I wish Ask Luci had a theme song so I could introduce it every week without feeling weird and repetitive. But I don’t. And it’s Thursday. So it’s time for Ask Luci! TW – this post deals with domestic violence.
My question is about how to deal with the abusive girlfriend of a co-worker. The back-story is that my co-worker came in one day last year with a black eye, and after being asked how it happened for about a week, admitted that his girlfriend had done it. Some of us encouraged him to break up with her, but he decided not to, even though he said that the relationship probably wasn’t going anywhere.
Now, for whatever reason, she’s started dropping in at work every now and then, hanging out for a couple of hours or so. We have a casual work environment, so it’s not a big deal to have her around and nobody’s going to tell her to leave or anything. I think that I might be expected to talk to her at some point, because it’s normal to talk to visitors and because I do sometimes hang out with her boyfriend (my co-worker). Also, I’m not romantically interested in the guy at all and vice versa, but I guess she might be a jealous type and I’m not sure if he’s mentioned that we hang out sometimes. I just don’t want to set her off in any way. Any thoughts as to what approach to take with her?
My plan had been to mostly just ignore her at the risk of looking a bit rude/snobby, and I could just do that. But I wrote in because I figure that dealing with abusive SOs is a problem that will pop up for a disturbingly large proportion of the readers at some point, so it might be a good topic for discussion. Thanks!
Well, I first want to say that for anyone who is currently in a relationship and experiencing domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit their website here. And just a disclaimer that if you know someone who is being abused and is in imminent danger, you should call 911. But it’s best not to call 911 unless you are concerned for the victim’s immediate safety, otherwise getting the police involved could put the abused person at more risk.
To address your question, reader, I think you’re fine in staying out of the way of your co-worker’s girlfriend. If she thinks you’re a bitch, then she thinks you’re a bitch. There’s really no telling what will set an abuser off, the domestic violence survivor might know some or most of their abuser’s triggers, but that’s still no guarantee that they won’t abuse again even if the abused person acts “perfect.” So if you’re worried about her being jealous, you’re probably fine in socializing with her minimally or not at all.
It sounds like you’re also wondering how to help your friend, too. The best thing you can do when you know that someone is being abused is to be supportive, let them know that you’re concerned and that you care about them. Let them know that you don’t think their relationship is healthy, but do so without judgement if they decide to stay in that relationship. In your situation, you may consider letting your co-worker know that you’re still concerned about his relationship and let him know you’re keeping your distance from his girlfriend. Ask him how he feels about that, he may feel like it’s not a big deal and he wants you to socialize with his girlfriend. If you feel comfortable doing that, you can, but it’s not like you’re under any professional obligation to hang out with this woman at your work.
I hope this helps. Readers can offer their tips as always.
Remember to submit your questions to Ask Luci, you can do it anonymously on my tumblr or email them to lucifurious at persephonemagazine.com. I keep all identities private. See you next week!