We’ve all been there before.
Sitting across from a girlfriend as she recounts the latest awful thing that her partner said to her in a moment of frustration, it’s our job to counsel and support. Withholding judgement, we silently listen as we also monitor for red flags that might betray something more sinister. As a friend, it’s not our job to try and tell our girlfriend who she should love, but it is our job to make sure she’s not getting herself into a relationship that’s not right for her without realising.
With all of this taken into account, if I were the friend of Sarah Budge – I’d be pleading with her to dump John Ibrahim immediately.
Budge recently found herself at the centre of a media maelstrom when she was charged with gun possession after a Federal Police dawn raid of her Double Bay home resulted in the discovery of a loaded Glock 26 pistol and an accompanying magazine full of bullets inside a T2 box at the bottom of her wardrobe.
She was ultimately found not guilty of all charges, but the trial dominated headlines over its three-week duration with people understandably fascinated by the life of a glamorous model in the inner-orbit of John Ibrahim.
And while it was ultimately a straightforward trial about a gun and how it found its way into her wardrobe, what really stood out was her six year relationship with Ibrahim and how fraught it seems.
Thirty six pages of text messages – sent and received between May and August 2017 (when the gun was found in her home) – were extracted from Budge’s mobile and presented to the judge as evidence in the trial. They included texts to and from Ibrahim, depicting him as a dismissive partner to Budge, who was also going through a difficult time as her mother, Leone, was in and out of hospital before passing from cancer in March this year.
For example, on July 13 2017, Sarah texted John after her mother was admitted back to hospital after experiencing breathing troubles. “Nightmare day,” she wrote, alerting Ibrahim to her mother’s state. When she didn’t get a reply, she sent him another text the following day, “So upset my day was too hectic really wanted a tiny cuddle”.
She received no reply until she sent a Whatsapp on the 15th, “Why am I being ignored … kinda upsetting. Feel like I haven’t seen you!!!”.
He replied, “busy”.
No questions about her mother, no concern for her wellbeing that’s evident in the text messages. Judging from these messages, he was simply too ‘busy’ to care.
Then, on July 26 in a radio interview promoting his memoir, The Last King Of The Cross, Ibrahim claimed to be single. Budge, understandably upset about said admission, messaged him about it, “Just another kick to the chin. I’m so disappointed and I look like an idiot again.”
When he wasn’t replying to her messages on the 30th, she again pleaded with her boyfriend, “Why r u being mean and ignoring me suddenly … u said to call u and you ignoring?”
To which he replied, “Not answering means I don’t want to talk u annoying f***”.
It’s humiliating and denigrating.
Then, on the August 3 she confronted him about potentially cheating on her with another woman who had posted a photo from inside his bedroom on Instagram, Ibrahim had nothing else to say other than, “Shut the f*** up I’m busy”.
I could go on but I think we all get this tragic picture.
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Even her own barrister, Simon Buchen, SC, admitted that John Ibrahim treated Sarah with “absolute contempt”. When he asked Budge why she stayed in the relationship with Ibrahim despite the way he treated her and despite the fact he may or may not have been responsible for the firearm in her house, she cried. “I don’t think he deliberately put me in a bad position”.
Buchen saw her emotional testimony as proof of a torn woman in love. “She is a conflicted person,” he told the court in his closing address. “She holds suspicions, she doesn’t know what has happened, she doesn’t know how the gun got there, she still wants to think the best of Mr Ibrahim, who she wants to have a child with.
“She’s not on trial for having a relationship with Mr Ibrahim … the human heart doesn’t always obey the rules of logic.”
Buchen is right, the heart wants what the heart wants, even if that leads us into problematic relationships that aren’t in our best interests. And Budge is certainly free to love who she wants to love, but if I were her friend and she were sitting opposite me, showing me those text messages I’d only have one thing to say: “leave”.