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Domestic Violence

Advising Someone in an Abusive Relationship

03/04/2004

Question:

I wrote on 11-21 concerning our daughter and granchild. That time our daughter didn`t move out did set up counseling the first time she went alone he went the 2nd time. They both decided it was too hard to make arrangements to go. So they didn`t go and everything was good until this last Friday. To make a long story short he really showed out and some friends house yelling and screaming at my daughter, and according to the people who own the house swung at her when she bent down to pick up the baby. The friend`s called the police and he was arrested at the policeman`s discretion, whatever that means. Anyhow, now my daughter says she`s had it and made arrangements fro her and her son to move in with one of her girlfriends. His mom is going to get him out of jail today. My daughter talked to him on the phone and he is mad because she is leaving. She says he needs to work on himself without her there and then they can work on their relationship. I`m inclined to agree with her, since it seems to easy for them not to go when their together to counseling. But, his Mom wants her to move upstairs in one of her empty rooms. She says she loves him and wants it to work that it gets fixed now or she wants a divorce. My question is how wise is this decision? This is just so baffling to our family including my daughter. We have folks saying stay other saying go and don`t look back. Ultimately, it is her decision and we are behind her. But, she naturally looks to us for advise and we are just not sure what the right thing is.

Answer:

Well, this is a difficult process. Oftentimes women do not leave because they are hopeful that their spouse will change. From what you have shared with me, your daughter has become increasingly more aware of what works for her and what does not. The fact that she appears to be thinking about what is best for her daughter and herself is impressive. She also seems to be establishing some parameters around behaviors that she is willing to tolerate and behaviors that are not o.k... Your daughter’s desire to distance herself from her husband is a difficult choice and one that usually requires much thought and preparation. Since there are so many competing voices, perhaps she needs to focus on her own voice. What others want or believe is best for her may not adequately take into consideration your daughter and grandchild’s needs and wishes. Remember, your daughter has been controlled by someone outside herself (her husband) for a significant period of time. Supporting her choice(s) may be the beginning of her learning to exercise control over her life and could lead to a real sense of empowerment for her. 

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Response by:

Cathy   McDaniels-Wilson, PhD Cathy McDaniels-Wilson, PhD
Adjunct Professor
Department of Sociology
The Ohio State University