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DivaDiamond007

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Okay PS''ers I need some advice about a very good friend of mine. I apologize in advance if this gets long.

I have been friends with "T" since 7th grade (we are now 27). T''s parents have never liked me much and she is very sheltered. She had three much older brothers and one died in a car accident several years ago. Last year her grandmother died and earlier this year her mother died. Her parents did not have a good relationship, slept in separate bedrooms, and were basically roommates. When T''s grandmother died her father moved into the grandmother''s house. When T''s mother died T moved into the grandmother''s house with her father. Ever since then it seems that T''s father is completely running her life. She quit her job (although if she didn''t she would have been fired - long story) and has no intention of getting another one anytime soon. She basically eats and sleeps and has put on weight (she''s overweight to begin with).

We used to get together at least once a week and just hang out - go to the mall, see a movie whatever. Now, every move she makes has to be cleared through her father. Also, it seems that he''s a party to our phone conversations - i.e. it sounds to me like the phone is on speaker because I can hear him too clearly in the background if that makes sense. When she does come to hang out (always at my place) she constantly checks in with him - he either calls her or she calls him - and she leaves very early. Just last week she came over and planned on staying for dinner. Shortly before dinner was ready her father called and she bolted. This is very unlike her.

She cooks, cleans, does the shopping among other things for her father. I realize that T''s father just lost his wife and that he is likely still grieving but it seems like he is taking advantage of T. He''s a grown man and has never needed assistance before. I understand that T should "pull her own weight" in the household, but it''s like she''s become his slave. I am also worried that he is abusing her in other ways as well. It''s too painful for me to even type it out.

How do I approach T about my concerns? We have been best friends for a long time and I am comfortable talking to her about anything and everything, but I do not want T to pull away or become defensive because I am genuinely concerned for her health and safety. Any advice is much appreciated.
 

purrfectpear

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If you are hinting that daddy has replaced his wife with his daughter in an intimate way, I can''t imagine how you''d go about having that conversation


If she is a party to that, then nothing you will say is likely to make any difference IMO.
 

Porridge

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Oct 27, 2008
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Wow Diva. This is so awful and strange I don''t know what to tell you. You definitely don''t want to drive her away, it almost sounds like you''re her last link to the outside world. This is extremely delicate, to the point where I don''t feel at all equipped to give advice. Would you think about seeing a counselor to guide you through this? I''m so sorry, I hope things work out.
 

cara

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Sounds abusive. Even if not sexual, that degree of controlling actions and isolation from others is a bad sign.

I think... you want to consult counselor for advice as others have said. You might consider looking up advice for how friends can talk to other potential abuse victims (more typical girlfriend/wife abused by partner) without isolating them further but the additional complexities of this unusual relationship may warrant professional advice.
 

Italiahaircolor

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Before you even got to the part about your "suspicions" I kind of had a weird vibe from your posting...

I don''t know how you would approach the subject other than with open arms and honesty. Clearly their family is in a trasitional period, and she may be acting out her pain through over eatting and isolation, which isn''t rare when...but, there could absolutely be something more disgusting under the surface.
How is your friends general personality? Is she receptive to advice or comfort or inquires?

If she is, I would sit her down the next time she''s over and have a heart to heart. Maybe not verbalizing the "is your father..." part flat out...but rather approach the subject by asking her if she''s okay, if there is anything you can do...opening the door can sometimes ease the angst the person may feel. Letting her know that you''re her safe place may start putting the wheels in motion. Right now, if she is being abused, she may feel like no one would believe her and she would have no where to go...by letting her know that you will support her may give her the confidence to confront her current situation.

DivaDiamond, I am so sorry your friend is going through this...but you''re clearly a wonderful person for caring so much. I hope that your worst fears are not realized. Please keep us posted.
 

Bia

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Hmmmm. Well, just because she is spending more time at home, and her father is increasingly dependent on her (or vice versa) doesn't mean anything is going on. If they are a close family, this might be their way of coping. Her excessive weight gain could be a symptom of her already depressed state. It's not uncommon for people to gain weight (even more weight in her case) after losing a loved one. Maybe she's feeling down, and is hiding at home. She could be in a comfort zone when she's home. Weight gain or sadness about losing her mom could also be reasons that she doesn't want to go out to begin with.

Family dynamics are unique to each family. I'm not saying your friend sounds like she's in a healthy state, because quite honestly, she sounds like she could use some help, but that's not to say her family dynamic should sound an alarm. If anything, I would express to her that you're concerned that she's spending so much time at home. Try giving her a reason to want to go out with you, i.e., joining a class, treat her to dinner and movie, something else fun.

I hope everything works out. You sound like a great friend, btw.

ETA: The listening in on phone calls, that does seem odd.
 

AmberGretchen

Ideal_Rock
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7,770
I agree with Italia''s advice, and also with those who said to seek out a counselor to speak to about this. I think its so important that you be there for her and make it clear you are open to whatever she may have to say, but also not push her so hard she clams up. That''s a tough balance to strike.

You are being a wonderful friend for being so concerned about this situation - I truly hope there is nothing worse than shifting family dynamics and misguided dependence as a result of grief going on, but either way, she is lucky to have a friend who cares so much.
 

purrfectpear

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What point does it stop being "abuse" and where does it just become "participating in incest"?

She''s 27 now. Can you abuse someone that is an adult without their participation? Isn''t there some point where we need to take responsibility for our own actions? Just wondering, as I think if you''re above 21 you need to be able to verbalize NO. If you won''t say NO, then you aren''t being abused, you''re choosing to allow intimacy (and reprehensible behavior).

What are your thoughts about responsibilities after 21?
 

Aloros

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Date: 3/26/2009 5:08:06 PM
Author: purrfectpear
What point does it stop being ''abuse'' and where does it just become ''participating in incest''?

She''s 27 now. Can you abuse someone that is an adult without their participation? Isn''t there some point where we need to take responsibility for our own actions? Just wondering, as I think if you''re above 21 you need to be able to verbalize NO. If you won''t say NO, then you aren''t being abused, you''re choosing to allow intimacy (and reprehensible behavior).

What are your thoughts about responsibilities after 21?
I don''t know, purrfectpear. I think when someone is very sheltered, they can emotionally and mentally be much younger than their actual age.


I''m in agreement with the others. Talk to a counselor, get some advice on how to talk to her. I can''t imagine how I''d broach the subject.
 

cara

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Date: 3/26/2009 5:08:06 PM
Author: purrfectpear
What point does it stop being 'abuse' and where does it just become 'participating in incest'?

She's 27 now. Can you abuse someone that is an adult without their participation? Isn't there some point where we need to take responsibility for our own actions? Just wondering, as I think if you're above 21 you need to be able to verbalize NO. If you won't say NO, then you aren't being abused, you're choosing to allow intimacy (and reprehensible behavior).


What are your thoughts about responsibilities after 21?
One does not need to be a child to be in an abusive relationship. A battered wife is not a child, yet is being abused. Just because she could, in theory, leave, does not make it a non-abusive relationship if she stays. Perhaps a more apt comparison is an adult manipulated into a sexual relationship with their pastor or psychologist. Just because the victim is an adult does not mitigate that they are in an unusually vulnerable position relative to the other person in their relationship, which is why such relationships are generally morally wrong and the pastor or doctor is usually viewed as more responsible, because they are supposed to be more responsible. However, the degree of wrongness does depend on the circumstances.

Nor does the information provided here seem to characterize a healthy, consensual relationship. The signs that Diva has personally observed (monitoring of whereabouts, isolation from others, depression symptoms) all are not good indicators of mental health and they are also signs of an abusive relationship. Whether or not there is also sexual abuse is less certain, but *if* there is, I am inclined to say that, absent contradictory information about this particular instance, that parents are capable of exerting extensive influence over their children and to use that influence to forward a sexual relationship is highly wrong, and is much more wrong than being the child manipulated into such a relationship.

Your average boss has less leverage and psychological grip on an employee than a parent on an adult child, yet it is still both wrong and illegal for a boss to coerce their employee into a sexual relationship. Of course, a boss/employee relationship can be legal under different circumstances.
 

cara

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Diva, I just wanted to clarify... Part of why I am suggesting talking to someone professional is that I can see of no way of explicitly raising the possible incest in a way that is not explosive. I don''t know that you should try, as it might do too much damage to your relationship with her and you don''t want to isolate her further. My instinct is that you should gently raise other possible symptoms of abuse which are also serious, but not so extreme, that you have more personally observed. However, not being anything more than an internet peanut, I think this warrants a call to an abuse hotline or a counselor visit on your part to get some more professional advice... There are consequences to raising it wrong.
 

purrfectpear

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Mar 31, 2008
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4,079
Please don''t misunderstand...I absolutely think that it would be wrong for a parent to commit incest with their son or daughter and that it can be an "abusive" relationship. I just think that once you are an adult, you don''t get to hide behind the "whoa is me, I''m being abused" and duck any responsibility. As you mention, wives can be in abusive relationships, and the abuser is clearly in the wrong. That doesn''t mean that the wife doesn''t bear some responsibility if they continue to stay after the first occurrence. Smack me once, shame on you. Smack me twice, shame on me.

OP says her friend quit her job, doesn''t want another one, and is OK with living off her dad. It sounds like there are two parties to whatever is going on and probably neither one are coming from a place of emotional health. Anyway, this is clearly beyond anything that a friend can really fix.
 

cara

Ideal_Rock
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Mar 21, 2006
Messages
2,202
Who''s trying to hide or duck responsibility? Diva''s just a concerned friend wondering if/how she should say something. Does that mean it is her responsibility to "fix" it? No. But same as if you noticed that your good friend of many years was sporting suspicious bruises and her boyfriend was controlling, at some point a concerned comment or question is warranted. Because she is a human concerned about another human. To just say, "Oh, well she''s an adult, she''s responsible for staying with the jerk" sounds awfully coldhearted to me.

Maybe there is no abuse in this case and just an unhealthy, codependent relationship combined with some depression. That still warrants bringing up at some point, on the off chance it spurs some corrective action from her friend.
 

Kaleigh

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Joined
Nov 18, 2004
Messages
29,570
Diva,
Oh my, this is not good. I would try to talk to T. I don''t know if she will "hear" you. But you can try. This sounds very disfunctional, and sick. I hate to hear stories like this. I am a survivor but was a child.

I''d hate for you to think you can solve this, you can''t. You can be a good friend and lend an ear. But sounds like it''s a case for serious counseling.

I feel for you, no one would want to see this going on. You just want to shout, this isn''t right!!!!!!


Does she have siblings that you are close to? Anyone else that may see this as you do?

HUGS for trying to help, you are a good friend. But I have to tell you, don''t get caught up in it. Yanno??
 

DivaDiamond007

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Date: 3/26/2009 3:23:25 PM
Author: Porridge
Wow Diva. This is so awful and strange I don''t know what to tell you. You definitely don''t want to drive her away, it almost sounds like you''re her last link to the outside world. This is extremely delicate, to the point where I don''t feel at all equipped to give advice. Would you think about seeing a counselor to guide you through this? I''m so sorry, I hope things work out.
I know that she was seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist for a little while after her brother died but I don''t know if she still is. If she isn''t then she should be.
 

DivaDiamond007

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Date: 3/26/2009 4:00:54 PM
Author: Italiahaircolor
Before you even got to the part about your ''suspicions'' I kind of had a weird vibe from your posting...

I don''t know how you would approach the subject other than with open arms and honesty. Clearly their family is in a trasitional period, and she may be acting out her pain through over eatting and isolation, which isn''t rare when...but, there could absolutely be something more disgusting under the surface.
How is your friends general personality? Is she receptive to advice or comfort or inquires?

If she is, I would sit her down the next time she''s over and have a heart to heart. Maybe not verbalizing the ''is your father...'' part flat out...but rather approach the subject by asking her if she''s okay, if there is anything you can do...opening the door can sometimes ease the angst the person may feel. Letting her know that you''re her safe place may start putting the wheels in motion. Right now, if she is being abused, she may feel like no one would believe her and she would have no where to go...by letting her know that you will support her may give her the confidence to confront her current situation.

DivaDiamond, I am so sorry your friend is going through this...but you''re clearly a wonderful person for caring so much. I hope that your worst fears are not realized. Please keep us posted.
I know that she''s eating because of her pain and isolation. She''s always had a weight problem for as long as we''ve been friends but it''s getting extreme. She is generally a very happy person, although her family has always been sort of weird, which she tries to hide from others. Like I said initially, she had three older brothers who are much older - I think the surviving two are in their 40''s and we''re in our 20''s. Her parents were extremely conservative, which is why they never really warmed up to me.

When she quit her job I had quite the conversation with her about what she planned on doing and her reply was basically "nothing".
We both know that had she not quit she would have been fired but she is not even thinking about getting another job at this point - and her father is in total control of the money - bascially leaving her with no way out which really concerns me.

I have let her know that she can come stay with me for a bit if absolutely necessary, however, I live with my IL''s and I know that FIL would not want that to happen (FIL is a whole different thread
)
 

DivaDiamond007

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Date: 3/26/2009 4:02:06 PM
Author: Bia
Hmmmm. Well, just because she is spending more time at home, and her father is increasingly dependent on her (or vice versa) doesn''t mean anything is going on. If they are a close family, this might be their way of coping. Her excessive weight gain could be a symptom of her already depressed state. It''s not uncommon for people to gain weight (even more weight in her case) after losing a loved one. Maybe she''s feeling down, and is hiding at home. She could be in a comfort zone when she''s home. Weight gain or sadness about losing her mom could also be reasons that she doesn''t want to go out to begin with.

Family dynamics are unique to each family. I''m not saying your friend sounds like she''s in a healthy state, because quite honestly, she sounds like she could use some help, but that''s not to say her family dynamic should sound an alarm. If anything, I would express to her that you''re concerned that she''s spending so much time at home. Try giving her a reason to want to go out with you, i.e., joining a class, treat her to dinner and movie, something else fun.

I hope everything works out. You sound like a great friend, btw.

ETA: The listening in on phone calls, that does seem odd.
The reason why I am concerned is because her family dynamic has changed drastically since her mother''s death. She was never overly close to her parents and her father was never this controlling before. He''s a weirdo for sure, but he was never this weird. I do encourage her to come hang out as much as possible, but she''s gone from being more independent and pretty much doing what she wants to checking with him about everything - and I don''t think it''s by choice.
 

fieryred33143

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Date: 3/26/2009 8:04:02 PM
Author: purrfectpear

Anyway, this is clearly beyond anything that a friend can really fix.
This is exactly how I feel.

I think that besides voicing your concerns and highly recommending she and her father see a therapist (separately), there isn''t much you can do.
 

DivaDiamond007

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Date: 3/26/2009 5:36:07 PM
Author: Aloros

Date: 3/26/2009 5:08:06 PM
Author: purrfectpear
What point does it stop being ''abuse'' and where does it just become ''participating in incest''?

She''s 27 now. Can you abuse someone that is an adult without their participation? Isn''t there some point where we need to take responsibility for our own actions? Just wondering, as I think if you''re above 21 you need to be able to verbalize NO. If you won''t say NO, then you aren''t being abused, you''re choosing to allow intimacy (and reprehensible behavior).

What are your thoughts about responsibilities after 21?
I don''t know, purrfectpear. I think when someone is very sheltered, they can emotionally and mentally be much younger than their actual age.


I''m in agreement with the others. Talk to a counselor, get some advice on how to talk to her. I can''t imagine how I''d broach the subject.
She is definately emotionally younger than 27. She''s never dated anybody, never kissed anybody and is still a virgin in every way, shape and form. Last summer I had to explain to her what the clitoris was and what it''s purpose is. Everthing she knows about sex she has learned from me - and I think that''s only because I''m comfortable opening up to her and explaining how things work. I guess I sort of feel like if I don''t tell her then nobody will


Purrfect - I wish would wouldn''t insinuate that T is participating in incest because I am truly concerned for her safety and well-being. I''ve known T long enough to know that she would NOT consent to this type of behavior.
 

DivaDiamond007

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Date: 3/26/2009 10:19:22 PM
Author: Kaleigh
Diva,
Oh my, this is not good. I would try to talk to T. I don''t know if she will ''hear'' you. But you can try. This sounds very disfunctional, and sick. I hate to hear stories like this. I am a survivor but was a child.

I''d hate for you to think you can solve this, you can''t. You can be a good friend and lend an ear. But sounds like it''s a case for serious counseling.

I feel for you, no one would want to see this going on. You just want to shout, this isn''t right!!!!!!


Does she have siblings that you are close to? Anyone else that may see this as you do?

HUGS for trying to help, you are a good friend. But I have to tell you, don''t get caught up in it. Yanno??
Her only siblings are her two brothers - and they don''t really want anything to do with her
I am her closest friend and we confide in each other about everything.

I don''t feel like it''s my responsibility to "fix" her life, but I do feel that if she is indeed in a bad situation then I must support her in getting out of it.
 

purrfectpear

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Messages
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Date: 3/27/2009 10:21:59 AM
Author: DivaDiamond007

Purrfect - I wish would wouldn''t insinuate that T is participating in incest because I am truly concerned for her safety and well-being. I''ve known T long enough to know that she would NOT consent to this type of behavior.
My apologies Diva. Perhaps I misunderstood that you were hinting there was something unsavory going on?

What sort of unsafe situation are you alluding to?
 

LaraOnline

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Joined
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Messages
3,365
I think Cara''s comparison of possible dynamics within this relationship to being similar to that of a pastor or psychologist exploiting a situation has a lot of merit.

Long-term family dysfunction can also allow or perpetuate a lot of interaction that from the outside can look pretty bizarre.

It is likely that she is very reliant on your support, that even if she does not have the spirit or the ability to communicate with you in detail about what is going on.

I would attempt to get her to visit with you, and in a safe, private and familiar environment (such as your bedroom, with no-one else around) I would just flat out ask her ''what is going on?''.

You and her are good friends. It is not an unnatural question for such a close friend to ask. She may well be relieved that you have brought it up.
 
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