Dear Dr. NerdLove:
When my wife and I divorced a year ago, I very quickly began a long distance relationship with an old flame. We saw each other a few times, sexted, and stayed in touch, although there were plenty of fights that probably wouldn’t have happened if we were in the same city. You know, a long distance relationship.
This past summer, she revealed that her alcoholic husband had been getting drunk and physically abusing her, pretty regularly, but she always played it down and changed the subject (although she’s the one who brought it up). I’ve tried to respect her wishes and not talk about it, and then she’d talk about it and do everything she could to convince me that he’s not a bad guy.
This came to a head the other day, when she announced that her husband had asked her to move out. While discussing that, she texted that he was punching her in the ribs and wouldn’t stop, and she sent me a video where the camera was pointed at the floor, his voice was drunkenly belittling her, and she was screaming for him to stop. So I called the police in her city and explained the situation. The police called me back, said she was uncooperative (she wouldn’t even confirm her name with them), intoxicated, and completely unmarked. She chewed me out over text for doing that and making things worse, but the next day, she told me that her husband was so drunk that he doesn’t even remember hitting her.
I have rebuilt my life after a devastating divorce. I have a handful of friends, a new job, a great apartment, and exciting prospects creatively. I am battling bipolar 2, which means epic depressive episodes if I’m not careful. I don’t want to abandon Flame, but I can’t rescue her. I don’t even know what she’s hoping to accomplish by telling me and sending me these videos. I just know that she is in this situation, and even though he’s beating her and throwing her out of her home, she’s still on his side. I don’t want that in my life. She’s bad for my health. But again, I don’t want to abandon her.
And in case it needs a little more flair, this whole abuse thing might be fake. She has, in the past, demonstrated that she’s willing to exaggerate something and lie to make a point. The video she sent made me suspicious for various reasons. I haven’t seen any evidence that supports her abuse, I’m just taking it on face value. I won’t assume she is faking it, and I will never accuse her of that, but it is still a possibility that sits in my head as I ponder all of this.
I don’t know what to do. She needs help. I can’t give it to her. I don’t want her in my life anymore, but I can’t leave her alone like this. Your input would be greatly appreciated.
I’m So Very, Very Tired