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Advice Sought : Intervening on an Enabler

Old 03-05-2014, 12:07 PM
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Advice Sought : Intervening on an Enabler

Hello everyone,

I am here because I feel lost at sea regarding a close friend and her family. I am speaking on behalf of myself and a few concerned friends. We are looking for advice and are considering how to intervene on the situation. Most online resources only give information regarding intervening on the addict, and not the enabler.

The situation:

Her husband has had a mild drinking problem since we've known him but in the last 2 years it has gotten so bad that her denial of the problem has increased to match it. He drinks daily to the point of drunkenness. He is a stay at home dad while she works. He has increasingly shut us out, we do not see him if it's not with her.

In the past she has come to us for support regarding how to address the issue and we have tried to be there for her, but now there is no talking about it. According to her things have "never been better". Even recent incidents with his drunk behavior in our presence have not been acknowledged, so much that we feel like we are losing her as a friend. We have left the door open to talk and support but there has been no response. We have been tactful in how we have done this, but it's gotten so bad it is no longer possible for us to pretend everything is ok as she says.

She is a very loving mother, very hard working and strong willed; she does not ask for help often. Sadly she also does not have support from anywhere else whether friends or family. We have known her since before she met him and have been like family to her in place of her own.

The situation became very serious recently when we received information which she does not know regarding a sexual assault/attempted rape (police were not involved) against one of their close friends. The person who was assaulted wants nothing to do with them any more and does not want us to let her know about the assault.

This puts us in a very difficult situation, we feel powerless and at the same time like we must act. They have a small child and we care about all of them dearly. We feel like if we do not confront her enabling behavior the situation will get much worse and we will lose any ability to help we have at the moment.

Our fear is that she denies any problem and pushes us away entirely when we try to reach out and that we lose any ability to help them.

Does anyone have any experience with dealing with this and general advice?

Thank you
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:22 PM
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Sorry you and your friends are going through this. Honestly though, there really isn't anything you can do. Denial is a very powerful force in an alcoholic relationship.
I am concerned about the sexual assault. I understand not wanting to report it, but their friend is not doing anyone any favors (including herself) by sweeping this under the rug.
Right now you really can't do anything except be there for your friend and her child. Maybe at some point she will be ready to reach out for help. Any pushing on your part will likely only result in resentment and more denial.
One thing I did with my axb's mother who is also an enabler was to slip some Alanon literature in with the handmade Valentines my son made for her. Don't know if it had any effect, but maybe if she gets desperate enough she'll check out a meeting. And it made me feel better.
Have you tried an Alanon meeting? That helped me get over the powerless/MUST ACT NOW feeling that used to plague my life. Plus you can pick up some literature to "accidentally" leave at your friend's house.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ladyscribbler View Post
I am concerned about the sexual assault. I understand not wanting to report it, but their friend is not doing anyone any favors (including herself) by sweeping this under the rug.
I agree, yet at the same time we have no power force our friend to pursue the issue. She had a nervous breakdown after the incident and I can understand her not wanting to deal with it any more in any way in order to be able to get on with her own life. So unfortunately that avenue is a non-starter.

We are however going to check out a local Alanon meeting this very evening.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:39 PM
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I agree, there really isn't anything you can do.

In my experience, I never really saw how bad things were with my AW. I had all sorts of excuses for her behavior. I couldn't accept that anything was wrong until I hit my bottom.

Said to say for enablers the alcoholic is our drug of choice. If we weren't so focused on their problems and issues and covering for them and so-on we might actually have to look at how pitiful our lives had become.

Your friend,
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:54 PM
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I was very much like you describe your friend:
She is a very loving mother, very hard working and strong willed; she does not ask for help often. Sadly she also does not have support from anywhere else whether friends or family.
and I'm not saying that to pat myself on the back. Most of us codependents fit that description. The part about not having support, you have kind of explained yourself -- we don't have support because we don't seek support. Whether it's because we're in denial or because we're ashamed doesn't really matter.

I had several friends over a period of 20 years who offered to help me -- get me a place to stay, find me a better job, etc., so that I could get away from AXH. Without exception, I cut every single one of them out of my life for having the audacity to suggest that I needed help and wasn't capable of handling my life without their assistance.

If she is as deep in denial as your story seems to suggest, telling her about the sexual assault won't change a thing. He will have excuses and explanations that paint him as the innocent victim, and she will believe him.

You can invite her to go with you to an Al-Anon meeting. You can continue to be her friend. Other than that, you can only wait. She's like the old hound who sat on a nail on the front porch -- she'll move when it hurts more to stay than to move.
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Old 03-05-2014, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
I cut every single one of them out of my life for having the audacity to suggest that I needed help and wasn't capable of handling my life without their assistance.
Thank you for this... We have been wrecked with guilt over "not acting sooner" while we look for resources, wisdom from those who've been through similar situations and contacting friends who work with recovering addicts.

Your reaction is exactly what we fear from her and I'm glad we have not crossed that line yet.

The Al-Anon meeting we attended this evening was very inspiring and I feel we can confidently encourage her to attend when the opportunity presents itself.

It is very difficult to balance being her friend and not feeling like we are also enabling her denial. If this were any other person I don't think we would feel the same, but she is very close to our hearts and we feel a great deal of responsibility and love towards her child.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:06 PM
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In my personal experience the louder they cry nothing is wrong the more they know it is.

I really don't think your friend is in denial like you think, clearly not, she has talked with you about this before it escalated. What she is…….is at the end of her rope, backed in a corner with no alternatives left but to leave him. As long as she doesn't acknowledge that to another human being she doesn't have to DO anything about it. What you are seeing is just a small pebble of what its really like there at home.

I agree with the others there isn't an awful lot you can do here. I will say this though - if you choose to move forward with talking to her make it a 1 on 1. Could be risking the friendship ……but, but, but……..gee what are friends for except sometimes to tell those things we just don't want to hear.

As for the sexual assault - it is most unfortunate charges weren't filed.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:47 PM
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This is painful to me to read. I have only had one friend offer to go to a meeting with me. I think inviting her would be touching.

I wonder what he is doing to her?
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:04 PM
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If he's bold enough to sexually assault an acquaintance, who knows what he does to her behind closed doors. If there is a Domestic Violence/Women's Shelter in your area, you may want to ask them for suggestions also. It sounds like the drinking is only part of the problem.
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:27 PM
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I agree with the others who say to just wait and be her friend. Maybe Al-Anon will help you gain some new perspective on the situation. I think your friend needs to be allowed the dignity to make her own choices about her marriage, Al-Anon, and her life in general.
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:07 AM
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He is a stay at home DAD? Forget the mom and forget the person who does not want to let out what he has done. Think about the kids. Tell her and also let her know that DCFS will have to be involved if she does not act.

Someone has to protect the children and be an advocate for them. I would think if it is to the extent you say it is, they are in a miserable and very unsafe environment.

I am not trying to sound harsh and don't mean "Forget" the mom. I simply mean the children should be #1 in this situation and the mother should be informed and given the opportunity to act. If she does not, someone else needs to step in.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:10 AM
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From the other side of the fence: I started my Al-Anon program a little while ago, and my ABF's mother is a HUGE worry-wart and Drama Queen of EPIC proportions. She always wants to know what's going on, how things are, if we're OK, if we're treating each other well...etc. I love her dearly and appreciate her concern, but I always brush things off as OK, just fine, etc. - EVEN THOUGH I HAVE MOVED OUT.

I NEVER discuss anything about my ABF with her, and stick only to the facts about what I'm up to...if I choose to (such as, "OH, work has been so busy...the weather has been rough, hasn't it?....etc."). I'm not saying that you and your friends are worry-warts or drama queens by any means! I'm pointing out the fact that to an outsider my responses to her may seem like I'm enabling or denying there's a problem, when, in fact, I'm VERY aware of what's going on and have chosen not to share MY side of the street with her.

I had shared with her just how bad the situation is on previous occasions, and she has nearly ALWAYS made appropriate sounds, but her reactions are nothing other than EXTREME enabling (even giving him her methadone). So, for my own health and sanity, I chose not to talk about these issues with certain people...not because I deny they are happening, but because I don't want to share them at that time with those people.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:42 AM
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I totally agree with hopeful4!!! Protect the kids. If my husband sexually assaulted one of our friends and no one told me about it, I would not consider them friends. No matter how hurt I would be. Especially if the assaulter took care of our children full time!!!
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Mellybug View Post
I NEVER discuss anything about my ABF with her, and stick only to the facts about what I'm up to...if I choose to (such as, "OH, work has been so busy...the weather has been rough, hasn't it?....etc."). I'm not saying that you and your friends are worry-warts or drama queens by any means! I'm pointing out the fact that to an outsider my responses to her may seem like I'm enabling or denying there's a problem, when, in fact, I'm VERY aware of what's going on and have chosen not to share MY side of the street with her.
This is an interesting perspective.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:54 AM
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He is a stay at home DAD? Forget the mom and forget the person who does not want to let out what he has done. Think about the kids. Tell her and also let her know that DCFS will have to be involved if she does not act.
I agree with this, only I think contacting DCFS or CPS without contacting the mom first is the best course of action. Those children cannot help themselves and obviously cannot rely on either of their parents to put their best interests first. If their parent is sexually abusing people AND an active alcoholic then he's not fit to be home alone with small children all day long.
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Old 03-06-2014, 12:52 PM
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If their parent is sexually abusing people AND an active alcoholic then he's not fit to be home alone with small children all day long.
Seconded.
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Old 03-06-2014, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by twotwothree View Post
We feel like if we do not confront her enabling behavior the situation will get much worse and we will lose any ability to help we have at the moment.
Can I gently ask why you're considering confronting her about her enabling behavior rather than talking to her about her safety and well-being and that of her child(ren)?

SA is about control. If her AH has assaulted one of their friends, as her friend, I'd be worried about how he might be trying to exert control in his house as well.

I'm a survivor of intimate partner rape and domestic violence, so, perhaps my experience is coloring how I read the information you provided. However, AXH assaulted not only me, but his next GF. His controlling behavior isn't limited to just one person, it's how he deals with relationships.
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