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Rape and Abuse If you or someone you know is being abused in any way and you need support or advice, don't hesitate to reach out to us here.

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Not sure what to do about this. - August 28th 2017, 04:50 AM

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Okay, so, this is kind of a confusing post for me to make, because it feels very odd and new to say - but I am 99% certain that my dad is emotionally abusive towards my mom, and has been for many years.

I say I'm 99% sure because this is just something that kind of hit me today, mainly because my mom is dangerously in denial of how bad their relationship is and I've been figuring out a lot of it on my own. I think that she really, really wants to believe that he's a good guy and that they're having normal marriage problems, and she's said that she doesn't see herself as the kind of person who would end up in an abusive relationship.

But I think that she is. It feels almost wrong to say that, because my dad really does seem like a good guy a lot of the time, but their relationship displays very nearly all of the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. She also told me today that sometimes he punches walls and knocks things over when he's really angry, which I hadn't known before (he's very different with her than with my brother and I), and that information scared me a lot because I think of it as a serious warning sign for physical violence.

Anyway, the point of this is - I don't really know what to do. My mom doesn't have a degree and has never had a career. My dad supports our whole household, and we don't have a ton of money to begin with. She could get a minimum wage job if she had to, but I don't think she could reasonably support herself and my little brother; their quality of life might actually get worse than if she'd just stayed with him. And she's been married to him for 20 years. She really feels like she can't leave him, and she might be right. But their relationship is in pieces, and honestly, I don't trust him. He's cheated before. He's repeatedly found methods of spying on her while he's at work and she's at home. He's jealous and controlling and constantly paranoid that she's having an affair (and I am completely certain that she is not, and would not), so he won't let her really have any male friends (or even talk to men, really) or go out very much. She thinks he got into her phone and searched it. He slams doors when he's angry. He comes home from work randomly in the middle of the day to try to catch her cheating on him or something. He's constantly watching her and keeping tabs on her whereabouts and who she's talking to; she can barely even have friends in an online word game she plays on her phone. He's figured out the names and numbers of the people she's friends with on there and literally called them before to tell them who knows what, but probably to figure out if she's having an affair.

I don't know if he would ever try to hurt her if he was angry or if she tried to leave, and that scares me. I wish I knew for sure that he wouldn't. She needs to get out of this relationship, but I don't know if that's possible at all. If she does have to stay in the relationship, I'd love to know if there's anything she could feasibly do to make it better/safer for herself.

Does anyone have any ideas/suggestions?


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Re: Not sure what to do about this. - August 28th 2017, 09:35 AM

Wow, sorry that's the situation. Often in these kinds of situations, where it's really out of one's control, the best thing one can do, at least this is what they keep telling me at group, is take care of yourself, find a support group you can join, if there is one for people who have parents who don't get along with each other, or the parents have problems. Actually, maybe there's an Al-Ateen group, or Nar-Ateen, or something like that. There are sometimes groups for teens, or even adults, Al-Anon & Nar-Anon, I think teens are welcome there too, and you'll find supportive people, who understand, because they all have either parents with problems or children with problems, and that's what the groups are for, people who have close relatives or friends who have problems, which tend to become their problems, and they've found that meeting once a week helps keep them sane. Something about being around supportive people, in a calm environment, for an hour, seems to relax the mind.

(I should go. I haven't been going and I need to get back to doing that, as I'm getting depressed and I can feel the difference.)

The other idea is, if you take care of yourself, so you become a bit more stable and relaxed and less caught up in other people's problems, then you become a catalyst that other people notice you're a bit calmer and happier, and those emotions are contagious, and it helps the others to relax a bit, and the whole dynamics slowly shifts to something more positive.

So whatever helps keep you happy. Meditation, yoga, walking, exercise, socialize with friends.

So it's not a direct "I'll figure out their problems and I'll figure out a solution," it's more of a "I'll take care of myself and be good to myself so I'm well, and I'll learn to love them and at the same time detach from them, which is kind of a tricky thing. That's what they teach in the groups, how to "detach with love". It's something that once you feel it then you get it. But you have to be well yourself, and then it's easier to do.

Plus you become someone who's there for them if they want to talk. We learn the art of listening without trying to "fix" their problems, once we understand that the listening itself is the cure they need. It's not that they have a problem, it's that they are upset by their problem, which is actually a second problem. The original first problem we may not be able to help with, but we can help with the second problem, helping them with their feeling upset about it. We do that by listening, and when they feel heard, that someone has actually listened to them and understands how they feel, then they feel better. (I know it's weird, but I've experienced it myself, where I spent an hour bitching about my life, and afterwards I felt better, which didn't make any sense, because I knew the world hadn't changed in the past hour, and I still had all my problems, but somehow I wasn't ruminating about them anymore.)

Well that's all I can think of. I'm sorry people suffer so much. Not sure what your dad is afraid of. He must feel insecure if he's afraid your mom is cheating on him. Not really sure what would drive him to be so insecure. Maybe contemplate what their deepest fears are. Or maybe not. I'm not sure.

Maybe someone else has some ideas.

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Re: Not sure what to do about this. - August 30th 2017, 04:32 PM

The first thing is, you can't do much of anything. Your mom has to be the one to make the decision to leave. I have family who have been involved in physically abusive relationships and there was nothing any of us could do because those family members did not want to leave the relationship. The other issue that you are likely to face in regards to getting your mom to realize the relationship is abusive is the fact that there is no 'violence;. A lot of people who deal with emotionally abusive relationships either don't see them as abusive or they think that it could be worse and it is just words etc. If your mom doesn't realize that it is abusive than she is even less likely to take a chance and leave the relationship.

In regards to your mom leaving, it is very likely that she would be entitled to alimony especially since they have been married for 20 years. Also, depending on the type of work he does...she could be entitled to a portion of his retirement etc. However, depending on how much your dad makes each year the alimony might not be a whole lot. This is something she'd likely need to consult a lawyer about. I know that my sister in laws mom is going to be owed alimony. This will definitely help her but she has to look for a job as well. Like your mom, she has no real education but she does have experience with helping her ex-husband run his business and do some book keeping. So, your mom might not be quite as destitute as you are thinking especially if she were to get a job and get alimony (she would also get child support for your brother).

However, I am not 100% certain how she can look into her options since your dad monitors everything she does.

Have you talked to her about your concerns? Maybe talked to her about seeing if you and her can work out a way for her to get out? Does she have family she can get help from until she can get on her feet?


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Re: Not sure what to do about this. - August 30th 2017, 11:03 PM

Thank you both so much for your answers. I know that there's really very little that I can do, which is a hard fact to face, but I appreciate the suggestions that you guys did have!

I am trying to help her realize what's going on, and I think that she's becoming more and more aware and having "realizations" over time. She's not super comfortable talking about their relationship or the things my dad does, so we don't discuss it very often, and it feels kind of like a thin line that I don't want to cross - but the other day we talked and I showed her a list of signs of emotional abuse, and I could tell that something kind of clicked for her when she read it (my dad does very nearly every thing on the entire list). I think that she is slowly realizing what's happening.

It is good to hear that she would probably still get some financial support from him if she left, assuming that he was able to keep his job. He was a complete wreck the last time they almost got divorced (which has happened several times), so I can't even imagine what he'd be like if she really left him. But best case, I guess she could get some money from him and then get a minimum wage job of some sort. Which wouldn't be ideal by any means; we'd probably lose our current house and I don't know what would happen with my college education, if I'm still in school when she does that, but it could maybe work.

It's true though that it would be very difficult for her to look into her options without getting found out, and the only family that I think they could stay with is my grandma, who doesn't have much money either.

These do feel like potential options though, so thank you. I'll see if I can bring things up with her at some point. My dad has hidden recorders in the house and her car before to record her conversations/phone calls/whatever else and listen to them later, so it feels kind of unsafe to talk about these things in the open anywhere (we never really know if he's currently recording or not), but I'll see if I can find a way!


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Re: Not sure what to do about this. - August 31st 2017, 03:38 PM

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Originally Posted by Concinnity View Post
Thank you both so much for your answers. I know that there's really very little that I can do, which is a hard fact to face, but I appreciate the suggestions that you guys did have!

I am trying to help her realize what's going on, and I think that she's becoming more and more aware and having "realizations" over time. She's not super comfortable talking about their relationship or the things my dad does, so we don't discuss it very often, and it feels kind of like a thin line that I don't want to cross - but the other day we talked and I showed her a list of signs of emotional abuse, and I could tell that something kind of clicked for her when she read it (my dad does very nearly every thing on the entire list). I think that she is slowly realizing what's happening.

It is good to hear that she would probably still get some financial support from him if she left, assuming that he was able to keep his job. He was a complete wreck the last time they almost got divorced (which has happened several times), so I can't even imagine what he'd be like if she really left him. But best case, I guess she could get some money from him and then get a minimum wage job of some sort. Which wouldn't be ideal by any means; we'd probably lose our current house and I don't know what would happen with my college education, if I'm still in school when she does that, but it could maybe work.

It's true though that it would be very difficult for her to look into her options without getting found out, and the only family that I think they could stay with is my grandma, who doesn't have much money either.

These do feel like potential options though, so thank you. I'll see if I can bring things up with her at some point. My dad has hidden recorders in the house and her car before to record her conversations/phone calls/whatever else and listen to them later, so it feels kind of unsafe to talk about these things in the open anywhere (we never really know if he's currently recording or not), but I'll see if I can find a way!
If worse came to worse your mom could go to a shelter. There are shelter's that are tailored to people that are in abusive relationships. I believe that these shelters will also help the woman find a job and other resources in their area since in a lot of abusive relationships the abusive partner goes out of their way to 1)Alienate the person from family and friends and 2) they go out of their way to make that person reliant on them financially. If a person relies on their abusive partner for financial stability it is a whole lot easier for the abusive partner to keep a grip on them.

That being said, those types of shelter's usually have a whole lot of rules and not everyone likes those rules. I know they have a 'curfew' for the people that are in the shelter and they also have rules about visiting. I volunteered at one for a bit but I am blanking on the rules pertaining to visiting. I think one of the rules was that the visitors weren't allowed in the house. They had to meet outside of the shelter and they also had to get approval.

But, I have heard decent things about those types of shelters. One of the woman who worked for the shelter actually utilized their services and they helped her get back on her feet and she was able to get a decent job with them. I know they will discuss options and help the person figure out what they need to break free of the relationships.

The other thing is that they say that most people who are in an abusive will end up going back to the abuser, on average, of like 7-8 times before leaving for good. So, getting your mom to truly leave him might take a bit of time.

Also, I do know the shelter isn't a viable option for everyone. I also know some people that go to the shelter end up leaving because the don't like all the rules they have to follow. However, it still might be a good idea to look into any domestic violence shelters near you (either in your city or in a neighboring city). At least if you have information about it your mom could look into it if she ever wanted to leave but wasn't sure how to go about doing so.


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Re: Not sure what to do about this. - August 31st 2017, 06:14 PM

That idea actually hadn't even occurred to me! Thank you I'll look into that. If it ever gets really, really bad and she has to leave immediately, a shelter seems like it could be a viable option.


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