I recently visited my best friend from college — we had not seen each other in three years and have been talking over Skype on a weekly basis until now. She is getting married on Friday to a monster I had the great displeasure of meeting this last week. On the first morning I was with her at her house, I noticed her 1-year-old dog had a problem with her eye, ear and back. I asked what happened and she responded, “I’m not going to lie, my fiancé beat the shit out of her.”
I was in shock. I didn’t know what to say to her until later in the afternoon when I said I was very concerned for her safety. She shrugged me off and said he has never been bad to her, he is very stressed at work, and then said, “That’s what battered women say, right?” When the violence occurred, she was not home — when she came home and found her dog blinded on one side and more than likely bleeding internally, she did not take her to the vet. Instead, she told her fiancé that if he ever hit the dog again, she would be gone. She has been afraid to seek help for the dog, who is obviously suffering.
My friend recently moved to a city that is 10 hours from where her family and also her fiancé’s family lives. I live 3,000 miles away. Throughout my visit I attempted to talk to her rationally (with the support of the domestic abuse help line helping me with what to say to her) about the gigantic life decision she is making in four days, contrasted with the fact that she admitted that the dog is not safe around her fiancé. I don’t know what to do — I told her she is loved and I am worried about her safety; I looked into finding another home for her dog; I reached out to her neighbors and friend in the area to let them know I am worried; and I made her decide on a safe word if she ever needs to call me to have me call the police.
Some other behaviors I witnessed: He was going through her phone in the living room when I walked through and he didn’t hide it (later, my friend caught him and was upset because there are pics of her wedding dress that he said he “tried not to see”); every time we were in the house, just the three of us, he would corner her and make her kiss and hug him until she told him to stop — one time she fought him off and he grabbed her wrists and restrained her; and he calls her every hour and texts her nonstop throughout the day.
I feel like she will go through with the wedding on Friday unless I a) call her mother and tell her what I saw or b) file a report with the Animal Control in her town to have them investigate. Both of these actions would potentially cut me out of her life but at least she would understand the seriousness of the situation she is in.
Devastated by Animal Violence and Scared for a Friend
I have thought through all the options carefully and, partly out of moral outrage and partly out of a love of drama and partly out of pure logical necessity since you have so little time, I am going to suggest something a little daring. I agree that you should call her mom and contact the authorities. But there’s more:
I suggest that you object publicly to the marriage. During the wedding ceremony when it is asked if anyone objects, stand up and say that you object. Then approach the couple and privately tell them your reason.
This short, instructive article on ehow.com shows how to object with dignity, without airing the substance of your objection publicly. When you are up front and can speak privately, just say, “Based on recent events, I fear for your safety and well-being if you marry this man.”
It won’t stop the wedding or make you the life of the party but it will be a courageous moral act. It will have a lasting impact on your friend. She may not speak to you for a long time. But she will remember it.
It will take a lot of nerve. It will require sacrifice.
But here is why you speak out: You speak out because silence is a weapon of control. You speak out because men who brutalize women rely on social and cultural silence. You speak out to draw attention to the situation and empower others to speak out. You speak out because people say, “This is just how things are.”
You speak out to change how things are.
What we are talking about here is silence. We are talking about the few options remaining to a person to act her conscience.
Now, of course you may not want to do it. You may decide it’s just not worth it. Whether you do this or not, you will also want to talk with her friends and family and make plain your concerns. You will want to emphasize to them the links between animal cruelty and other criminal behavior.
But nothing will have quite the impact of a public objection.
People will say it was a terrible thing to do. And they will be right. It is a terrible thing to do.
So is beating a dog.