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  1. The Cycle of Abuse and how to stop it

    IN 2003 my (then) 15 year old daughter became obsessively involved with a 16 year old boy who controlled her to the point that he brainwashed her into thinking she did not deserve to be treated properly, that she was not to talk to anyone at all (including me) except him, not to try at school (she is very clever and achieved much higher grades than he did). It was made worse when I tried to gently involve her with others by having a young 16 year old girl from my school (I am a teacher) who was temporarily homeless come and stay with us for 2 weeks. He got very angry about it, and for the next six months, tried his best to turn her away from me. He was helped by his parents who strangely supported him in his quest to stop her from going home. She became very abusive towards me, I now have found out that many of the very hurtful and cruel things she said to me, he made her practice for hours before coming home and saying them. At times she tells me now, she felt like giving up because she didnt know how to get herself out of it. I went through a breakdown over it, and became suicidal at one stage. It got so bad for me I tried to get her to live with them and when she refused, I made arrangements for her to go to boarding school, and I took a job overseas for awhile.

    The above is only a brief comment of what happened, as it is very distressful still to think about it all. My problem is that now we are close again, and she has told me how badly he was treating her. I always thought it was just me and that even though he was controlling her, he was still being nice to her. Apparently, he was treating her so badly that his parents told her that she had to get away from him, and go back to her mum. She eventually got the courage to stand up and say "enough" and after several more months, the courage to try and mend things with me.

    My daughter and I have a history of being very close and affectionate towards each other. Much closer than most, and for this to happen to us shocked everyone, but especially me. I was under a psychologist's care all that year, and he said I had PTSD.

    I am trying so hard to get over what happened, but have two big issues:

    1. It appeared so easy at the time for her to turn away from me and treat me very badly. Perhaps it could happen again, so I find it very hard to relate to her sometimes, and she senses this, and keeps asking why I am quiet, and the whole thing is just "there" between us sometimes. We have talked about it, but she cries and says she doesnt want to know what she did to me, as that year is a blank in her mind and she doesnt want to know what she did. As times goes by, it is getting much better for me, I am starting to function much more normally now, but still I go sort of to a place where I cant feel anything sometimes, and I would like to stop doing this.

    2. I worry about her. She is a wonderful girl, she is so kind, and couldnt be a nicer daughter. But I worry that she is putting pressure on herself to stay being nice ALL THE TIME because of the guilt factor. She truly cannot stand it if she thinks I am upset with her over anything, even though I have tried to tell her that it is OK sometimes to get cranky at me and that it is normal, and I can cope with it. She has lots of male friends but hasnt gotten involved with anyone since 2003 as she doesnt feel ready. That is a good idea, I think, but I worry that she might let someone do that to her again. Doesnt it go in cycles? She appears to be herself with her friends which is encouraging and says that she wont let that happen again. She has gradually gotten back her old life, she was dux at school, she has started dancing again (she was in our national ballet school but he "made" her give it up by threatening me or dancing), she looks after her appearance again (he made her dress down and would get angry if she combed her hair or put conditioner in it) and is generally bright and happy. She is at Uni studying Engineering and doing very well there. The only bad side is that he is doing the course too.

    Do you think she will be OK or should I try and encourage her to go to counselling? I have tried so much in the past (especially during 2003) but she resisted it. I should add that she is very highly strung, has a genius level IQ and has always been much younger than the others in her class because she was accelerated at school, and has a history of very bad anxiety attacks.

  2. #2

    The Cycle of Abuse and how to stop it

    Personally, I can't see how seeing a counsellor could hurt her, but I can see any number of ways it might help her to cope with what's happened in her past. What she went through is bound to have left scars, and she's still very young. She doesn't have the experience, nor the tools gained from experience, to deal with all of the issues by herself. Counselling would give her the opportunity to learn some of those skills and to get things out in the open and off her chest.

    If it were my daughter, I'd certainly make the offer. :o)

  3. #3

    The Cycle of Abuse and how to stop it

    Have you thought about suggesting that you and she go to counselling together? That way you could present it to her as helping the two of you work through what happened and reconstruct your relationship instead of her going to a therapist to 'fix her problems".

  4. The Cycle of Abuse and how to stop it

    In 2003 I tried several times to suggest counselling. I had a great psychologist and he was always hoping that I might have succeeded in getting her to come along. I will try suggesting it again, but I have a lot of concern that she will reject it out of hand and say she just wants to forget about it all. I feel that what she went through has left harmful scars that might affect her when she is older and because she is so young, she doesnt appreciate this. Perhaps I could wait until an opening appears, e.g. if she is upset about something and then talk about counselling. I feel we both really need to go, and I am going to irrespective of her. We are extremely close again, we just get on so well, we are so compatible and really enjoy our friendship without stifling each other, so that is a big plus. I want her to eventually have a healthy positive relationship with her future partner.

    In the end though, if she continues to refuse, there isnt a lot I can do to get her to go. Is there anything else that I could be doing to help the situation?

  5. #5

    The Cycle of Abuse and how to stop it

    That sounds like a horrible nightmare, one of the worst things that could happen to a mother. I'm very sorry you and she went through this awful experience.

    The fact that she's stayed out of relationships for several years shows her cautiousness in this area, as opposed to recklessness. If she has sensible and high functioning friends, they are probably influencing her in the right direction, away from dysfunctional, controlling people.

    There's nothing wrong in offering to have therapy with her. She may want to see a different therapist from the one you were seeing on your own. You could get a referral from that person.

    The best thing you can do for her (IMO) is get into therapy yourself, which you plan to do, to minimize the fears that this will happen again. And to find strategies to cope, in case these fears come up, or in the unlikely event that it does happen again. I think she's trying to protect you from falling apart. So the more you can do to get outside support, that takes the burden off of her.

    nutmeg

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