Time to grow up.


Subject:

Daughter is in abusive relationship

Question:

My daughter was 19 when she started dating her abuser.  She had known him for less than a year when they moved in together.  I have a strict Catholic upbringing and it was hard for me to accept my daughter moving in with him, but she is an adult and entitled to make her own choices.  She knew how I felt, but I would never let my feelings alienate her from me. At first, she kept a lot from me, my husband and her sister.  Things came out gradually but our family tried to see him as a basically good person who had a horrendous childhood. For the first few years, we spent a lot of time together with both daughters and their boyfriends. My daughter thought if she could show him how a loving, supportive family treats each other, he would change.   He has flirted with and made sexual innuendos to my other daughter; he has lost his temper and left bruises on my daughter’s arms, slapped her in the face because she was sleeping, put his hands around her throat and kicked the door in.  I am sure there have been other instances of physical abuse, but this is what I know of.  He works seasonally (summer landscaping) and refuses to work during the alternate months.  As a result they have fallen into tremendous debt.  My daughter is 24 and has worked since she was 14 years old.  She has always had good work ethics and was working as an Assistant Bank Manager when she met him.  Last year she was fired from 2 banking positions and laid off from another.  Each time, she wasted no time in getting another position.  She was not out of work for more than a few weeks total.  Before this, she had never, ever lost a job.  This destroyed her self esteem and set her back even more financially.  He wasted no time berating her for being out of work, even though he may have been partly responsible.   He would call her and come into work constantly, they would stay up all night fighting and she would be too tired to focus on her job.  Soon after they moved in together, the financial problems started.  I sat down with both of them and offered to let them both move in until they got on their feet.  We told them that she would have her own room back and he would sleep in the spare room.  He refused and told her that she needed to “put her foot down” and insist they be allowed to sleep together.  She did not agree with him, but told me what he said.  I told them that was not an option.  He then said he’ll only move in if he could have her room because it was bigger.  Needless to say, they did not move in with us.  This is around the time I realized that he was not such a good person.  My daughter has tried to break up with him several times, but always goes back.  One time she tried to leave, he stood on a bridge and called her cell phone to tell her he was going to kill himself if she left.  She called 911 and guess what….he didn’t jump.  Last summer she left him and came home for about a few weeks and went back again. My other daughter and I contacted an organization that councils women and abused children.  We were able to convince her to talk with someone, but she continued to stay in the relationship. After this time, I decided that I could no longer include him in “family time” although I did make an exception on Christmas for my daughter’s sake. 2 months ago, I received a frantic call from my daughter late at night to please come and get her.  When she moved in with him, she had a good job, a car, a cell phone and about $20,000.00 in savings.  When I picked her up that night, she left with the clothes on her back and deep in debt.  The day after she left he started with threatening phone calls and voice mails saying he was going to call her work and tell them lies to ruin her reputation.  She told her manager what was going on and they immediately contacted security and gave her complete support.  I am happy that she is home, but I am afraid she is seeing him again.  She tells me she is going out with a friend or babysitting for a friend and then calls to say her friend got home very late and she will be spending the night.  Two days ago, she called out sick from work, she called me later in the day to say she was going to a movie with a girlfriend and will be home about 8:00.  She called at midnight to say she was spending the night and her friend will drive her to work.  I called her at work to see how she was feeling and I was told that she called out again.  I tried her cell phone several times throughout the day but could not get through.  I had horrible visions that something serious had happened to her.  She finally called 5 minutes before I left work to tell me I didn’t have to pick her up from work because she was babysitting again and her friend will pick her up.  When I told her that I tried to reach her at work and was told she didn’t come in, she said “Oh right, I went in late” even though I was told at 3:00 pm that she wasn’t at work. (Her shift ends at 4:30)  She told me she was coming home early last night because she still didn’t feel well and wanted to be in her own bed.  It’s now Saturday afternoon and she is still not home. Everyone I talk to says there is nothing I can do and she has to make her own decisions -how can I sit back and watch my beautiful daughter continue to live this way?  I know she feels like she has been under his control for 5 years, and when someone in our family wants to help, she sees this as control as well.  How can I help her through this?
 

Answer:

Kathy,
You are dealing with an ADULT woman. She may be your daughter, but at some point you need to recognize how your relationship with her is not healthy. Even though she is an adult she is hiding things from you like a teenager. This needs to stop. You are really the only one that can call her bluff on this. She is only under someones control is she lets herself be. You need to recognize this. She is willingly being in relationship with this guy. Now it doesn’t sound healthy, but she is an adult and you can only do so much. I would suggest you let her simply know that you know she is seeing this guy and that she needs to be out of the home in a month. She needs to grow up and she can’t do it while she is living with you. If she wants to stay then she needs to let you know where she is and who she is with with phone numbers and addresses. You are currently just a hotel where she can flop. In essence you are being used and given a minimal amount of information. This is what teens do not adult women. As long as she stays in your home she will continue to play the role of teen hiding the truth from the parents and getting away with it.

 

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