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Counseling/Overprotective Mother


I'm a 20 year old girl with an abusive, overprotective mother. I can't handle being in this house anymore and I really want to move out. Whenever I bring it up to her, she yells at me and ignores my question. She treats everyone in the house like trash and she's very controlling. I have to ask to go out and most of the time her answers are no. If I do get a chance to go out, she calls me constantly asking where I am, who I'm with, when will I be home, what I am doing, and that I better be home at 9. It really causes me stress because I feel caged in this house. My mom physically and emotionally abuses me. If I don't do something how she likes it, she'll get angry. When we argue, she brings up past arguements into this new arguement to manipulate the situation so she can win and make it look like I'm the bad one. She also belittles me and calls me names. Saying how gross I look because I broke out with acne and how disgusting I look because I'm supposedly "too skinny" when the doctors say I'm normal. She forces me to do dance when it's not something I want to do and whenever I want to quit and talk to her about it, she yells at me. Everyone that knows her tells me that I should stand up to myself and that I need to leave the house, but I'm scared she'll come find me, drag me back to the house, and beat me up for it. She always tell my sister and I, " I made you, I can break you. You can move out, but the farthest you'll get is right in front of our mailbox." I can't handle this anymore. She nitpicks little things about me to tease me and makes me feel like crap. My dad can't do anything because she controls him and she would beat him up too. Please help me!

Hi Rhi - I can understaqnd why you want to leave your abusive home situation. from what you write, your mother - and probably your father - have inherited serious psychological wounds:

Until you're able to live elsewhere, you have some powerful options:


2] learn how to assert and enforce boundaries with her: - specially "I-messages."

3] Select from these communication options to fit your situation:

In particular, I suggest you learn to use "empathic listening" skill when your Mother gets emotional:

4] If your mother is physically abusive with any of you, consider cslling the local police and asking them about "domestic violence" protection.

5] You may have inherited some or all of the psychological wounds your parents did. Learn how to identify and reduce them with this free online lesson:

Overall, you all need family therapy. Your father needs to take the lead in initiating this for all your sakes.

This is a LOT to integrate, Rhi, so take ytour time. You really do have a number of powerful options to protect yourself from your wounded mother. If you have further questions, plkease ask.

Compassiuonately, Pete


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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

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