My friend told me her husband hits her. They've been married about 18 months and have a baby girl who isn't even a year old. She said it all began after her daughter was born. She has been calling me a lot and saying he’s hit her. She thinks he is planning to take her daughter away from her.
She doesn't want to tell her family. I think she feels ashamed to tell them, but she also said they would hurt him. I told her I could help her if she left him, but she says she wants to make it work. I don't know if I should mind my own business or tell her family or what. I'm afraid for her and her child. What do you think I should do?
Battered wives syndrome doesn't take long to take root in a woman's life, especially when a child is involved. His abuse has paralyzed her, leaving her immobile and feeling helpless. This is further illustrated by the concern she feels for the same person who is hitting her. That she wants the marriage to work indicates her family has in some way conveyed to her that, abused or not, it is her job to make it work.
There is no minding your own business. By telling you what's happened, she's made it your business. Naturally you are concerned about her and her child - and rightfully so. Abusive situations don't get better by themselves; they almost always get worse.
Offers to help are lost on her because she can't see to the other side of what's being offered. All she sees is what she is sure will happen: harm to her husband and the loss of her daughter. She's more concerned about her husband and their marriage than she is about herself and her daughter. This is all the more alarming because an injured mother in an abusive relationship is not in the best state to be taking care of a baby. She is not seeing things in their proper perspective.
As soon as possible, call and speak to someone at your local domestic violence center. Ask if you can arrange to visit their office in person. A face-to-face discussion with an experienced and qualified professional may go a long ways in easing your concerns about reporting it. Most centers do not allow shelter visits or disclose the location of their shelters, but most do have an office at a different location.