Six Signs Your Daughter is in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship
One minute, she’s your little girl. The next, she’s a stranger. The only thing that happened was your daughter got a new boyfriend.
On the surface, there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with him. In fact, when he first introduced him to you, he was perfectly charming. She seemed happy at first, but before too long, the light dimmed inside of her and now you’re starting to wonder if it’s ever coming back.
Although emotionally abusive relationships are difficult to spot, once you are able to read the signs, you will be able to understand what is happening to your daughter. In doing so, you can her break out of the relationship early so she does not repeat the pattern of abusive relationships throughout her entire life.
These are six signs your daughter is in an emotionally abusive relationship:
1. She becomes secretive.
Often, emotionally abusive boyfriends have some form of sociopathy or narcissistic personality disorder. Those who fall into this category have deep-rooted insecurities and a sense of emptiness, but instead of introspection and self-improvement, they find someone who they can control so they feel powerful. One way of doing this is to force the new girlfriend to keep secrets or tell lies, even if they are damaging to herself.
2. She’s withdrawn.
One thing all emotionally abusive men have in common is a fundamental sense of entitlement. Sometimes, girls are aware that they are in an emotionally abusive relationship, but feel shameful, aren’t sure how to get out of it, or are hoping that if they hold on long enough, they will be able to change him. As a result, she will begin to withdraw from her regular activities, relationships, and from the things that once made her happy.
3. She has a distorted sense of reality or a completely new set of values.
If you find your daughter suddenly having radically different opinions that originated from the new boyfriend, this may be a tell-tale sign she is being emotionally abused. The abuser often establishes early on in the relationship that there is only room for worldview. This compels the abused to adopt his attitudes and quash her own views in an effort to appease him. It’s important to remember that teenagers often try out different views and philosophies. The difference here is when she has adopted them for no other reason than her belief that they make her new boyfriend happy.
4. She defends his bad behavior.
This is probably one of the most obvious signs of emotional abuse, but also one of the most easily overlooked. Teenagers do dumb things and make mistakes. Boyfriends and girlfriends break up and get back together. But when there is a clear pattern of your daughter’s boyfriend being disrespectful to her and disregarding her feelings, and she makes excuses for him, she may be in an abusive relationship.
5. She questions her self-worth without him.
Every teenage girl goes through patterns of self-doubt and feeling like they’re not good enough. However, because the emotionally abusive boyfriend operates on control and entitlement, she will quickly begin to question her ability to be loved. He may even constantly threaten to leave and reinforce a belief that she may not find another boyfriend if he makes good on his threat.
6. Your parental instinct is telling you so.
There are no clear signs of physical damage, but you know something is wrong. If you find yourself lying awake at night thinking it was strange that he was too well put together and that any new teenage boyfriend should have been slightly nervous meeting his girlfriend’s parents, you may be picking up on early signs of abusive behavior. Trust your gut.
What’s important to remember is that if your daughter is in an abusive relationship, it does not mean she is a weak person. Often, because the emotionally abusive boyfriends have narcissistic characteristics, they wind up attracting girls who score high in qualities like empathy and selflessness.
For parents who suspect that their daughters are in an emotionally abusive relationship, know that it’s still early and that there’s time to break the cycle. An institution like MGA can help your daughter break out of the pattern of emotionally abusive relationships and develop healthy interactions with loved ones and set boundaries so they develop a strong sense of self-worth.
For more info contact us and we will be happy to discuss your child’s unique needs, as well as our therapeutic approach, living environment, and plans for a successful homecoming. All communications are confidential.