Question: Dear Luise: I was married for 15 years. We were supposedly a ethical couple, raising an ethical family, but I think now that perhaps I deluded myself into believing that. He was a man who had a lot of demons to wrestle with from a very hard youth, and meant well, but he could never seem to conquer or even cope with his troubles. We had two children, a boy and a girl and I had one son from a previous relationship. All throughout the time we were married,he and I would come to blows, but I made a lot of excuses, saying that it was OK, because I could give as good as I got. It wasn’t true, but it’s how I convinced myself I wasn’t being hurt. After we had been married only about a year he became a little too harsh in his discipline of our children; then he became straight up violent, and I became afraid for them–when he would go to discipline or punish them, I would get in the way and take the blows. Stupid, I know, I should have left earlier rather than late. Because of my faith, I tried to hold on and read every help-your-marriage book available, trying desperately to “Make it work” or “fix it”. He was very dedicated to his pornography websites, and when the two older were in their early teens, youngest was about 8, I caught him showing it to our children, both the boys and our daughter. Whether you’re trying to maintain an ethical home or not, that behavior is deplorable and I made it as clear to him as I dared that he must not ever do that again. I am sure he ignored me, of course, but I tried. I have been very worried about his relationship with my daughter. At different times, my daughter has screamed at me that he raped her, only to recant when I have tried to get her to agree to see a counselor or talk to the protective services. Her demeanor and behavior are consistent with a child who has been molested, but I can’t get her to cooperate with taking legal action. Its hard to tell because she was the victim of a sexual assault when she was 6, the two boys were 7 & 8, so I doubt was raped but she was held at knife point and forced into some sort of sexual activity. So much for the safety of military housing!! So I do not know if her behavior is a result of that attack, or if her father really did rape or molest her. When I have tried to get her to talk to counselors at all, she only goes in and rants about how much she hates me, she won’t talk to them about anything else. The last three have told me bluntly that they cannot have her in their practice, because she does not want help, and they cannot help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. Four years ago he made an attempt on my life that left me crippled and with severe vision loss (which thank God healed, bruised nerves) for about four months. I lied and claimed a fall was the cause. Again, I know it was stupid, but I was trying very hard to hold the family together and convince myself I could. However, after an incident where he dislocated my oldest son’s shoulder, I knew there was no hope left. When I was able, I took the children and left the state to a friend’s home I knew was safe. I didn’t contact the authorities, because I had seen how domestic violence cases were handled in our small, rural town, and frankly, the victims seemed to more often than not come out with mud on their faces, than getting any real help to safety. There had long since been no love in the marriage, so I had certainly already had time to grieve over the loss of it. Joe moved to the same state at the same time, but having left home, I felt empowered, and filed for divorce as soon as I could. I also, unfortunately, did not behave in an ethical manner. The friend who took the kids and I in, is now my husband. It was not planned when I left home, as silly as that may sound, but that is the truth of it. He had just been divorced and had custody of his four children. He is a gentle, kind man, very loving, and very generous. He has sought the hearts of all three of my children, as I have pursued the hearts of his. As these were family friends, the kids had grown up knowing each other, and getting along wonderfully. We have both returned to our faith, on which our ethics are based and are ever more dedicated to serving in church and our community, and teaching our children to serve others. We do not require that they be of our faith, but they are required to go to church with us on Sunday morning, and Wednesday night. My divorce was final on the 5th of Feb 09, and my husband and I got married the 3rd of March 09. That sounds ridiculously fast, and just morally awful, but the truth of the matter is, I had been alone for so much longer than the six months the divorce took–my “ex” had checked out of our marriage years before, except for his demands for very twisted relations. My daughter and my younger son have lived with my husband and I since the separation. (My oldest is grown and on his own, and has a very positive relationship with my husband.) My daughter began pursuing a bi-sexual lifestyle when she was 12 or 13, shortly after her father started showing her that type of pornography–his favorite. (it embarrasses me to even type such filth!) My daughter has at different times been very angry at me for marrying again so quickly, although her father was in a relationship with his now-wife before I was legally able to file for divorce. Of course, so was I, with my now husband. In any case, she now says she HATES me for leaving her dad, HATES me for getting married again so fast. She says I should have waited to get married. I asked her for how long and for what reason?? I ask her would it have changed anything? She says no, but I should have waited. She is angry with me for being happy with my husband. She says she wants to strike us when she sees us holding hands, or if she sees us sharing a hug or a kiss. She also screams and yells how she hates ou god and religion, and she is in an actively homosexual relationship with a 14 year old girl near where her father now lives (1400 miles away) which at times I’ve wondered if she is in to try and get me to “hate her.” She is 17 1/2 years old, and full of venom and hate. I have NOT condemned her homosexual activity. I have done everything I can to make it clear to her that I love her no matter what, but she insists that I can’t love her, that I must hate her, and she hates me back. She also has now decided that her father is a good and decent man, and that even if he was abusive, it was probably because of me, and it doesn’t matter whose fault it is, (it isn’t his of course!)–but he has changed now and only she knows what a good and wonderful man he is. She is bitterly angry that my parents and sisters do not like her father, and it’s none of their business to dislike him for mistreating the children and I, they should like him because he’s a good man now. She is angry at them for liking and really enjoying being with my husband. She seems to hate my husband most of all. She is just sure that he is awful in some way, really awful; she insists that everything he has done to try and provide for and care for her is just kissing up that he doesn’t really love her either because he believes in God, so he has to hate her for being a homosexual too. She is very mouthy and disrespectful to him, and criticizes everything he does, from the way he brews coffee to the way he built shelves for her. She has been cruel to her younger brother, who is afraid of their dad (with very good reason), and is coping with PTSD and brain damage, as well as being autistic. (He is 13). She is also nasty and mean-mouthed to her step-siblings. The worst of it has been directed at me, however. I have had to call the police once because she attacked me, and probably should have on two other occasions, but I was trying to work it out between us.
On Saturday morning right after I woke up, she came and informed me that she was moving to TX to live with her Dad, and nothing I could do would stop her, so I better just face it and let her go. I do have sole physical/legal custody of her until her 18th birthday in March; he has only visitation rights. Of course, I don’t want to let her go, but I feel I have no choice; she has vowed to make everyone here in our household suffer if she is not allowed to go immediately. She is not willing to try and see a family counselor together, or even cool down a few days. I do not know what precipitated this decision; we had been getting along pretty well, and she seemed almost like she was sort of happy. Friday, we went out to lunch and shopping just the two of us and we had a lot of fun, and she thanked me for the day. Saturday, she determined I hated her, and that I had replaced her with my step-daughters. (I haven’t spent a day out with any of them in months.) I have serious misgivings here!–her father and his wife brag about going to their “swinger” parties and have both mused at how interesting it would be to take my daughter to one of these and see how she does. Even if it was said in jest, that is NO WAY for a father and step-“mother” to talk about a child!! But she doesn’t care about anything that has happened in the past, except what I have done. She says she needs time with her Dad so she can forgive me for ruining her family. I don’t even understand how I “ruined” her family! And now I’m responsible for all the evil that her father did. “He wouldn’t have is you had…” I just don’t understand this!! Luise, will she ever come back, or is my daughter gone for good?? I don’t want to be a doormat to this child anymore, but… What is your take on this? M.
Answer: Dear M.: You need more than my take on this. I think you need a supportive community of women who are helping each other with serious issues with their adult and near-adult children. Please come over to my Web-forum designed for this purpose. www.WiseWomenUnite.com It is in its third year and a great deal has been accomplished there. You will get my perspective, as well. Blessings, Luise