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Dear Tuffy Luv,
I’m a nineteen-year-old sophomore. I have been seeing this guy R for almost a year. He doesn’t go to my college but he did go to a tech school close to his hometown. I really like him and he really likes me (he tells me all the time), but he is really insecure and is under is Dad’s thumb. For as long as R can remember his dad has been telling him he’ll never amount to anything. On top of that, his dad is mentally, emotionally, verbally and physically abusive towards him, his siblings and his mom.
R tells me all the time that he will NEVER be like his father (and if he starts I’ll be LONG GONE). R’s mom doesn’t really say much but I know she thinks that I’m good for him, but his Dad has a MAJOR problem with me. I think it’s because I ’empower’ R to stand up to his Dad, not only for himself but for his mom (he got in his Dad’s face one day when R’s dad started yelling at his mom). And he has given his Dad a black eye when he started messing with me. Soooo, I think because of this, R’s dad is trying to keep me away from him. What in the world do I do about his dad? I am very respectful and I do as I am told (my parents’ upbringing) and I know what to do on a farm. What do I do?
What’s up with him?
Dear What’s Up,
Um…I’m glad you know what to do on a farm. That’s…reassuring.
Okay, here’s what you do: NOTHING. You hear me, kiddo?! R’s relationship with his dad is NOT YOUR BUSINESS.
I mean, yes, okay. You care about him, and you want him to be well. Therefore, you must be a good and supportive girlfriend, yes? Give him a place to crash if things get bad at home. Listen to him when he needs to talk about it. And definitely, as you say, “empower” him to not put up with his dad’s crap.
BUT!!! Do NOT tell him to give his dad a black eye. (Um, do you REALLY want your emotionally raw, physically abused boyfriend to start getting punchy?! Answer: NO.) Do NOT tell him to stand up to his dad. Do NOT TELL HIM TO DO ANYTHING.
You’re 19 and you’ve been dating this guy for less than a year. You have absolutely no idea what floop is actually going on with this family. I guarantee you, no matter what he’s told you, there are secrets that you won’t find out for years to come (or, you know, ever). You don’t know what kind of consequences any of your actions might have, and do you know why? Because you have absolutely no way to become informed.
It’s like…say you wanna buy a toaster. Right? So you go into the store. But your internet’s down, and all the brochures in the world have been burned. You know, the usual. So, instead of waiting to see what the actual info is, you buy whichever toaster seems like the best choice based on a few glances up and down the aisle. And you take it home and set it up–and it burns your house down.
Yeah. That’s right. And all your little shoes, too.
Okay, you get my point.
R needs to get away from his dad, for sure. Unfortunately, it sounds like his presence is also protecting his mother, which is very sad but unfortunately very common.
Here’s what you CAN do for R:
(1) Help him make a plan. This is like his, you know, getaway vehicle and shoop. He gots to have a place to go, and he gots to go there. So the two of you can start figuring out a budget for him, what kind of job he can get (and he’s got to actually get it), and where he can get a place to stay (pref not with you–it’s a little early, donchathink?).
(2) Find some brochures on domestic abuse and/or domestic abuse hotlines. Here are a couple of places to start:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: http://www.thehotline.org/
Safe Horizon: http://www.safehorizon.org/
On the domestic abuse stuff, and this is very important: DO NOT GIVE THEM TO R’S MOTHER!!! Give them to R and HE should give them to her. It’s too humiliating coming from you, and, frankly, it’s not really your place to point it out. Coming from you, it’s judgmental. Coming from R, it’s loving.
Seriously, basically, you need to stay AWAY from R’s dad. Stop hanging out at their house. Avoid avoid avoid. And DO NOT MEDDLE. This is R’s family, not yours. All you can do is help steer him in the right direction.
And, dear readers, please–if you or someone you love is being abused, seek help before it’s too late. You can start at the sites above, or get some more info at here. It can get better. Get help.
Hearts & Skulls,
[Got anything to add to Tuffy’s advice? Let it all out below. Oh, and get more Tough Love right here. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.]
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