Dear Annie: You’ve probably heard this story a hundred times before. One of my daughters is in an abusive marriage. It is not physical but verbal abuse. Her husband is incredibly controlling: My daughter has no access to money or even mail. She has no freedom of choice in what she does, and he attempts to isolate her from family. He manipulates every situation, every possible situation to his advantage.
My daughter knows that she has full support from her parents and siblings, yet she freezes when she thinks of actually taking the step to leave him. They have a 6-year-old daughter who seems emotionally fragile; I suspect this is from what she has observed at home.
How do I support my daughter when I am so frustrated and saddened by how broken she is? What do I say to assure her that I am ready to help her, but she has to do the heavy lifting?
— Always a Mom
Dear Always: I know it’s frustrating and heartbreaking to watch a loved one in an abusive relationship. But if your daughter feels as though you’re angry or frustrated with her, it only plays into his hand. You must keep the faith and keep the patience. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, on average a survivor will leave their abuser seven times before leaving them for good. And it isn’t because they’re broken or weak; it’s because it’s an extremely difficult situation for anyone to leave, for a variety of reasons: fear of retaliation, a sense of shame or embarrassment or a lack of financial resources, to name just a few. The more you understand the complexities of abuse, the more you will sympathize with your daughter’s apparent hesitation. Visit https://www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233 anytime for information, resources and support. It’s free and confidential.
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