Bowles is a licensed clinical social worker currently working
in California as a medical social worker at a county hospital.
She obtained her Master's degree in social work from U.C.L.A.
Since graduating in 1993 she has worked in a variety of settings,
including private practice, with children and families, frail
elderly, and chronically and terminally ill clients. Prior to
becoming a social worker she was a deputy sheriff. She believes
this law enforcement background provided her with an increased
sensitivity to abuse issues, including domestic violence.
She has seen
first hand the damage domestic violence does to the individual
and family. It crosses all demographic barriers: financial, racial,
ethnic, age and sexual orientation.
Our thanks to Jennifer Bowles!
Member: I'm not sure what to think about my situation, I'm
hoping you can help. I don't even know if this is the right place
to put this, but there doesn't seem to be anywhere else. I'm a
woman and I've been close friends with another woman since elementary
school (12 or so years). It wasn't any sort of lesbian relationship,
but she was the closest relationship I'd ever had; she was my
the problem is. She could be a very sweet, happy person one day,
but the next day she would seem to completely hate me. It was
a cycle that swung more and more into the negative over the years,
and oddly enough, she never showed this behavior with her other
friends. I thought I was just stressed and imagining it, but when
I started writing down some of the things she'd said everyday,
it became pretty clear that she was being extremely hurtful. However,
I felt guilty. She was going through problems like manic depression
and panic attacks, and it felt like whatever she did was justified
by that. But I still cared for her and worried over her very much
so I thought then that I should just suck it up and be there for
her. However, it eventually became too much for me to handle.
I was giving as much support as I could but was getting indifference
or disgust whenever I needed to discuss a problem. Thankfully,
at that time a loving man came into my life and helped me see
clearly for the first time in years. He pointed out to me that
I myself was beginning to develop depression and cutting tendencies
because of this relationship. I eventually built up my strength
this is taking so long... it feels good to pour out my heart like
though... is what she did abuse? Or was it just the strain of
her life overflowing on me? Am I perhaps too sensitive? I've never
seen anyone talk about emotionally abusive friendships. Also,
how can I heal? Despite knowing that what I did was for the best,
I still feel guilty for leaving. I've talked to her a few times
after I left (we have mutual friends and run into each other)
but these discussions only end up making me terribly upset. She
says that it's preposterous that she had ever hated me, and brings
up times when she did a few kind things for me, and says that
I just must have "misheard." But I know I didn't. I've decided
to cut off all communication if possible. I'm tired of being hurt
by her. Is this the right thing to do? I don't like leaving a
relationship in turmoil like that, but I feel like there's nothing
I can do. Well, thank you very much for listening to me and reading
this long, long, long question(s)!
You have certainly been through a lot with this woman and over
a long period of time. You sound like you were and are a kind,
loving person that ended up being the scapegoat for your friend's
problems. Was it abuse? Absolutely. It is not considered "domestic
violence" unless it is occurring between domestic partners (or
witnessed by children, etc). But what it sounds like you went
through was abusive treatment by someone who should have treated
you better. It is understandable that you shrugged off her behavior
over time if your friend was having difficulties, but there comes
a point where it is damaging to continue in such a toxic (yes
like poison!) relationship.
worth likely took a lot of hits from her and it probably has taken
a long time for you to recover from that. I am glad you had a
loving man who was able to help you see the damage that was being
done to you in the name of friendship. I had a conversation with
a bright young woman awhile ago. She describe being treated by
her best friend in a very shoddy manner. She told me that she
had watched this woman over the years make friends with others
and then become mean and vindictive with them. This young woman
thought that her friend would never turn that venom onto her,
but of course it did happen and it was a very painful lesson for
her. She has taken that lesson however and learned from it. She
chooses people for friends who are kind and caring in a genuine
way, that treat others with respect and compassion. This is seen
in the way they treat strangers as well as close friends and is
mirrored in how they view the world (i.e. other cultures, ethnicities,
etc...anyone who is "different" from them). She has found that
when she finds someone who has these qualities, she has found
someone worthy of her friendship. I imagine you are able to spot
these characteristics in others as you possess them yourself.
I think your
decision to cut off the relationship with this toxic woman was
wise. You deserve to be treated as you treat others. It is possible
that this woman has some sort of personality disorder or is mentally
ill. For that you can feel pity and compassion, but letting go
of the relationship is a good sign that you are much healthier
now. Trust yourself to know when someone is hurting you purposely
and know that that cruel behavior is something you do not ever
need to tolerate. Thank you for a very thought provoking question,
and best of luck in your life.
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Questions and Answers (Click on the linked numbers below):
2. Divorced, did
not keep documentation for protection. What should I do?
3. I'm getting divorced.
Do I tell the judge about my husband's anger? Should my daughter
be with him?
4. How do I find
an Abuse Center in My area?
5. How can I help
my friend see that she's in a cycle of abuse?
Thank you, Jennifer
7. Is verbal abuse
considered domestic violence?
8. I've left my
husband - why do I feel so sad and guilty?
9. I'm being abused
but no one can tell.
10. How does domestic abuse
affect the children of the marriage?
11. When do you get past the
12. Husband abusive and terminal.
I'm pregnant. Can I make it on my own?
13. Therapists and false memories
Who do we tell if a child in my son's class is being molested?
15. My children are afraid of
their father but he has part custody, what do I do?
16. This relationship is tearing
down her self-confidence piece by piece.
17. I got away from the abuse
but now my daughter is suffering.
18. Why do so many women end
up in abusive relationships?
19. Is yelling verbal abuse?
20. Steps toward recovery?
21. Parents drinking affects
22. My dad was verbally abusive
to me and I now suffer from low self esteem.
23. I can hear the neighbors
fighting. What should I do?
24. My ex says no to counseling,
but I want my kids to go.
my boyfriend showing signs of being abusive?
26. How can I prevent visitation
27. Question about one of Jennifer's
28. Finding strength and independence
29. I worry so much about my
children when they are with him and his new wife.
30. My friend got out of one
abusive relationship and into another.
31. Helping my brother with
32. My husband is an alcoholic.
33. My sister is abusing me.
34. My mom was abusive. Will
I be too?
35. Abusive husband and a new
36. How is past abuse from my
deceased husband affecting my 4 1/2 year old?
37. My best friend chose a controlling
boyfriend, just like her father. Help me explain to her.
38. My husband intimidates me
into sex. Is this abuse?
39. Husband has anxiety and
is becoming violent
40. Separated, pregnant and
thinking of working things out with abusive husband
41. Question about verbal abuse?
42. Is my boyfriend abusive?
43. Ex-husband and unpaid child
44. Surviving molestation
45. Our arguing has turned physical
46. I left my verbally abusive
realizes she is the abuser
48. Husband's health is making
49. Abuse and chronically ill
50. Abusive relationship and
going through divorce proceedings
51. Granddaughter may lose custody
52. Relationship with abusive
boyfriend is like obsession
53. Very afraid of abusive,
54. Are my boyfriend's actions
55. I worry that my children
will be molested because I was
56. Why do women stay or have
a hard time leaving?
57. I need help to get away.
What can I do?
58. Elderly parents are abusing
each other, alcohol involved.
59. Is my daughter being abused
by her stepmom?
60. Do you discuss female domestic
violence towards men and children?
61. Friend keeps going back
to abusive boyfriend
62. Alcohol problems as teens
related to growing up in a violent home?
63. I left my abuser... a message
64. How to help a pregnant friend
65. Resources for domestic violence
in the military?
66. Nephew in abusive relationship
67. My husband is too controlling
68. Advice from someone who
69. I left and now I'm confused
70. Thank you, Jennifer
71. My husband mentally abuses
72. I've taken steps to leave
my abusive husband, but am worried about my daughter
73. Abuse in friendships?
74. Why do women oppose mandatory
75. My husband is frightening
me with his anger
Am I becoming my father?
77. Love and abuse
78. Boyfriend threatens me
79. Husband wants me to get
an abortion, is verbally abusive.
80. My mother-in-law is harrassing
81. Children verbally abusive
like their father
82. Son and daughter-in-law's
arguing affecting grandson
83. Should I call my husband
on each verbal abuse?
84. My fiancÚ babysits and I
am worried about his temper
85. My friend's child is affected
by abuse by father
86. Every time he hits me, he
blames me for it, then repents, apologizes and feels bad.
87. Acquaintances from church--the
woman is attacking her husband. How can I help?
88. Shelters - how do you find
your funds to live on and where to go?
89. My friend appears to have
no way out!
My husband is in prison and we're divorcing. Visitation rights?
If you are in immediate danger