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Daughter in violent relationship-am i making it worse?(95 Posts)
To give a bit of background. My 20 year old daughter has an abusive boyfriend. He is older, has children, was in prison and is on methadone (every alarm bell is ringing of course!). They have been living together since they met, about 6 months ago. He has hit her several times now, always after drinking to excess. She doesn't want to leave him (yet?) but has left for short periods (less than 24hrs) after each time he hits her. She loves him, and minimises his behaviour each time (he didn't mean it, it was the drink, i made him do it and so on).
I want to to help her, but am not sure how, other than being here every time she needs us.
My question, for anyone with experience, is whether we have done the right thing.
We had not yet met him the first time we had a call to say she was at the police station after he beat her up in the street. After that, I said that I could not condone the relationship, and he was not welcome in our house until he could prove he had changed. But I loved her and wanted to be here for her. Since then, he has hit her at least once a fortnight, so obviously we have not let him come to the house or met him at all. WE stay in touch by phone and i pick her up to go out for lunch or she comes here
I havr not heard from her for 4 days now, because her phone is off. He keeps smashing her phone, which we replace so she has a way to be in touch. I think he is doing it to keep her away from us. My worry is that I am making this worse by not welcoming him to the family.
Should i welcome him to the family for her sake, or is it morally wrong to welcome an abusive bastard to the family in any circumstance? Would that be then condoning his abuse?
To give the full picture, i have younger children that i am trying to protect from this too. Any advice welcome!
Sorry I have not read all the posts so this may have been suggested. You could ring the national donestic violence helpline. They are open 24/7 and and support for victims and family and friend of victims of domestic violence .
0808 2000 247
I am sorry that you and your daughter are going through this situation. I think you are very wise and have more understanding than many posters. You are right that your daughter is an adult and to treat her as any different would be distructive. It would be illegal to get a bunch of heavies to beat up your daughter's asailent.
I was in a similar position to your daughter at the age of 19. It is a very common pattern for the violent partner to attempt to cut off his victim from the outside world. The victim's confidence is stripped by the pychological abuse as much as the violence. The outside world compounds horrendous lack of confidence by telling the victim of domestic violence that she is stupid for not leaving him.
I think that domestic violent victims find it hard to leave because their brain goes into basic survial mode. In caveman times it was certain death to leave the tribe and go it alone in the jungle. When someone is socially isolated then their abuser becomes their tribe on a sub concious level. Surival instinct is not to annoy the abuser and concentrates on staying alive for the next five minutes. Being under such a high level of stress makes it impossible for a domestic violence victim to think clearly however bright she is. It is similar to stockholm syndrome.
Does your daughter have any friends from school or work? If you can help your daughter to rebuild her social networks then she will find it easier to leave the abusive relationship. I can understand why you are replacing your daughter's phone and I would do the same. I would make it clear to your daughter that she is always welcome to reverse the charges if she wants to phone you.
Wow, get her out of there, before he kills her. Seriously. Take some big strong men with you. She will thank you for it. Do not stand by and watch this happen, simply enabling by replacing her phone.
Dear Innermuddle - I am really sorry and shocked with what you and your daughter are going through. I am on another thread with a much, much milder story - but similar advice. However if you look at what manaboutthemansion did to resolve his situation - it is quite inspiring. No violence - just words - achieved the end of that relationship. What terrifies me is that my personal experience is that these types of relationships seem to be the most enduring. My db and dc have been in one for 20+ years. It seems that the abuser strips the victim of all self confidence and traps them with invisible handcuffs.
Thanks again everyone. I love the idea of organising a holiday to give her some normality. I will try this. I have been taking her out for nice days to cheer her up. He keeps her on a very short lead, and makes it difficult for her yo relax by calling her or telling her she needs to be back to make his dinner etc. It is painful watching her growing more and more anxius and losing her confidence.
Starlight, what you said about dv not starting with a slap reareally struck a cord. I think that is,in some ways, the hardest part to witness, the slow erosion of her confidence and losing her funny bubbly character.
I will continue to do as I am doing, and hope it changes for her soon. It really helps to hear the stories of others who have come through this.
Innermuddle... I just want to offer my support. I think you are doing all the right thing. I have read this thread with a sick feeling in my stomach because I know what I would be going through if this were my DCs (and I have DDs a similar age).
Whilst the initial reaction would be wanting to rip his balls off and pickle them in a jar, I know that those that offer restraint as advice are 100% right. I could not welcome the apology for a man into my house and I also could not even look at him because I know I wouldn't be responsible for my actions if I were to meet him. My revulsion would be very obvious. So I think what you are doing (i.e. the long term plan) is totally right.
I think all the practical ideas on here are brilliant (safe words, phones, secret money, important papers stored for her etc) but I also wondered about a holiday of some sort. What about offering to take her to a Spa for a few days? Just you and her? You could say to her that it won't be a break where you are going on about 'him' (believe me, she will know it isn't right, however at this age her love for him transcends the violence) but that it will be a chance for you both to have some beauty treatments and pampering together. If she were to do that with you, the contrast between the lovely time you have together and Real Life will be STARK. It just might be such a contrast that it might make her think, next time he hits out at her.
Whatever you do, you have to keep her onside and you are doing a brilliant job at that. Alienating her by forcing her to do something, dragging her home, bashing him up etc... will not work, tempting though it is. But it's a kneejerk reaction isn't it?
I can only begin to imagine what you are going through. My one dread with my DDs is that they might meet someone like this so my heart goes out to you.
Please ask her to get in contact with DV charities as they could advise her. If she won't you could get her leaflets.
Some things that i remember being reccomended were:
Try and smuggle out any important papers from house (for her and DC if she has any) ie passports, spare car key, bank statements, etc... so that if she decides to run she already has them somewhere safe
Try and have an emergency fund that he does not know about
Try and have some clothes, nappies, any necessaries smuggled out
The above could be kept at your house so that he doesn't find them, that means if she does have to do a runner she at least has some of the necessaries.
most importantly if he is violent, threatens violence, she thinks he is about to be violent; she should leave immediately (just leg it, never mind handbags, bank cards, any of the above, just hot tail it to yours). Let her know that your home is a safe haven and the door will always be open to her.
DV organisations should also be able to help you and give you advice.
Also wanted to say I don't rate Lundys book, I left H and was recommended it and found it didn't say anything I needed to hear and kept expecting it to get good and it never did!! Not sure it would have made any sense at 20. I found stuff from the freedom programme better.
I think its a waiting game and you have to continue doing what you are doing and keep showing her you are still there. We did manage to get ours on a family holiday abroad and though it had been great but as soon as she could she called to tell him to pick her up when we got home. It was only a few weeks after though when I got the late night call could she' pop up ' of course I said yes where are you? she said outside inthe car she came back to live with us but it took a year or so after for her to finish with him for good, that was over 10 years ago now and a distant memoryx
Definitely get her the Lundy Bancroft book.
A different suggestion: can you manufacture a family holiday that will get her out of the situation for a few weeks? It may just give her the break and the perspective to be able to get away.
Does she have friends her own age? Maybe even organise for her to go away with one of them? A trip of a lifetime?? A chance to hang out with normal people her own age and enjoy herself and realise how dysfunctional her relationship is.
Part of the "not moving home" is that she wants to feel grown up and in a grown up relationship of her choosing. maybe giving her another grown up experience away from him might redefine things for her.
I think to be fair people 'advocating' violence aren't thinking in that way. We all know we'd theoretically kill to protect our children, the reality often isn't that black and white.
Probably like me, they're shuddering reading those words (I have a dd of the same age as op) and thanking their lucky stars that it's not their baby, flesh and blood yadda yadda as it's so scary to think about it
Also when you think that this poor girl could end up being a statistic (without making THAT point) and then we'd all be mortified.
Until put in the position of dd being abused I always said I would rip balls off and feed them to a child abuser. The reality was utterly and painfully grey area.
Op I think you're doing the right thing. I hope your baby comes back to you soon and I cried when I read your earlier post which was very thoughtful, and insightful. You sound like a great mum. Often wonder how we bring up these lovely kids, kind and caring, and they go and meet someone who is their polar opposite and they seem to want to stick with them, in the vain hope they can 'fix' the person.
Oh, OP, I too thought I was failing my daughter (and a few people I know thought it too), or worse, think I didn't mind
Believe me, I thought of looking for some heavies to send round and I'm a very peace-loving
non-confrontational person. But let's face it, unless the bastard is so tortured into being terrified to ever talk to your daughter again, it ain't going to work plus she'd hate you for it. Plus it's illegal - so I too tired of those posts advocating violence.
You're doing all the right things. As I said before - it worked for my dd, just hang in there x
this book was recommended on MN last year (I haven't read it, I found it by searching MN for a thread on alcoholism to see if I could find anything helpful)..It may contain some tips for you to share with her to make her life easier whilst she is still with him, nb I am suggesting this is a read for you not her (as it seems to be about how to stay with an alcoholic partner and no one wants that for her) I am not suggesting you give it to her, just that it discusses how to live with an alcoholic and you might find something of practical help in it
I have to agree with the previous posts, that I was not really interested to seek help until the moment he started hurting our DS. That was when I finally got the confidence to act.
I don't know if this has already mentioned already but please remember that the reason why domestic violence can happen is because the victim has been stripped from every confidence and feelings of self worth and are unable not to blame themselves for the lousy behaviour of their partners.
Unfortunately, getting out of this frame of mind may take a lot of counselling, so be patient with her. She has no longer the strength to put a stop to this herself. I would try to find a way to get her more open to contact Women's Aid, or any other victim support group even I'd I I sunder the guise of helping her improve her relationship.
If the police is involved again, ask them to refer her for victim support. That may help her to little by little stoping blaming herself and see he partner for what really is.
You have had some great advise...DV is very hard to understand from the outside...It doesn't start with been punched in the face..It starts by breaking down confidence, self esteem and self worth.
I stayed with my abusive partner that got worse when I got pregnant ..My Ex got a caution for DV.....
I was chatting to a friend about DV today it was one little sentence that meant he had no understanding that my son was scared. not when he strangled me, locked me in the house, injured me so I couldn't go out...
With my friend it was the same the minute her daughter was involved she left...
two things I thought were helpful when I came to the descision to leave..
1 I was told someone was holding a phone number for me when I decided to leave
2- I was told to have an escapt plan which meant keeping important documents at a safe place as these give you rights to benefits, housing proving who you are....May be worth offering to store these for her..
Another thing she can go on a women aid course about understanding domestic abuse without having left there partner...These can really open up your eyes to what is abuse and she may realise she is been abused far more than she realises.
big hugs to you...I can't imagine how hard it is to wait for her to realise how abusive he is and be ready to leave
Can you go on a self defence course, practice the moves so you know them very well, and then, whenever you see her, pass on the teaching and suggest she also practices the moves in private, so she could remember them in an emergency. There is a current thread on relationships where posters gave tips on how to fight dirty when assaulted.
How about giving her some rape alarms - one for her bag, maybe one for upstairs and one for downstairs - hopefully you could find some which aren't actually labelled as such, and maybe briefing any "suitable" neighbours to be aware of the situation?
Perhaps give her 2 or 3 spare phones (could be pay as you go with a £20 credit) which she could conceal and never show him.
Make sure she knows how to apply first aid, and has multiple first aid supplies in the house
Make sure she has the phone number of her doctor and dentist readily available
Is there anyone here who is or knows an ex alcoholic who might be able to suggest some practical help as well, such as reading the signs, how to live with an alcoholic....?
Discuss with her what escape routes the house offers. (Similarly to the advice the fire service gives to look at your house and decide how you could escape in the case of fire).
Brilliant post at 20:40 OP full of clarity and honesty. I am full of admiration for how you are dealing with this and sincerely wish you a positive resolution soon.
To be honest, I was chipping away for a while - I had tried to leave before.
Then I had DS, and for the first time I thought, it isn't just me anymore, I could put up with anything but he shouldn't have to.
I had planned a bit but thought I loved him and didn't want to leave my home etc, so always put it off.
Then he tried to strangle me. It wasn't the worst incident but it was the final straw. I think everyone has their "final straw" and I'm sorry but until she had this nothing you say will make her go, which is why you need to keep reinforcing that whenever she is ready, you will be there.
I have found MN so helpful, so much support, I'm not sure I could have done it without the support on here.
My best friend grew up with domestic violence and she helped convince me that this was not right.
She is welcome to message me if she wants, if you think it would help.
Women's aid are great too.
I hope she realises soon.
Fairy thanks for sharing your story. Well done for having the strength to leave.
Can I ask, was it just you deciding enough was enough, that made you leave or was it an outside influence? Kust wondering if you have a suggestion for where to send her for information or was there something I could say to her that migt help?
Thank you for all advice. Some really helpful advice here. I spent the day with her yesterday, and we agreed a safe word, and that she could get a taxi here any time that I would pay for. I've told her about mumsnet so hope she reads some of the threads.
She is not wanting to leave him, she think she loves him . I just hope she comes to her senses before he really hurts her. Some of the stories on here are terrifying.
For all those suggesting I do something or stop her going back there, do you really think that would work? I don't! She loves him and wants to be there. She has npt yet reached the point of knowing that he will not change and for her, right now, she believes that the good outweighs the bad. How would it help her to pressure her to leave him? She would just hate me and go back there anyway. My fear is if I make her angry and defensive she will be even more trapped by him, because she will stop talking to me about it. I'm just repeatedly telling her this is not normal, not ok, not her fault and she deserves better. And that I am here for her.
If I were to try ro lock her in her room, surely that is as bad as him abusing her. I ant to empower her to have the strength to leave. I think tbat can onky happen when she believes she deserves better. And realises that he will not change. Me forcing her to stay is not only illegalbut also reireinforcing the message that she is too immature or stupid to make hr own decisions. Everything he tells her, that I am trying to counteract.
Finally, although most of what has been said here has been helpful in firming my decision to keep him away from the house and to keep contact despite any obstacles he throws up, and verh helpful suggestions for practical help. The messages suggesting I am not protecting her or should just hit or hurt or kill him or whatever are really not helpful and quite upsetting. I am trying really hard to protect her but sont know how. I was looking for help from wiser souls with experience, not a message that I have in some way failed her by not acting violently to save her. I found that really difficult to read and so stopped reading to think about it. I think it was probably meant well, as an expression of empathetic horror at the situation. However it just made me feel really shit when I was already worried and upset.
Please consider this when offering advice in future, because I'm really glad I did come bavk to see the practical and helpful suggestions, I nearly didn't.
Athrodiaeth even presuming the OP's daughter is financially supported by her parents, do you not think that there's a danger of making the daughter even more dependent on the abuser if you remove financial support? Isn't it wiser, more supportive and more conducive to ending the relationship for parents to provide the phones and an escape fund?
DAMNAUTOCORRECT That is exactly the way we played it, I loved her home!! Sent loving texts, and cards and just supported her every way we could so that she felt she could come home. She did say that she had wanted to come back before but that everything we did had helped her.
I was her age in a manipulative abusive relationship. If my mum had dragged me back, had him beaten up. It would push me further to him, as I'd have felt they were taking my choice (all be it an awful one) away.
And yes it was a choice I was being manipulated into and a bad choice but its one I made and one I was prepared to stick to whatever. I was an adult making that decision
Now my mum did push me towards him with her attitude. Which did make the swallowing of pride to go home even harder. If my mum had played softer kept communication open I'd have gone sooner, but I had no support as I'd been so pushed away. Yes they came through in the end.
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