I have always been conscious that no one ever really knows what goes on behind closed doors, but very recently, I had an insight into a household where there is alcoholism and domestic violence.
And it was not a happy scene…
It has been obvious for a long time that the friend concerned is deeply unhappy. The trust and love has gone. Her life is a rollercoaster. When the husband is not ‘acting up’, she can just about cope, but when he decides to, he makes her life miserable.
As we sat round my friend’s kitchen table, eating supper, chaos ensued. The kids acting up, in reaction to their parents’ situation; the husband in and out of the room, telling his wife and I that we ‘don’t need to whisper’.
I won’t go into the details, but it was mayhem. And I didn’t know whether it would be better if I stayed or left. All I wanted was to know that my friend would be safe.
As I sat opposite her, whilst her husband was out of the room, discussing her husband’s controlling behaviour, I looked at her face. And I couldn’t work out what she wanted me to say to her.
So as ‘honesty’ is allegedly the ‘best policy’ – I said that the whole evening was not normal. That this craziness does not go on in every house. And most importantly, that it was affecting the children.
I have to admit, even though she knows it’s true, I think she wanted to be told and possibly even wanted to believe: ‘don’t worry, it’ll sort itself out – everything will be fine’. But of course, it wont.
Having witnessed an evening of craziness, I can’t even explain how relieved I was when I received an email from her this week, attaching a reply from a charity that helps women suffering from domestic violence and alcoholic partners.
In addition, my friend has got in touch with a counsellor, who I hope will help her regain her confidence, take control and save herself from the situation. Because as much as I want to help, I am fully aware that she has to do it for herself. With support from her friends, of course, but the decisions have to be hers and hers alone.
I was hugely encouraged by the long message she received from the women’s charity she approached. It was sympathetic and supportive and they have offered her help.
I just hope she reaches out and takes it.