HELP ME, RHONDA
Portrait by Terrie Fraser
I have a 23 year old daughter who’s been living with an abusive, controlling man for 18 months.
He has not hit her (to my knowledge) but he plays mind games, belittles her, controls who she can see and when, and rules her life.
He’s also a drinker and gambler who has money worries and works intermittently. They live in a country town about 200 kilometres away from us.
My daughter was at university until he made her leave (twice), and now has a part-time job as a waitress, because he can ‘keep an eye on her’ in that type of job, and he doesn’t want her educated. Last year she became pregnant and the abuse ramped up so much she fell apart and came home for three months; she was so psychologically ill she lost the baby.
I took her to a psychotherapist who told her she was being abused and worked with her for a couple of months, and at that time my daughter agreed that he was bad news, started a new uni. course close to our home, went out casually with a couple of other young men, and seemed happy.
She also had lots of information from abused women’s groups, and took it all in. The man, of course, kept on at her incessantly, and in the end she went back to him very suddenly, telling us only that she was ‘so in love’ with him that she had to give him another go.
Now she doesn’t tell us anything about the relationship as she used to. She says he agrees that he has behaved badly towards her and doesn’t abuse her any more, but we don’t believe this because she is so secretive and because he keeps her from seeing us, which we don’t believe he would do if he really was contrite. We’ve been desperate to get her away from him but nothing has any effect. We aren’t fighting with her as we talk to her pleasantly every few weeks and see her a couple of times a year, but because this man won’t come near us (as he believes we ‘poisoned’ our daughter against him when she came home last year), contact is necessarily limited.
Our daughter was a beautiful, bubbly, loving and intelligent girl from a stable family who did well at school and was so confident that she spent 12 months overseas as an exchange student to France as a 16-year-old, but she’s now given up her life for him. She’ll probably fall pregnant again or get married (the man is very keen for both), but the idea of either fills us with horror.
Can you think of anything that might help to get her to see what she is doing with her life? And if she tells us she is going to marry him, what on earth will we do?
Yours Sincerely, Jane
Domestic violence is a very serious crime. As you are fully aware it can be in the form of psychological abuse – instilling fear, control, isolating, destroying self-esteem and hope. It can be in the form of physical abuse resulting in all of the psychological impacts, as well as broken bones, bruising, rape and torture. And domestic violence can and does result in death.
Domestic violence is absolutely unacceptable and must be treated as the serious crime it is by all levels of law enforcement in Australia. Tragically, on this front, there is still a long way to go.
The insidious result of domestic violence is the fact that victims’ think it is their fault – that if only they did something different or were somehow different in their essence – then it wouldn’t happen. In other words they have internalized the hatred expressed in the abuse towards them – they take it in and make it theirs and this in turn makes it very hard for them to say, ‘no more’.
Perpetrators of domestic violence are bullies who don’t even see the woman as a person, but as an object for them to act out their frustrations with the world. Perpetrators are desperate to keep the woman locked into this position as she serves an essential role as his punching bag – psychological and physical.
So it is no wonder that you are desperately worried and very very sad to see your daughter in this highly risky situation.
|Page 1 of 2||next >>|