Friend In Trouble
Q: My best friend's husband is very controlling. He calls the shots and tells her when they can do things, who she can interact with, and even what she wears. They have three children, and he is always giving the last word on how to raise them, even when it contradicts her parenting. I'm beginning to see that their kids have a lot of anxiety and are socially awkward. Should I bring something up to my friend about this? I just can't stand seeing her and her children being so unhappy. -Danielle, 37
Dr. Anna: This sounds like a really difficult situation. The things you describe fit into an abusive relationship dynamic. These patterns can be really damaging for everyone and also difficult to see for people in the relationship. The question is how can you support your friend without making her feel judged, shamed, or further isolated. If there is a time you can talk to her in private, gently reflect to her the things you've noticed and express your concern about her and her children. Let her know that help is available. Anonymous and confidential help is available around the clock at the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). You can also call this number to get more information about how to help someone who may be in an abusive relationship.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.