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Domestic Violence/Is there anything I can do to help her get out of an abusive marriage?


QUESTION: Dear Kriss,
I've been dating a woman, a married woman who's in an extremely abusive and toxic relationship. Her husband is currently living in another state with their baby girl. This woman is in love with me but is so scared to leave her husband thinking that he will kill her or lose her child. She says he wasn't a bad guy in the beginning and that he can change. I told her that guy wont change and they're all nice in the beginning its nothing but a cycle. I love her and care about her but I'm scared for her because this punk has tried to kill her before and in my heart I know that it's going to go to far and she's going to end up dead and her child wont have either parent. Soon he will be out here with the baby and I dont know what to do when that happens. She told me she'd go crazy without me in her life and that she's going to still want me around even though she knows she's going to get beat everyday just for talking to me. I dont want that to happen and I dont know weather to just leave her life or what when he comes out here. I told her to just leave him and I'd protect her but she said she'd be okay getting beat and told me to just stay in her life. I'm doing all I can to open her eyes. I'm building up her self esteem, showing her her self worth, taking her out, doing what her husband doesn't do and just doing everything in my power to show her what real love is. I'm hoping I can help give her that strength to get out of that situation. Everytime it seems like progress is made she pulls back later and gets scared. I dont know what to do for this woman I love her and care so damn much but it feels so hopeless sometimes. Is there anything I can do to help her get out of this mess? I'm so confused and apparently I'm making her confused. Should I just leave her alone so they can try to make things work? I told her if I was to leave her I'd still be around and if it doesn't work out with him I'd be there to pick up the pieces in the end. We work together so I'd still see her but if she ever came to work with bruises I'd beat her husbands ass along with a lot of my friends, sometimes he just beats her for fun and its sick. I dont know what to do or how to help the situation and I know at the end of the day it's on her to make the decision and choose. But if there's anything I can do to help her out of this ima do it. Any suggestions or advice on what I should do? I chose you because basicly you've been there before. If it were you and had someone else came along and tried to help you out of that situation what are some things they could have said or done to help you out?? I'm sorry I wrote so much and rambled I just love this girl and I'm scared for her and her child. If you read this thank you so much for your time. I'm sorry I just don't know who to turn to for advice right now.

ANSWER: Dear Confused,
Thank you for writing me with this issue.  It is a very difficult thing to see someone we care about going through difficulties such as this.  I'm sorry that my response may not be what you would like to hear, but it is very unlikely that you can do anything to change what is going on.

These are very complicated issues and it sounds like you don't even understand what you are asking for by getting involved with this woman.  She is have no authority in her life or her family.  That is the first thing to consider, and if her husband decides to target you because you have overstepped your boundaries...and his....he can be more dangerous than you anticipate.  These individuals have the capability to think in ways that you don't understand.  This is why she is afraid of him.  

When I read your comments, one of the questions that came to mind was why she left the baby with him?  If he is that dangerous, most women would either stay to protect their child, or take the child with them when they left.  That is somewhat of a red flag here.

Not that it is acceptable, but there are many reasons why a person is violent.  Many times they are mentally ill, sometimes there are substances involved etc.  I understand what you are saying about "beating his ass", but I can guarantee you that won't solve anything.  Yes, she needs to get away from him, her child needs to be away from him, but that motivation has to come from her.  It isn't a matter of opening her eyes to better living, better treatment etc, it is a matter of her healing from whatever belief systems she has about herself that have drawn her into unhealthy relationships.  To be honest, the relationship that you have with her isn't particularly healthy either.  If she is okay getting beaten, there is something wrong with thinking processes.

The healthiest thing for you to do is not get involved in a situation that you have no control over.  You have no authority, on any level, to solve her problems.  Don't be waiting in the wings, don't be a safety net for her so she can get from you what she isn't getting in her marriage, which then allows her to stay in it.  If she leaves him, if she gets herself into counseling to solve the problems in her own life, then she might be relationship material but I wouldn't wait around for that.

The other thing that I would ask you is what you are getting out of this?  That might be something for you to look at as well.  This is not a healthy situation.  Are you both using each other on some level, and if so, for what?

I'm sorry that you find yourself in this very complicated situation.  If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to write again.  I wish you all the best as you consider the information I have given you.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hey thanks for the answer and taking the time I really appreciate it. Especially because it wasn't sugar coated I respect that. The reason why she left the baby with him is because she was on drugs at the time so her mom that lives out here drove down and took her. She's been clean now and going to church. Sense I've wrote you last she's made progress, as you said she has to see things for herself. She's getting a divorce, I guess she finally realized that abuse isn't normal nor are death threats. Right now she's figuring out how to tell him she's in love with someone else. I love her so I guess thats what I'm getting out of it. Right now I'm not to concerned with me being a target but I'm worried about her being a target and him maybe getting crazy and hurting the kid. I dont know the guy so I just know some people will hurt their own kids just to get back at their spouse hopefully he's not that crazy. We're making safety plans at the moment were both always armed not that we want it to go that far or anyone to get hurt. Regardless thats her baby's daddy even though he's an asshole I hope after a bit of time both of them can be in their kids life you know. Do you think that she should tell him straight up that shes in love with someone else? Or will that make him more violent? Oh man this whole thing sucks but if you love someone you love em. I don't know what I should tell her to tell him. I told her to just do and say what feels right. If you want you can write advice straight to her and ill show her because I dont know what to do or say to her at this point all I know is whatever happens she chose me so I gotta be there now. Once again thank you for your answer.

Dear Confused,
I think she is taking some very good steps.  If I were in her situation, I would not tell him I am leaving him for another man.  That would more than likely bring up an emotional response that you wouldn't want.  His behavior alone is appropriate justification for leaving, safety reasons etc.  

I can't diagnose a person, but the behavior that you have described might fall into a category of personality disorders.  If you want to look at a website that could give you some insight into that, go to and look at the symptoms.  If those tend to correlate with what is happening, there is a good chance you could be dealing with someone like that.  If that is the case, they can be very violent, impulsive and manipulative.  She would be better to make that determination after looking at the website than I.  If she were to determine this is more than likely the case, then I would be very careful how you deal with this person.  The truth or reality is then determined by how he perceives what is happening rather than by what may be truly happening. If those symptoms don't seem to fit, she might research Narcissistic Personality Disorder as well as Anti-Social Personality Disorder.

You are both in a very precarious situation, but prayer does help and if she is going to church, she probably has somewhat of a support system there.  

Thank you for writing back and again, I wish you well as you go forward with this situation.

Domestic Violence

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Kriss Mitchell, M.Ed, CRC, CNHP


I am able to answer questions with regard to problems that result from emotional abuse or physical abuse in both dating and marriage relationships. Having been in an abusive relationship for many years, I know first hand the feelings, the questions and the doubts we go through as we try to make decisions about our lives. Often victims of abuse have deep faith based concerns regarding staying in these kinds of relationships which I am able to address as well.


My background started as a victim of an emotionally abusive relationship as well as having family members who were victims of violence and physical abuse. I have gone on to become a professional counselor and I work with abused women.

American Mental Health Counselors Association, American Association of Christian Counselors, International Association of Prayer Counselors

I currently maintain a blog at I also have links and currently written articles on my website at You can also follow me on TWITTER @livingwellcc, or on facebook at Living Well Counseling and Consulting. My writings have appeared in The Good News Northwest and the North Idaho Business Journal

Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Certified Natural Health Professional

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