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Domestic Violence

Maintaining Friendships in an Abusive Relationship

05/13/2004

Question:

Is it alright for a woman to remain friends with the people who called the police on her husband for a domestic incident they seperated?

He claims to be working on anger management and wants to reconcile. She wants to be friends with the couple. He doesn`t want her to.

Answer:

I hope that I am responding to your question appropriately. I believe that you are asking the following question—"is it OK to remain friends with someone who has called the police on your husband, when he was observed to be abusive by others. You would like to remain friends with the couple- but your husband would not.

A couple of aspects come to mind, one being, when we think about intimate partner violence, the issue of control is salient. Men who are abusive are typically according to many researchers, using violence to control the behavior of others. If someone observed a violent act between you and your partner and did something to "stop it", they are in a way exerting control over the situation. And this may not be viewed favorably by the one doing the abusing. Secondly, we are not sure if your partner is experiencing feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment as a result of your friend's decisions to call the police. Last and perhaps most importantly, batterers often attempt to isolate their victims from others so that it becomes very difficult for the victims to receive the support they need from others. I urge you to remain mindful of this behavior. From an outsider's perspective, you seem to have people in your life who care about you and individuals who are not afraid to get involved and state that this behavior is not OK Many friends consider these acts (acts of violence) as personal and private matters- a situation for which they should not get involved. It would appear that friends like this are worth maintaining.

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Response by:

Cathy   McDaniels-Wilson, PhD Cathy McDaniels-Wilson, PhD
Adjunct Professor
Department of Sociology
The Ohio State University