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Domestic Violence - How to Keep Your Sanity When Your Daughter Stays With an Abuser
You Cannot Rescue Your Daughter
There is a hard truth imperative for you to accept: You cannot rescue your daughter from Domestic Violence. Of course, you will not abandon her. She will need your sympathetic ear, heartfelt advice and daily support, but until she’s conquered her co-dependency she will defend him in the face of insurmountable proof, take blame upon herself and even if you should drag her out kicking and screaming she’ll go back. The only way to keep your sanity is listed below.
- You must accept is the fact your daughter is an adult who has every right to make her own decisions. This is an especially tough one if children are involved as more often than not on some level they are suffering from their mother being abused. Now if you daughter witnessed you being abused when she was a child you will certainly feel a double dose of guilt and an even stronger desire to stop the cycle. Resist the urge for self-pity. It’s about her now, not you.
- Be proactive! Document, document, document. Write down or keep a computer file of each incident of Domestic Violence. That means every cruel word, every lie, every means of controlling behavior and any act of physical violence. Be as detailed as possible. Don’t forget to date each entry. Find a way to photograph any visible signs of abuse and attach the photo to the document or file accordingly. When she is finally ready to leave these documents will be invaluable.
- The most proactive thing you can do is to convince your daughter to get counseling. Don’t make it an issue of saving or ending her marriage. The first step is to deal with her co-dependency. Besides, the abuser is more likely to allow counseling if he thinks it is to “fix” her. After all she drives him to do what he does, right?
- If money is an issue there are many organizations and churches with accredited counselors who charge a fraction of the normal cost. Kick in a little cash yourself if necessary. As your daughter gains strength and insight and begins to assert herself you will be amazed and relieved to see the woman you once knew reappear. When she comes to tell you she’s ready to make her move it will be on her own terms. She will own her own life. And, yes, she will be appreciative you were always there for her.
Understanding Why A Woman Stays In An Abusive Situation
The following are the chief reasons a woman lives with Domestic Violence:
- FEAR – An abuser is like a pedophile controlling with threats. The abuser will threaten to kill her, her children and/or her parents. He may convince her he has friends who will testify in court she is an unfit mother. He plays on her weaknesses belittling her ability to build a life on her own or to support her children. Domestic Violence is all about control.
- CO-DEPENDENCY – As bizarre as it may seem this has become her norm. She’s miserable, but she knows what to expect where she is while the world out side her relationship is an unknown. Obviously there have been good times. She clings to those times and believes if she were a better person those times would return. He reinforces that belief by constantly telling her he wouldn’t abuse her if she didn’t push his buttons. Usually for a time period after an incident he will be on his best behavior giving her false hope.
- THE SYSTEM – Everyone tells the abused woman to leave, and then the law leaves her in the lurch. Even with a history of domestic violence no immediate legal action can be taken when a man becomes menacing or threatening. No blood, no foul, so to speak. Though later she can obtain an injunction stating he must keep his distance the damage can be done before law enforcement can be called to apprehend him. The abuser’s fury is intensified by the fact he is no longer in control. Statistics show 75% of abused women are in even greater danger after they first leave. When calling some hotlines and shelters the woman is berated for not making better decisions earlier causing her to feel uncomfortable utilizing the help that may be available.
Valuable Advice and Information to Keep Your Sanity
The Six B's
- Be Forewarned - Most likely the first time she leaves will be just that – the first time. The abuser will hound her with phone calls and she will answer. He will be repentant. He will declare his undying love. He will insist he can’t live without her. He will swear she is the best thing that ever happened to him. He will promise reform. He will promise to get help. He will say everything he knows she wants to hear. If she is still co-dependent she will convince herself it’s worth another try.
- Be Prepared - After a honeymoon period that can be days, weeks or months old behaviors will begin to resurface. It usually starts with nit picking. Nothing she says or does is right. Then comes name-calling, accusations, listing past transgressions and sadly, the physical abuse. Once the abuser has been outed by the abused having left him he will take care to assure the injuries don’t show. He will avoid bruises or wounds to the face, arms and hands. A sickening alternative often used is choking the victim. The abuser feels great power over her life, it can be done without leaving marks and she is terrified into submission.
- Be Her Champion - Do anything and everything you can to keep your daughter in counseling. If she doesn’t learn to be strong and value herself she is doomed to repeat the same behaviors in every relationship. Help her build her case. Convince her not to tell him anything she is planning or considering. In the heat of anger she may want to show him she can gain the upper hand by telling him all that’s been documented and courses of action open to her. Doing so only allows him to gear up his game plan. The last thing she needs to do is forearm him. Help her gain financial independence. Open a bank account with your name as primary so the statements are mailed to you. Put her name on the account as well and get her a debit card she can hide and have for emergency access. Suggest she squirrel away any funds possible no matter how small. When you visit collect and deposit the funds. Offering to match the funds can be an added incentive. Help her get a prepaid cell phone she can hide in her vehicle or a secret purse compartment. Even if she runs out of minutes she can still dial 911.
- Be Present - No matter how uncomfortable you feel in the presence of the abuser never give him the power to keep you away from your daughter and grandchildren. They need to know you are a constant they can depend on to give them hope. If you can keep yourself from being overly antagonistic with the abuser your presence will offer a respite for your loved ones from the unpleasantness that occurs when you are not around. Normally he will put up a good front while you are there.
- Be Positive - Her abuser constantly degrades your daughter so she needs your support. Let her know you are proud of any efforts she makes to improve her situation. Remind her of her positive attributes. Assure her she is capable and deserves the better life she can build. Laugh with her. She needs to know there is still joy in life! Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Pray with her and for her. Most of all, love her. Don’t be stingy with those hugs. Tender loving contact is a great healer. A person is never too old to need to fall into a parental embrace to feel loved and protected.
- Believe - This is the most important component. If you truly believe your daughter can weather this storm to live a happy productive life on her own she will believe it and make it happen.