I am the mother of a beautiful 19 year old daughter. Her father was emotionally and verbally abusive


Staff member
Posted on behalf of @Tornn2

Hello. I have never posted on a forum before, however, I have joined this one to view other's dilemmas, seeming solutions and basically just advise.

I am the mother of a beautiful 19 year old daughter. Her father was emotionally and verbally abusive to both of us. Obviously, this created emotional problems for my daughter on top of an acute anxiety disorder she has had from early childhood. Things eventually escalated wherein my husband, her father, actually violently grabbed her and dragged her from her bedroom after kicking her door down. I filed a protective order and subsequently filed for divorce. This happened in 2015. My daughter had been in counseling since the age of 14.

Fast forwarding. My daughter was doing well. She graduated from high school. Although she still battled with anxiety and depression she seemed to be coming into her own person. In 2018 we had many life changes. We had to sell our home; she had a falling out with several members of my husband's family; she felt ultimate betrayal by her father (messy divorce); and she started college. It was ALOT. By March of that year I was really starting to notice changes in her that concerned me. She had some type of breakdown and stayed in bed for a week. Shut herself off and wanted no communication. Short story she ended up in mental facility as suicide risk.

I subsequently found out that she had been in contact with a young man that she thought she was in love with when she was 14. Yes, she has been obsessed with him ever since. He made it clear he had no romantic interest in her, yet she obviously never moved on. He is not an emotionally healthy person and I would describe him as dark and cynical. After I started putting two and two together, I realized that the extreme changes in my daughter's personality began about the same time that she started to contact him. She has always been respectful and a sweet young woman. Caring, spiritual. She was a diligent student and focused. The past year she has evolved into a crass, "don't care," almost selfish person. She continued to defy my rules, which were fair and basically for her own protection. She even agrees that I am fair and liberal. I had set clear boundaries and the consequences for breaking them. She broke them and I told her to leave. She is now living with him and his family. She currently isn't in school; she's dyed her hair blue/black; she has pierced her ears in different places; last night she tells me she getting her nose pierced and a tatoo on her ankle. She can't keep a job; When I try to reason with her all I get is "I don't know," or "I'll figure it out." By the way, I point blank asked her "love interest" in front of her his feelings for her and he said he "cares for her" but isn't "in love" with her. And yet, when I ask her what's going on with them "are they a couple?" She says "I don't know, I guess."

The mother in me fights going and snatching her out of the dump she's staying in and bring her home and say "this is how it's going to be." But, of course, I know she is 19 and an "adult" and that I can't technically do that.

Help! Any suggestions? Do I just let her do these things, ruin herself and hit rock bottom or should I be more "proactive?"

P.S. She has been on bipolar medication for approximately six months. I think that's why I'm so desperate because I feel like that she is mentally unstable and not capable of good decisions. But she is defiant.


Well-Known Member
You cant legally do anything. Learn to accept.

She is 19. You cant kidnap her or tresspass on the property or YOU can go to jail.

My daughter is 32. Mentally ill. Bipolar they said but no longer takes medications. Just POT! In abusive relationship. Until this year we tried everything and ended up this way:


Almost arrested for tresspassing

In debt to a few lawyers. We paid up but are even more broke.

Nervous wrecks with illnesses made worse by stress

Estranged (this is new but we saw it coming)

Go on with your life. As hard as it is you cant do anything for a child over 17 unless she agrees. It doesn't matter if she is mentally ill or not.

Dont waste years and money like we did. In the end every part of her life, good or dangerous, is her choice and you can get into legal trouble yourself if you violate the law trying to save her.

Wait for her to come to you. Mine did not. Maybe yours will. Our daughter even tried to get a TRO on us for calling too much She was livimg in a a house we bought her at the time. Yep. The TRO never happened but we were devestated.

Let God take over. You cant do anything.
Last edited:


New Member
Thank you busynmember. I know reality is I can't make her do something she doesn't want to do.

And you are right. I have to leave it in God's hands.


Well-Known Member
Dear Tornn2

Welcome. Your story has elements of my own when I was a teen, and also that of my son, and my relationship with him.

I had an abusive stepfather. Your description of the way your ex treated your daughter made me remember things in my own past, that I suppress.

And my own son has had difficulty coping, several hospitalizations, a hard time launching, etc. He is now 30 and pretty much homeless. It is very, very hard to watch a beloved adult child struggle, and feel pretty much powerless to help them. It triggers me. The sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness is hard to bear. And guilt.

Let me just write a couple things to respond to you.

I agree. Your daughter is an adult. You are limited to the influence that she allows you. I had abusive relationships when I was her age. She, like I did, will learn in time that she has value and options. Meanwhile, you are staying in her corner and you are there to support her when she is ready. What more can you do?

You are going through this with her. And it is triggering you, too. All of us believe that on some level we bear some responsibility for what our children experienced, and their inability to come to grips with it. This brings up a boundary issue for us. What is our child's distress? And what is our own distress? Can the two really be separated? How?

This is where it becomes useful to be in therapy and/or to go to a 12 step program like Al Anon or Codependents Anonymous or AA. Because bottom line we can only deal with our own life (or not.)

All of us here on this site, struggle with dealing with our child's pain, and how it affects us, until we see that the only way we can respond in a constructive way is to define the work in terms of ourselves.

Many of us find that our adult children respond favorably when we begin to live in a way that improves our own well-being, and that does include setting appropriate healthy boundaries about how their conduct and lifestyles affects us.

Your daughter is an adult woman. She can and will make her own choices. But you, as another adult woman, can make your own. However difficult to do, you can choose to orient your life, your thoughts, your activities, etc. to that which makes you happy, and you get to the point that you feel you are doing things that give you meaning, and well-being. I believe that is the purpose of this site.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
The only way you can force an adult child to behave is by holding money over their head. That was how my dad controlled me. I was a very serious student and needed him to pay my tuition. I could have worked my way through, but I wanted to make A's instead of C's. College was a lot harder back then, anyway.

Some kids will decide they don't want their parents' money badly enough to be controlled, and they have freewill.


Active Member
Welcome- we have all been in similar situations here and understand. I have been in a situation much like yours with my daughter who is now 28. When my daughter was 14 she and her stepmother got into a horrible argument and she called and told me she would run away if I didn't pick her up. I talked to her father and convinced him to let her come stay at my house for a month or two (we had shared custody) to let things cool off. Well, he and his wife packed up everything of my daughter's and dropped it all off at my house and she never went back to his house. Of course this damaged her. She was already a risk taker, but after that it was one mess after another. She became pregnant by her abusive boyfriend and had my granddaughter when she was 19. Those next five years were a nightmare. Her life was complete chaos and there was a child in the mix. She was completely irrational and disrespectful with me. I tried a couple of times to let them stay at my house, but nothing changed. My granddaughter was little the final time I kicked my daughter out for not following the basic rules of my home. There were several times that we were estranged. It has been hell, but I learned to focus on myself. Since my daughter is an adult I can't control her behavior, only she can. So once I learned to focus on my life, health and happiness things between us got better. She is in a much better place now. She's not where I would like her to be, but it's not up to me. I have learned to maintain my peace of mind no matter what is going on with her. I learned healthy boundaries and how to maintain them. I learned to really look at my role in the problems, my co-dependence and my reactions. The only thing I can control is my life. Once I really grasped that and started working on myself I was much more well-equipped to deal with my own stress and worry in regard to my daughter's life choices. I know how very difficult this is. Sending peace to you.