A friend of mine once accused me of having Jeff “on a long leash” because I did not want to let her (platonically) share a hotel room with him when they went to an SCA event together.
I was upset with her for thinking this, but I did not go on a smear campaign against her, did not try to separate her from Jeff (I knew there was nothing going on), did not try to destroy her.
I just finally accepted she had a different opinion of “appropriate” behavior, and got over it.
In my search online for answers and validation, I discovered that some people would agree with Tracy that I somehow “disrespected” her by telling Richard she was abusive, that she wasn’t treating him or the children right, that she wasn’t treating me right. They would agree with her that I should be friends with her to be friends with Richard.
But I found far more support to the idea that friends are not good friends if they keep silent about abuse. For example, the comment section for this Carolyn Hax column: Wife Asks if Husband’s Friends Dislike Her and They Do; What Now?
A few people in the comments section said the friends were “disrespecting” the wife and the letter writer needed to get new friends.
But plenty of other commenters turned that around, saying (paraphrasing), “What if it were a woman writing in? Would you tell her, Ditch your friends for disrespecting your husband by telling you he’s spiteful and controlling?”
They showed how such advice would be unthinkable if the letter writer were a woman, to advise her to give up her support system and isolate herself from the people who did not like her abusive husband.
They showed how it was a sign of good friends–and people who could help the abuse victim get out of his/her situation–for the friends to speak up about what the abuser was doing.
And how on earth is one of the friends supposed to speak directly to the abuser about it? I’ve seen for myself how the abuser will turn that around on you, start a smear campaign against you, drive a wedge between you and the abused, and proceed to abuse you as well! How does that help the abused?
The friend Tracy drove away in 2008, Todd, also saw behind her mask, so it’s not surprising that she got so angry with him over nothing. I think she just looked for an excuse, any excuse, to rage at him. And that she did the same with me.
Also, over on the Shrink4Men website, which has a blog on Cluster B (histrionic, narcissistic, borderline) personality disordered women, one post and its commenters specifically stated that good friends will believe you, support you and speak up if you’re being abused.
I wrote in the comments of that post,
I was treated like the problem because I didn’t want to get too close to his abusive wife, or pretend that everything she did was perfectly fine or her ‘right.’ Even he treated me like I was the problem.
One of the regulars, who also had dealt with friends with Cluster B significant others, replied,
Your first and foremost obligation is to take care of and protect yourself and your loved ones first. I don’t mean that in a narcissistic way either. Without doing that first you won’t be good for anybody really.
You’re not in this world to take people’s abuse or twist yourself into knots to prove someone else’s idea of warped love.
Nobody in their right mind with a healthy value system would ever recommend to a friend that they stay to help a Cluster B or endure their abuse.
If your friend was a true friend to you, this person wouldn’t want you involved in his wife’s psychodrama, and he would be making plans to leave.
He expected you to be involved in a sick relationship. You were being manipulated by having your sense of obligation exploited. You absolutely made the right choice to leave both of them.
Thankfully you had enough mental health to do so.