When Your Homegirl Is Being Abused

Ask Demetria: Lending emotional support is the best way to help a friend in a violent relationship.


My suspicions were confirmed when I spotted her boyfriend. He was stalking around the apartment like some sort of caged animal, inhaling from his Newport and flicking the ashes on my girl’s brand-new rug.

Over the next 10 minutes, he stubbed out the cigarette on her suede sofa — also new — poured cognac on it and eventually pushed her against the wall. She tripped over her ottoman and bumped her head on the floor. She was crying hysterically as I helped her up — not injured, just scared — and she begged me to call the police on him.

I didn’t, for a couple of reasons. One, if she got hit, was capable of calling and didn’t, she really didn’t want to. It wasn’t my place to call the cops on her man. And two, if he was bold enough to do all that in front of me, this wasn’t the first time — or likely even the fourth or fifth time — it had happened, and they were still together. That was a regular part of their relationship, so much so that they forgot how crazy it was and did it in front of another person.

As it turned out, just the threat of calling the police was enough to get him to leave, and after he did, she and I talked for a long while. She swore the relationship was over. I talked to her a week later to check up. She said she hadn’t talked to him. The following month, I showed up to meet her at a party. Guess who was there?  

I said hello to him as if nothing had happened. She thanked me after the party for not mentioning anything to anyone we knew and not making a scene that night. I felt complicit in their dysfunction.

That incident at my friend’s house really affected me. I had never seen a man act like that before, and my girl didn’t fit my idea of the “type” of woman who would put up with that. But she was. (There is no “type,” really.) And I realized that there was nothing I could do about it. She had to want more for herself.

Eventually she did. But it wasn’t because of anything I did or said. She finally got tired of the drama and found her freedom.

Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at askdemetria@theroot.com.

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