriously I am more than happy to take her to do this. My boyfriend (who this whole time has been standing quietly in the back and doing what I ask – ie. Getting us water and a blanket, looking for the cat) agrees.

We go, the paperwork gets filled out, and we’re all ok. Right?

Not entirely. The police told my friend that they would call her when he was released. On Monday when she filed the Order of Protection, she asked how much longer they thought he would be held. He was released on Saturday! Additionally, the order doesn’t cover me, and he saw me. As she and I work on the same campus, if I see him I can still report him. But he knows where I live. So since Monday I have been spending my nights at my boyfriend’s house.

While I’m not the direct victim of his actions, I still feel scared. And through my fear, I am disempowered. My boyfriend tries to frame my sleeping at his house as me “making a smart decision.” But I keep telling him that there’s no reason to be forced to make this decision.

I am angry at Y. Which is justified. I am angry at the police department, dropping the ball and not calling my friend. Again, this is justified.

However, I am angry (and I was before this situation came up) at my friend for going against my wishes and showing Y where I live. And this makes me feel guilty. She is the victim of this crime. She is suffering most. I am angry that this decision of hers has caused me to feel unsafe. However, I feel guilty because she also feels very unsafe because of this crime.

Argh! I don’t know how to feel. I think that I will let it be water under the bridge. As long as she doesn’t get back together with him, I will simply let this go. Soon, though, I do need to sit with her and explain why I don’t want her to bring her boyfriends to my place unless I approve of it, using Y as an example. I can’t let this happen again.  I feel selfish, but I realize I can’t do what I must, much less help my friends, if I can’t have my own safe place.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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