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DEARSUGAR Needs Your Help: Do You Keep A Secret When Someone Is In Danger?

DEARSUGAR and What Now Whately need your help. As someone's friend, of course you would keep their secret safe, but when you find out that danger is upon them, does protecting them trump betraying them?

Dear Sugar
I recently went on a trip to New York with a group of women, some of whom I know very well and some who I don't. One of the women, who I hardly know, got rather intoxicated one night (as did I) and confided in me that her boyfriend is abusing her. Like many abuse victims, she was very quick to jump to his defense.

Now, we have returned home and I see her in social situations, and I'm not sure what to do with my new found knowledge. Should I confront her about it, or wait for her to bring it up again? What Now Whatley

BeeMoney BeeMoney 11 years
I counseled in a Domestic Violence Shelter in college. You can do whatever makes you most a peace, but remember as long as she is coming to his defense...she is still in the abuse cycle. She is not ready yet to change her life, possibly for many, money, fear, etc. As long as she is resistant to help and comes to the defense of her spouse, you could actually be putting yourself in danger. Unfortunately, many women in an abuse cycle will confide in their abusers and tell them if someone is helping them. If this friend matters that much to you, and you feel that you need to get involved you should do so, but be prepared to help this woman leave a dangerous spouse, completely start her life over, and get through some very tough times. There is an abundance of information online about breaking abuse cycles and the control wheel, etc. Maybe some of that information will help. Sorry this post was so lengthy.
nicachica nicachica 11 years
welcome pengybabe! sounds like you know you're stuff and i'm real happy you can give such sound advice. i've had a friend in an emotionally abusive relationship before and telling her to get out simply did not work because she did not WANT to get out. a lot of times, it was simply a matter of holding her hand and being there for her when she needed someone to talk to. eventually she sought help but really, all i was able to do was offer a shoulder to lean on. a lot of times, that's the best (and unfortunately only) thing that you can do.
Adriana42 Adriana42 11 years
i cant believe women keep that a secret
pengybabe pengybabe 11 years
Hi ladies! I have been reading popsugar for a while now but just created my account... I have a master's degree in Counseling and currently work as an Outpatient therapist for an agency locally. I work mainly with adults, especially women, and have seen a lot of cases of domestic abse, amongst everything else. I think this young woman confided in you because you DON'T know her so thus (in her mind) you will not "think bad" of her or as critically as she thinks people who know her well might. If you think her life is in danger, you have a moral obligation to notify the authorities (I am considered something called a mandated reporter which means I am legally obligated to report child abuse and in cases where a client is a harm to self or others.) From what you said, this situation has not come to that. Unfortunately, you can do nothing for her. She has to be the one to decide to get out of the abusive relationship. Perhaps if you have a local Crime Victim's Center or counseling agency or practice, give her some numbers and let her know you care. Oftentimes that is what will give hope to someone who feels hopeless.
jennifer76 jennifer76 11 years
I think you should talk to her. Make sure she knows you care and you aren't judging her. But, I wouldn't hold your breath. If even when she's drunk and far far away from him, she defends him, she's probably going to stay with him. All you can do is make sure she knows you're willing to help.
Daisy6264 Daisy6264 11 years
No, not if they are in danger.
Nicadema Nicadema 11 years
She opened up to you for a reason and the drink just helped lubricate her confession. She probably wants help but is humiliated that she let herself get into a twisted situation. She needs to hear from someone who genuinely cares for her well being that the abuse is not her fault and that real love isn't about hitting and controlling. She needs someone to help her muster up the strength to leave him and move on. She opened up to you. The only thing you can do is offer your friendship. Pull her aside at one of these functions and just talk to her--not about the abuse but her life in general. Let her know that you are there if she needs someone to talk to. Let her know she isn't alone. I think women banding together in support, love and friendship can help save other women in such situations. To ignore a cry of help from one of your sisters is to perpetuate the problem.
emmad18 emmad18 11 years
wow thats a tough situation. probably best to try to talk to her about it, tell her she deserves better, etc., and that she is above being a victim. if she wont talk to you about it maybe try to encourage her to join a womens group or to go talk to a professional about her problems in confidence. at least this way you will know that you did your best to help her. good luck with it and i hope everything turns out for the best. xxx
t0xxic t0xxic 11 years
Talk to her. or try to she prolly wont listen tho. Happy Wizard of Oz Wednesday!
honeysugar28 honeysugar28 11 years
That's a tough spot to be on. I would say talk to her again and ask her if she's doing ok and let her know you're there to help in any way that you can.
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