5 Ways to Help Your Daughter End an Abusive Relationship

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Watching your daughter suffer at the hands of an abusive person is a painful experience for any parent. Naturally, you want to intervene and put an end to the relationship. But that is easier said than done. And, it may not be the safest route for her either. Although wanting to help is a natural reaction, try to limit your advice. Your daughter needs to make the decision to break up on her own time. Instead, try encouraging to take back some control in her life. Here are five things you can do to help.

Resist the Urge to Step In and Take Charge

It is vital that your daughter regain control of her life on her own. As much as you want to physically remove her from the relationship, you need to allow her to recognize that the relationship is unhealthy. Unless she is at risk for harm, it is best to allow her to make the decision on her own terms. If you push her too soon, your plans may backfire and she may feel even more committed to her boyfriend. Oftentimes, girls develop an “us against the world” mindset when it comes to their boyfriends. When this happens, she becomes even more entrenched in the relationship. As a result, it is vital that she be in charge of when it ends.

Spend More Time Listening and Less Time Talking

Be sure when your daughter talks to you about her relationship that you truly listen. Also, refrain from judging her so that she will feel comfortable knowing she can confide in you. Ask questions and stay alert. Be prepared to hear anything she has to say without freaking out. But, do not force your daughter to talk if she does not want to. Also, do not give advice unless she asks for your opinion. And certainly do not point out her failures. If she feels she is being blamed for the bullying or judged because she is still with him, embarrassment and shame may keep her from talking with you again. She also may hide the relationship from you, which puts her at greater risk for harm.

Support Her Decisions

Remind your daughter that no matter what she chooses to do, you are on her side. Remember that leaving a bullying boyfriend can be terrifying for her. She's going to need your support and your strength to help her through this time in her life. What’s more, you need to realize that by allowing her to make her own decisions, she is gaining back her self-confidence and taking control of her life. Remember, a bullying boyfriend often controls her every move. So, you do not want to do the same. Let her see that she is smart, strong, and capable.

Encourage Her to Rekindle Relationships with Family and Friends

One of the hallmarks of a bullying and abusive relationship is the isolation from family and friends that exists. It is not uncommon for bullies and abusers to isolate their victims from any network of support. Help your daughter find time in her schedule for healthy friendships. Also, make sure you spend time with her as well. Just knowing that she is not alone will go a long way in helping her build the confidence needed to end the relationship.

Help Her Develop the Skills She Needs to Break Up

Bullying behavior often leaves a victim feeling vulnerable, hopeless, trapped, and insecure. To combat these feelings, do what you can to help rebuild your daughter’s self-esteem. She will need self-confidence and strength in order to stick to her decision to break up with him. Also, help her work on her assertiveness skills while combatting bad habits like people pleasing. And talk to her about how she can learn to be resilient in this situation.

A Word from Verywell Family

If your daughter is experiencing dating abuse, there also is outside help available. For instance, Love Is Respect offers talk, text, and online chat options for people dealing with dating abuse. She can text loveis to 22522 if she has questions or concerns about dating abuse. She also can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE anytime of the day or night to talk with an advocate. Or, visit their website, www.thehotline.org, for a live chat. The key is let your daughter know that she is not alone. In addition to you, she has an entire network of people willing to help her through this situation.

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Article Sources
  • "Should We Break Up?" Love Is Respect. https://www.loveisrespect.org/dating-basics/should-we-break-up/

  • "The Relationship Spectrum." The National Domestic Violence Hotline. https://www.thehotline.org/healthy-relationships/relationship-spectrum/