How do I deal with a mother who has been in and out of an abusive relationship for years?
February 6, 2011 9:13 AM Subscribe
How do I deal with a mother who has been in and out of an abusive relationship for years? She'll leave him for a few months, but always goes back. Can or will this ever stop? And how to I support her while not condoning her behavior?
My mom has been with this guy (off and on) for over six years. He's almost 10 years younger than her (she's 55) and spent almost a decade in prison for murder when he was a teenager. When they first got together, before I knew anything about him, she flew out to visit me (she lives in a tiny town in Wyoming and I live in Portland, OR). When she showed up she was wearing a lot of makeup and was acting strange. Later that night I walked in when she was washing her face, and saw that she had two black eyes and bruises on her cheeks. At first she was really defensive, but ended up admitting that they got in a fight, and this was not the first time he'd hit her.
After she went back home, I drove out to Wyoming to pick her up and bring her back to live with me (we did this while he was at work because she was scared). She lived with me for three months, and I found out later that she was in contact with him for almost the entire time. He ended up coming out to pick her up, and they got back together (I refused to let him come to my house, so he picked her up at another location).
So that was almost 6 years ago, and she has left him probably over five times since then. I've heard horrible stories about what he's done (including threatening her with a knife), but she always goes back. She'll have break-trough moments where she's supporting herself with a job, taking classes, etc. and I always make sure to tell her how proud I am of her at those times. Then a couple weeks will go by when I don't hear from her, and I'll find out she's with him again. When they get back together she is always too embarrassed to tell me, and I have to find out from my sister, who lives near her. (My sister is 19.)
And as you've probably guessed, she does have an alcohol problem (although she doesn't drink much when she's not with him) and has had abusive relationships before. Her childhood was not good either. I'm just not sure what to do at this point. I love my mother, and I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who has been there for her no matter what. But I can't deal with what happens (and what she becomes) when she's with him. I already refuse to be anywhere near him, so I don't visit when he's around (she just got back together with him a few days ago, after having been apart for over six months). I was thinking of saying something like, "I love you and will always be here for you when you need me. But I can't be in contact with you when you are with him." My worry is that this will make her cut off contact with me completely, and that something bad will happen. I want to be there in case she needs a place to go, but I don't want to condone her actions.
What should I do?