My daughter, Madison, called me crying at 1:00 am a few days ago. Her boyfriend wouldn’t stop yelling at her. She didn’t know what to do. He is not nor has he ever been physically violent, yet something in her voice hit me strange. Her boyfriend prided himself on never losing his temper. I thought this was just another argument they do, but he wouldn’t stop yelling. Apparently, they had gone to a party and she had spent too much time with her girlfriends. He felt ignored and blew up at her later in the night. I am sure alcohol was involved on both of their parts.
My mind and body were exhausted and I told her to call an uber and come home. Somehow the argument grew to such a level in while she was waiting for the uber driver my daughter had to call the police.
Soon there was a waiting uber driver, two sheriff cruisers, and the two of them in her boyfriend’s front yard. Her boyfriend had let the air out of her car tires and the deputies told him he had to inflate them again, which he did with a lot of grumbling. The deputies told Madison to move her car off the property so the boyfriend wouldn’t take his anger out on it. They had seen that happen far too often. After checking that she was sober, the officers and the uber driver followed Madison to a nearby grocery store. It was around 4:00 am when she arrived at my home crying and heartbroken.
As I drove her to retrieve her car the next day she said she had been talking to her boyfriend.
- He was so sorry
- They had been drinking and that was why they had argued
- She shouldn’t have had drinks with her girlfriends and left him alone. He hated when she drank
- She loved him
The same old excuses began. I had seen this all before. They had only been dating less than a year and there was far too much arguing. Knowing from my own recovery how strong denial can be I simply told her my frog story.
“Madison, do you know how to boil a frog?” She looked at me, head tilted, with a questioning look on her face. “No?” “You turn the heat up so slowly it doesn’t notice. Soon it is dead and it didn’t even know it was in danger until it is too late. Your relationship is starting to look a whole lot like that frog to me.” “That is something to think about,” was her quiet reply.
While her story continues, I decided I could set some strong boundaries:
- Chose to uninvite her boyfriend from Holiday dinner and all future events
- Asked her to tell her boyfriend, if he so much as whispered loudly, I would call the police
- Told her I loved her no matter what and would be there for her no matter what hour and no matter how many times
After finding the frightening statistics below about domestic violence, I felt I had to draw a line in the sand.
- Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.
- Among female victims of intimate partner violence, 94% of those ages 16-19 and 70% of those ages 20-24 were victimized by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend
- Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18
This kind of violence against young girls is far too common. While I am sad to see Madison continue in a relationship with this guy I discovered in my research:
- It is best to not demand she stop seeing him, because she will find a way to see him and then make a secret of it
- Don’t talk about the person, but talk about the behaviors instead, instead of “He is so jealous.” say “I don’t like that he is so jealous of you being with your other friends.”
- Ask them what next steps they would like to take. If they are unsure suggest they research the subject online (Loveisrespect.org is an excellent resource for young people with questions about their relationships)
My hope is that she will continue to grow in her awareness of this situation and leaves the relationship sooner than later. As it is often said in recovery rooms, “More will be revealed.”
Experts say it takes 7 times before a victim fully escapes from an abusive relationship. My daughter has left twice so far. Each time the stakes are higher. This time the police were called.
Even as she continues to date this person I’m glad that I have at least come out of my own denial and have a much clearer picture of what is happening because I can make my life better only when I accept life on life’s terms.
If you are concerned about someone’s relationship or your own call the Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: Madeline Schloop
*Facts sourced from loveisrespect.org