Support daughter through potential abuse

Published 9:00 am Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Nice Advice by Leah Albert

Dear Leah,

My daughter has been dating a boy from school. They have grown up together — played together in diapers — and it’s been really sweet to see them get so close. My daughter is very active in sports and her academics. She loves volunteering at the animal shelter! 

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Lately it seems her boyfriend has been getting more and more possessive. He calls and texts my daughter constantly, which is nothing new, but the way my daughter is reacting to it has changed. She’s jumpy. She’s worried about upsetting him. She has confided in me and says he gets really jealous and has even threatened one of her male friends. 

I’ve heard a lot about dating violence, and I’m worried these might be early signs of abuse. We’ve always had very honest conversations about life and love, pretty much since she was born. She’s such a smart girl. But I’m worried about her. Can you give me some advice?

Signed, Mom


Dear Mom,

You are catching all of the red flags very early in the game. Good for you! The behavior you have described is very alarming, and you should be concerned. Abusers use a variety of tricks and tactics to hook a victim. Fear and intimidation, like threatening your daughter’s friend, will go a long way in controlling your child, if you let it.

The fact that your daughter confides in you means she knows she’s safe with you. This is a crucial must-have in supporting someone who may be experiencing verbal or emotional abuse. Sooner, rather than later, you need to let your daughter know you are concerned. Whether you bring it up over family dinner, during a quiet moment or when she is reacting to his behavior, she needs to know. You’ll find the right time to talk, and when you do, keep talking.

Abuse thrives on isolation and silence. Let her know you are there for her no matter what. Ask questions — questions about how she’s feeling on any given day, or what she thinks about certain subjects. Any opportunity you get, reinforce the feelings of safety and acceptance with her. Keep encouraging her in her school and outside activities. Encourage her to build relationships with adults she trusts.

Hopefully, in doing so, you will accomplish a number of things. You will be continuing to build her confidence and self-worth at a time when someone is trying to destroy it. You will be her sanity when he is trying to convince her she’s crazy. Emotional abuse can be very confusing for a victim.

Supporting your daughter in this way will give her the clarity to see the abuse for what it is, and the strength to walk away. Take care.


Leah Albert is a fictitious character. She likes wine and writing. Don’t ask her to be a matchmaker. Do send your questions to Leah at