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19 Year Old Daughter In Abusive Relationship


My 19 year old daughter, living at home with two parents & a younger brother, is in a mentally abusive relationship. She has given up ALL outside activities, friends, relationships. She is currently enrolled in community college, but I fully expect that to end shortly. Her boyfriend is extremely controlling – she goes nowhere, sees no one but him. He has always been welcomed into our home, but comes rarely. She goes to him. They fight constantly. What can I do?

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The extremely difficult answer to your question is that there is nothing you can do to help your daughter. I assume you have already expressed your doubts to her about the boy friend. However, if you lecture her, give her orders or harp on the topic you run the risk of creating a rift between the two of you that could have long lasting negative consequences for your relationship.

The most difficult thing a parent must do is allow their older adolescent make their own mistakes without interfering. An interfering parent will be accused of being controlling and infantilizing by their young adult children. If she is allowed to suffer the consequences of being with this young man she will learn a lot more than by anything you can say and that she will rebel against. If she and the boyfriend fight constantly that is there business. Hopefully, she will get sick of it and end the relationship. However, this must be her decision based on what she wants and pleasing herself rather than her parents or family.

We all want what is best for our children but none of us are omnipotent and none of us can control what our young people will do when they are past a certain age. She is past that age and she will do what she wants regardless of how the rest of us feel.

It is really important for you to try not to worry or think about her friends and her college education. You need to focus on your life and not that of your adult daughter. As the Serenity Prayer states:

"Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The strength to things I can change and

The wisdom to know the difference between the two."

At age 19 your daughter’s choices are among those things you cannot change. All you can do is hope she learns from her errors, like the rest of us, and decides to make changes when she is ready.

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  • Anonymous-1

    Sadly, this is the same conclusion I have reached for myself. while I love her dearly and I don't know that she will ever realize how it hurts to see her make these mistakes, I have realized that they are hers to make and there is nothing I can do. It is is very painful though. I have put it in God's hands and know that He will answer accordingly. I appreciate your response very much - - it helps to know that I have come to the correct conculsion.

  • E

    I too have a 19 year old daughter who is in an abusive relationship but cannot see what is happening to her. Meanwhile I must sit back and wait for her to accept that she cannot change him. She has been dating him for one year now and has lost the gleem in her eyes, close childhood friends and the laughter that made her so endearing to others. Her world revolves around someone who has gained control of her sweet innocence. I miss my beautiful, spirited, spontaneous and sometimes goofy daughter I know she is still in there somewhere and I too have had to leave it in God's loving hands. My arms are open and hungry for her when she is able to made the decision to break away from the "charming" boyfriend that has claimed her essence. I wish peaceful sleep to you other parents who are experiencing the same situation. May you see positive results and a successful return of your most precious gift...a happy, independent and accomlished young woman! I certainly wish for that for my own girl I eagerly await that day. E-

  • E

    I am so very happy to report that my beautiful girl returned home to me. She saw this person for who he truly is. He did a much better job of opening her eyes than I could have ever done. I thank God every single day that she is back physically, emotionally and able to smile again! The sound of laughter and conversations on the phone with her long-time friends never sounded so good! :)

    I pray for a positive outcome for you and your daughter as well as the other parents who are worried and heartbroken.


  • patty

    my 19 year old moved out to be with her bf,and they dont have jobs and he beats on her all the time and has put all of us through so much. they found a friend to take them in and her parents are letting them live there for free. I have never heard of such a thing. She had it made here and her life was set. But, she is giving it all up for this loser who didnt even finish school. We also think he is bi-polar. We love her but it has gotten really out of hand. Any comments,anyone out there!


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