Shock, Fear and Guilt
My best friend confided in me recently that she may have a gambling problem.
Unknown until the last two years, she was in an abusive relationship for 18 years. Her husband is an alcoholic, cheated on her several times, manipulated her into spending years and years helping him financially, and after her own full time employment as a care giver, spent endless hours helping him build a business.
She was the sole care provider of their child, and took care of all the finances, including taking out loans, borrowing large sums of money from her family, and even kiting checks in order to maintain the household as well as the business.
When the business became a success, she still had to work constantly to maintain the household and child expenses. His money was spent on lawyers for DUIs, taking his friends (and mistresses) out on his dime, and hiring friends at enormous wages.
She became ill last year, and he became abusive in all ways. She could barely defend herself. Still she held everything together (in between blood transfusions/surgeries, etc.). Her pain was constant, her self esteem crushed, and the depression severe. The pain kept her awake, sleeping two hours per night, the physical/mental effect devastating. The strongest person I have ever known was completely depleted.
She began gambling in casinos initially to escape the home when her son was at school, a play date, or sleepover. She was afraid to be alone when her husband came home drunk, was isolated from family and friends and ashamed of her appearance. The casino was open all the time, no dress code and no one bothered her there. She said it was a safe place. We thought it was innocent, and perhaps therapeutic.
A physician placed her on Seroquel as a sleeping aide. We noticed immediately more and more time was spent at the casino, until we barely saw her at all.
She has confided that she spent almost an entire equity loan, a disability settlement, and all bill money on the slots (80,000+) within months.
She finally left her husband, has been taken off the Seroquel, and her impulses were controlled quickly. She has admitted relapses. She is absolutely terrified of her family finding out, is so shocked and guilt-ridden over her situation' we fear for her.
Her husband has found out and is black mailing her. He intends to sue her for her losses. What do we say to her?