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I feel like i'm back in an abusive relationship only this time with my daughter

(96 Posts)
18yearstooold Fri 26-Dec-14 08:03:02

Dd is 13 (also have dd2 who is 11)

I was with their dad for 13 years, split up when dd1 was 8

It took me years to recognise I was being emotionally and sexually abused and took me years to get out of it -but I remember well being unable to relax in my own home and feeling like i'm walking on eggshells, always putting myself on the bottom of the pile

Well it's all happening again, only this time with dd1
Today we are supposed to be seeing family, she doesn't want to go and I've woken up with a massive knot in my stomach, worrying about what will happen -her dad only visited my parents 4 times in all the time we were together, he would be 'ill' or cause a row to avoid it

Yesterday was a write off, apparently I got her nothing she wanted -I obviously don't even know her her dad used to say this or similar

Food is an ongoing battle, her dad constantly used to criticise my coking, telling anyone that would listen that I was trying to poison him

I'm really struggling to separate normal teenage behaviour and worrying behaviour

I've spoken to school who say she's a model pupil but I finally got a learning mentor to speak to her and she said she's incredibly defensive and has obviously got a lot of issues relating to her dad
Dd has been offered counselling but refused it

People tell me to just get her told, make her get in the car etc etc but that's not even close to being possible

It hurts me to see her so unhappy and that I can't help her but there is this fear that she is so much like her dad and she's not choosing a different path -she says she's who she is, can't help it and it's not her fault if it upsets people, they should just man up

I can't go on like this, i'm so tired of it all, it's got to change but I don't have the option of leaving this relationship -I love her to bits but this hurts

cansu Fri 26-Dec-14 08:12:48

Sounds like you have started to behave in a similar way, worrying about how she will react and modifying your behaviour, probably like you did with your abusive ex? I think you need to start showing your dd that whilst you love her you won't be controlled by her unpleasant behaviour. You are going to your family today and so she is going. If she refuses to get in car etc, take away mobile, laptop wifi etc leave her with food, landline etc and go on your own at 13 she can manage by herself for a few hours. If she was rude about her presents tell her I have done the best I can, you sound very rude and ungrateful and walk away. Stop giving her lifts, paying for her phone etc until she treats you respectfully. Maybe she has witnessed her father treating you disrespectfully and has started copying this behaviour? She may well be angry and upset and you can acknowledge that and offer her support but you mustn't slip into feeling you are a Victim of your dd.

emeline Fri 26-Dec-14 08:16:02

Go to counselling together. Go to your gp. You need professional input to break the pattern.

magoria Fri 26-Dec-14 08:17:14

If she is just who she is and people should man up have you tried the same tactics on her?

She didn't like the presents ' oh dear sorry I put a lot of thought in' take them away and say you will return them (don't offer replacements).

She doesn't like the food you cook 'oh dear so sorry I thought it was nice' and take it away. Don't offer any thing else.

How long are you visiting family? Can you just make it a few hours? Warn her you are leaving at x and go. At 13 a few hours alone won't hurt her.

At present she is getting valuation and attenation for her negative behaviour don't show your hurt. Just shrug and carry on life around her shit as if it is unimportant.

If she refuses help then all you can do is tough love, not pander to her or accept her behaviour.

Easier said than done I know.

ninja Fri 26-Dec-14 08:17:43

Not sure I've got much help, but just sympathy. I'm 2 years behind you - separated when DD was 8 and she's 11 now. She's such a hormonal teenager - prefers her dad, tells me she doesn't get on with me, hates me as much as she loves me. And yes - I recognise that feeling of being treated in the way that my ex did.

She still does have some. Loving and grateful moments but I could see myself losing her sad

Does she see much/any of her Dad? With my dd, we share care and her behaviour is filed by comments her makes.

I think at 13 a lot of it is normal teenage stuff but ...

Hopefully someone will come and give you some proper advice

magoria Fri 26-Dec-14 08:18:45

Attenation = attention

NewNameforChristmas Fri 26-Dec-14 08:19:13

Its difficult being 13 and its difficult being the DM of a 13 year old DD especially if you both have the background of an abusive relationship. DD will have learnt which buttons to press, but she also loves you.

You are the adult; you lead the way. If she doesn't like the presents you got her - tough. Next year perhaps she can write you a list. If she doesn't like the food you cook she can cook her own. If she doesn't want to go places with you, she can stay home alone. Let her see that the consequences of her behaviour have no pay off for her. Keep calm and carry on about your business (go and scream or cry in the bathroom if you need to,but keep things calm where DD is concerned). And keep things calm with your other DD too; don't let her see that negative behaviour towards you has any sort of pay off.

This too will pass <<voice of experience emoticom>>

Moln Fri 26-Dec-14 08:21:13

Certainly sounds as if she's been influenced by her father's behaviour towards you, more than normal teen behaviour.

I was going to suggest councelling but I see she's refused it, who offered it to her originally? Was it just for her or as a family?

Moln Fri 26-Dec-14 08:24:45

Lots of xposts there, whilst I said it's more than teen behaviour I do think handling it in the way magoria is a very good idea.

18yearstooold Fri 26-Dec-14 08:25:14

We are only going for a few hours

Christmas Eve she was saying she's not going, told me she couldn't cope and I didn't understand
I told her I wasn't discussing it, she's going which resulted in an hour of tantrums, crying, threats (her not me)
Last night reminded her to set her alarm and she didn't argue back but i'm still worried about what will happen

Her younger sister hates it when there are arguments or tension in the house

I know i'm slipping into victim but i'm so lost as to where she needs sympathy and understanding and where she needs discipline

I've had counselling but I've used up what I can access and I can't afford private

SunnaClausIsComingToTown Fri 26-Dec-14 08:28:40

Leave her and go with DD2 if she acts up.

SanityClause Fri 26-Dec-14 08:28:59

I can see what you mean about separating abusive behaviour from normal teen behaviour. A lot of what you are describing just sounds like normal teen behaviour, although on the far edge of normal, maybe.

Get the book everyone recommends on here - Get Out Of My Life, But First Drive Me And Alex Into Town - which I think will help a lot. You need to distance yourself from the behaviour, I think, and not take it too personally, although I can see why you do take it personally, given your history with your ex.

I think the suggestion of counselling is good, at the very least for you. I don't know how helpful joint counselling sessions would be. Lots of people find their teens are unwilling to participate.

I think it's very important to try not to see too many parallels in her behaviour and that of your ex. Otherwise you will allow that relationship to spoil this one, as well.

2fedup Fri 26-Dec-14 08:32:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

18yearstooold Fri 26-Dec-14 08:33:46

To answer a few questions -lots of x posting, sorry

She used to have contact with her dad but that has tailed off and she has no contact with him or his family although dd2 does -he didn't like her behaviour which caused a row between dd, him and his parents so now they don't see each other

She was offered counselling through school after I spent 3 months jumping up and down saying there's an issue here and them insisting there wasn't
It was only after she refused to go to school one day that they listened to me

I've had counselling through my GP

Can't get family counselling without dd being willing to attend, which she isn't

SanityClause Fri 26-Dec-14 08:33:59

Sorry, x posted. I can see you can't afford counselling, just now. Do try the book, though.

Coyoacan Fri 26-Dec-14 08:37:22

Yeap, my dd by the age of twelve was absolutely horrible, she only really came out of it when she was fourteen. I think some of the advice on here is really good, I couldn't tell you what I did that worked, just that we survived. But the real reason I am posting is that my dd hardly knew her dad, who had been abusive, but I think it was just very bad hormones and the angst of growing up.

SanityClause Fri 26-Dec-14 08:43:23

I think that you need to distance the way she behaves from the way your ex behaved towards you.

He was seeking to control you with his behaviour; she is looking for some control for herself.

HoHoEffingHo Fri 26-Dec-14 08:54:19

Ask for her to be referred to CAMHS. You can still have family therapy without her there, which can then help you to recognise patterns of behaviour and help you to feel more in control.

I am a great believer of children's bad behaviour being a symptom of something well hidden. This could just be bog standard teenage angst and hormones, but there could be underlying issues which you need help with to unpick.

I also think you need to stop seeing this as abusive behaviour. She is a child and you can gain back control/balance to the situation

Romeyroo Fri 26-Dec-14 09:13:35

Really helpful posts on here. I left an abusive relationship two years ago, so I recognise some of what you are saying with regards to DC. I would follow the practical advice here. I tend to preface things with 'I love you very much but this behaviour is not acceptable <add consequences>'.
Two other thoughts: do you know why Christmas Eve she said she couldn't cope? The part of the behaviour which was not acceptable was the tantrums and threats, not her saying she could not cope. If my 13 year old DD was saying she could not cope with going somewhere which was not mandatory, then the question would be why not? And is there an alternative to her going which does not interfere with your decision to go? I know it is really hard to think clearly when the arguments start and the knot is in your stomach; but the I can't cope, you don't understand, sounds like it needs a different answer than well, you are going.

My second thought was about the counselling. You say you have used up your free sessions. What do you mean by that? What sessions did you get and for what? I have got a referral on beyond my six sessions, but that might be unusual, have you explained the situation to your GP and asked about further help?

Cooking: I have the fussiest DD in the world at home; seriously, I have got to the stage where I just say 'take the poison face off, if you don't want to eat it, you don't have to'. Part of abusive xHs behaviour was very strictly regulated eating (certain things at certain times) whereas I think it is important to be able to exercise some freedom about what goes in your mouth. So the important thing is politeness and discussion, not that DD eats everything I cook. We tend to meal plan as a family now and things like Bake Off have been good for getting her into the kitchen. My rules are if she does not eat dinner, not worth a fight, but no rudeness and certainly no filling up on junk food. But the joint meal planning has helped enormously. Sometimes I do cook myself something they don't want and them something else, but not every night.

I tense up when DS tantrums and start to panic which is a throwback to being with his father. It is really hard to think rationally and clearly, but he is a child, he is not his father, and it is as much about my response (I do not accept that behaviour; happy to discuss as issue but not to be shrieked at).

springydaffs Fri 26-Dec-14 09:23:10

I wouldn't advise you go to CAMHS, personally. They'll blame it all on you.

The problem is that the vast majority, CAMHS included (ime), think it must be your fault. See how people above are suggesting you need to separate out the two, your husband's abuse and your daughter's abuse? But what you're seeing is the same thing. People don't get that. I suppose people barely 'get' domestic abuse, let alone when it's your kid doing it.

You have quite a big window here because sh'es only 13 (if she were eg 17 there's not a lot you can do, except firefight). Agree with suggestions above to withdraw any and every privilege - though you have to do it calmly, you can't be screeching and pleading, hoping for her to 'get it'. She won't get it, your actions have to do the talking.

You say you can't afford private counselling but you can approach counsellors in your area (look at BACP site) and ask about their fees, most have a sliding fee scale. You won't lose anything by asking. It may be you have to do without some luxuries but it's money well spent. It's a priority during these crucial years when it could go either way.

FollowTheStarship Fri 26-Dec-14 09:28:13

I think it's relevant that her dad has stopped seeing her because her behaviour caused a row. She isn't experiencing him as a parent - someone who is there for her whatever happens. She might be "testing" you to see if you will still love her whatever she does. (not consciously iyswim).

Agree with the advice to stay calm and show her her behaviour doesn't affect your plans, because she needs you to be the strong, adult one underneath it all (I know how hard that is). Tell her you love her too. And also you can ask her what would help her feel better and why she is feeling upset.

It's also very hard for you but remember this situation is different - though you have to be there for her and you can't opt out of this relationship, which feels scary, it's different because you do have the control here and rightly so. Your relationship with your 13-yo isn't meant to be equal, you are the parent. Furthermore, it will change and she will become independent, so you aren't in this situation forever (though you will always love her and be her mum). Keep reminding yourself it's not the same and you don't need to respond the same way.

Rootandbranch Fri 26-Dec-14 09:31:32

OP, maybe you may be putting 2 and 2 together and coming up with 5. My dd did and said all the things you said your dd does, and was physically aggressive to me to boot, despite having a father who has always been kind, loving and respectful. It's just at the more extreme end of typical teenage behaviour.

I found that the more emotionally fragile I felt, the worse dd's behaviour was, so sought out support for myself.

Teenagers can be horrific bullies at home :-(

Rootandbranch Fri 26-Dec-14 09:33:01

"I wouldn't advise you go to CAMHS, personally. They'll blame it all on you."

^^ this has been my experience.

Lagoonablue Fri 26-Dec-14 09:37:15

You are the parent. You are the adult. Grasp the bull by the horns and make sure she knows this.

She is 13. Tell Her today that this is how it is going to be.

She is obviously affected by the events around your previous abusive relationship. Tell her you love her, she is testing you out. But put in some boundaries. Some good suggestions above.

Try and get some family therapy via GP. The current vogue is multi-systemic therapy but don't think this is answer here. She is probably angry and upset by her dads behaviour so dealing with the symptoms only isn't the answer. Family therapy also looks at the causes.

Good luck.

18yearstooold Fri 26-Dec-14 09:38:10

I've had 12 sessions, 6 through GP and 6 through uni

I don't have any luxuries to cut back on, i'm a full time student and we live on student loan and child tax credits/child benefit

I've tried meal planning, taking her shopping etc and she says she will eat X but then when it's in front of her she won't touch it

I've had to stop buying all snacks, as she will get up after I've gone to bed and help herself, I've even caught her cooking chicken nuggets at 2 am so i'm having to shop more frequently and keep less in

She will also quite happily eat something and then stop, even mid meal and declare that she doesn't like it and won't eat it again

She's the same with drinks, won't touch tap water or squash and has previously gone several days without a drop of liquid passing her lips

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