Abusive Relationships/my girl


QUESTION: My daughter is a beautiful caring woman with a 2 year old son whom we adore. She has been with this man now going on over two years. In this time she has lost pretty much everything that she had worked hard for. He is proven to be only a user! He talks down to her , he takes her cell phone and car each day leaving her home ( which is pretty much an empty apartment because he can’t keep anything) with No car, No cell, and a baby.
I can never say anything to her about him without her defending and blaming everyone else for his poor life. He has got her totally brainwashed thinking that he does no wrong, and we are the bad ones. When in fact I have done nothing but help them. I have exhausted all my finances doing so with the hope that things will look up and they will get it together.
When she met him she had a good life going, she was able to get her own apartment, had credit cards, a nice car, good job. I was very proud of my daughter and the life she was leading.
They moved in together the first time 1/12 years ago It wasn’t long after that the $ situation started and of course I stepped in and help all the time and I was okay with all that because I thought this is a young couple trying to make it . Well then I learned he wasn’t helping her at all with any of the bills and only spending her $. She finally woke up and called us to move back home .I was SO happy!! But that only lasted a few months and he was back. Over the next several months more stuff was coming out about their situation and the more we fought. She had gotten him a motorcycle and he was supposed to make the payments and never did, so it got repo. He was supposed to help with the breaking of the lease payments & never has.
they got another apartment and it has been 7 months, in this time she has filled her credit cards, redid the loan on her car for more $$, and in the mean time gotten thousands of $ for me. All for either rent lawyers, etc. but Still I tried to stay in and help. I got this man a good paying job with the hopes that he would do well and step up. I have tried to set up their bills on a schedule, we sold him a car for 500.00 and never received any payment.
I feel like I have done nothing but help but nothing I say gets done.
Now With the new apartment he wasn’t paying any bills. And the one car they had (hers) got repo last week and they are being evicted from their apartment. So he hasn’t paid anything.
I have told her now that I can’t help. I told her that if she came home that we would help her but he isn’t welcome.
So a few weeks ago she called me at 1.30AM to please come and get her and the baby, they had gotten into a big fight and she broke up with him.

I rushed right over (frankly very excited) after I knew they were both okay.

She got a job and is back home but all she does is try to go see him. I let her use our car when she has to work and now she is just driving me crazy saying “no one is perfect mom and we are working on this well I told her I didn’t want her using my car to go see him, that he isn’t my issue and not my kid so NO. Well I she is doing it I can feel it. So again the only thing we are fighting about is HIM. the never ending loser that won’t go away .
I don’t know how to make her understand that he will not change and he is not good for her.
She agreed to go talk to someone and I think that is great. But where do I tell her to go when she doesn’t think she is in a controlling /abusive relationship?

ANSWER: Thank you for writing and being very concerned for your daughter and grandchild. People staying in abusive relationships is very complex and many return on an average of seven times before breaking away permanently. Your question of where do you tell her to go when she doesn’t think she is in a controlling/abusive relationship and the answer is you really can’t tell her anything.

Encouraging her to see a counselor who specializes in abusive relationships is about all you can do like you are doing.  But you need to understand that she ultimately has to decide whether she wants to see a counselor and end the relationship.

I know observing what is happening is very, very painful. Seeing your daughter throw away her life for him is overwhelming, frustrating and saddening. My suggestion is to pick up some pamphlets at your local domestic violence shelter and give them to her. You can google for a list of shelters in your area or call the clerk’s office at your county court house for phone numbers. You can also print off checklists about abusive relationships from the internet to give to her. Expressing your concern for her and her child’s safety is good to do along with encouraging her to seek help. But needs to be done in a soft, gentle voice so she will listen to you. Any hint of anger, frustration or loud voice and she will turn you off.

Your local shelter may provide you with a list of counselors as well. An online counselor I would recommend is Jennifer Young at http://saferelationshipsmagazine.com/healing-the-after-math-column-jennifer-youn

How to Spot a Dangerous Man is also a good book that describes abusive men: http://saferelationshipsmagazine.com/how-to-spot-a-dangerous-man

Another suggestion is to stop arguing about him. This only puts strain on your relationship with her. Choose to spend time with her doing the things you love to do together but refuse to talk about him. If she talks about him, respond with statements such as:

•   This must make you feel sad
•   I can see why you are angry
•   How does that make you feel?
•   That wasn't very nice
•   Wow, that must have hurt

Continue to make very short statements or questions to get her to see how poorly he treats her or how unhappy she is and then change the subject. If she keeps wanting to talk about him, suggest for her to talk with a therapist because you are not trained in this field to be able to really help her.

Always focus your attention on your fun and enjoyable times together. Listen to what excites her and what her goals are in life. Keep your focus on her and her plans and this will help you stay away from talking about him. If she talks about him, then you can either just listen, state those short statements or change the subject. This will help you define the proper boundary with her and she will learn to do the same with her life with him. Continue to make boundaries for yourself and stick with them. Seeing a counselor yourself to help you with these boundaries may help you release your frustration and anger as well. Remaining calm and collective will be good for you and your daughter.

Please keep asking questions as you move forward. But remember, this is her life and her decision of what she wants to do. Just as your life is your decision on how you want to live it. Hopefully soon, she will see that this man does not treat her very well. In the meantime, provide information about abusive relationships, learn to set firm boundaries you can live with and focus on the enjoyable events that make you happy.

Much peace to you,
Coach Cathy
Cathy Backlund, Life Coach, Specializing in Abusive Relationships and Domestic Violence Education

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi again, well I’m trying to do this, I try and do the things you suggested and sometimes I can see a smile. But this week has been very stressful.
the deal we had when she moved back home is she receives food stamps and that was going to be her way of helping out, I wouldn’t charge her rent or anything and she would use those to help pay for the food. Pretty good deal I think. Not to mention she uses our car and all the other household stuff.
But she hasn’t gotten her card and it been a month, so I told her that until she started getting them that she needed to help out by giving me some $. I never said an amount because I really don’t care I just. I just thought well if I get some cash at least when I have to put gas in the cars that will help out some. BUT  she was very upset over that, she said that I demanded that she give me cash ( which I never did and I told her that) but then she went right to if I have an issue with helping her then I shouldn’t of wanted her to come back home.
So of course I was mad and hurt and I said I wanted you to come home because you were living like a HOBO and never had anything and you have a son to think about. This was to help you get back on your feet. And we are helping because we want to, but your acting like we have to. Your 24 years old and I don’t think it should be a big deal if you pay us some $ until you start getting food stamps.
She told me that she has plenty of places she could go. I wanted to tell her to go! But I just can’t. I worry so much and she has my grandson and I will never toss him out.  So I feel like she knows that and thinks she has the power.
It went on and on and I have no clue what she is thinking or if she even plans on doing what I asked.
I think my request was a reasonable one , am I wrong ?  do I tell her to go ( ugh…. )
I’m still stressed to the core and don’t know what to do.

Open communication as such is ALWAYS good even if it seems stressful! Coming to an understanding and agreement that works for the both of you and STICKING to it is not only good for you but also teaches your daughter how to do this in ALL of her relationships. Writing down your agreement and each of you signing it may be helpful as well so that when agreements are not being followed, the written agreement can be presented and talked about. If you need to change the agreement, then do so and sign a new one. When the agreement is clearly understood by both parties and followed, then these type of confrontations will be less and less.

To help come to an agreement that works for both of you, you may want to ask her what she thinks is fair in helping out? You may want to list the EXTRA expense and household chores that occur with her living with you and ask how these EXTRA chores/expense are going to be taken care of? Asking for her input and coming up with an agreement together usually helps with her following through with her promises and teaches responsibility.

This will also help relieve the “guilt” you have of wondering if your request is reasonable. If she starts her tantrum again (threatening to live elsewhere, accusing you of demanding money, etc), then stop all discussion and suggest to talk about this the next day in a calm, cool voice. Then walk away and go work on another activity and bring up the conversation again the next day. Do this every day until she is willing to sit down and work with you on an agreement.

Here is a website that teaches wonderful parenting tips: http://www.empoweringparents.com. You will have to modify the techniques a little bit since your daughter is now at the age of 24 but the concepts are still the same—working together to come to agreements that work for the both of you. Once that understanding is clear and followed, then you will enjoy spending more fun time together without the battle of wills playing against each other.

Thank you for reaching out for more ideas of open communication that not only helps build a better relationship with your daughter but will also teach her the difference between healthy communication versus abusive ones.

Much peace to you,

Cathy Backlund, Life Coach, Specializing in Abusive Relationships and Domestic Violence Education  

Abusive Relationships

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Cathy Backlund, Life Coach in Abuse & Domestic Violence


Are you unsure if you are living in an abusive relationship? Are you feeling confused, angry or hurt and don't know what to do? I can help you determine if you are in an abusive or unhealthy relationship and provide suggestions on how to create a plan for your happiness, health and well-being! Please ask questions to find out answers today! Everyone deserves to live life with happiness and joy, and I am here to help you. Are you ready to find out how you can live a better and happier life? If you are, please ask your questions today!! Asking and finding the answers you are looking for is the first step to improve you joy and happiness!


I am a Certified Life Coach Specializing in Prevention and Education of Domestic Abuse and Violence.

•SPARCC (Safe Place And Rape Crisis Center), Sarasota, FL •CAT (Sarasota Violence Prevention Community Action Team) •Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence •Guardian Ad Litem 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida

Please visit my webpage for more information and articles about abusive relationships and domestic violence at www.LifeCoachCathy.com or www.DomesticViolence-Education.com. I am here with you, while you find answers that help you!

•B.S. from Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA •Core Competency Course from the Shelter for Abused Women and Children, Naples, FL •Life Coach Training from Changepoint Coaching & Consulting Association •Advanced Training from The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology •Sexual Violence Core Training from Florida Council Against Sexual Violence •High Risk Domestic Violence Training by Lundy Bancroft and Sarasota Police Dept, FL •Court Assistance Training from SPARCC (Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center, Sarasota, FL •Principles of Prevention by The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) •Guardian Ad Litem 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida

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