In summary: I am the daughter. My mother is being domestically abused by my father. What can I do to make him stop without hurting my mother in any way? - she still loves him!

Details: My father is a very abusive character. When I was a child, he used to go into 'rage' modes where he would just beat the life out of my mother. Trying to interfere would only get me enough injuries to not be able to go to school for the next week. As he got older, the rages got fewer but he would still lash out randomly. I'm not talking about the odd slap to the face kind of abuse - I am talking about the kind of abuse that lasts for up to 20 minutes, and renders my mother bloody and swollen and not able to walk for days. Growing up it was extremely painful (physically and mentally) for me and I still wake up from the nightmares. I was terrified of him - I think I've spoken about 15 words with him my entire life.

I moved out when I was 18, reasoning that I could get my mother to come live with me, but she refuses to go anywhere without him.

The last time I went to visit, they started an argument and I interfered and told my dad to back off. He started yelling things at my mother saying she's been training me to go against him, and I wound up backing off at the request of my mother.

I would very much like to file a complaint against him but that would just make things worse for my mother - she wants to be with my father (and I don't understand her) and furthermore, if I do file a complaint, I am sure I will never be able to see my mother again.

I have thought of this so much for the past week that I am hopeless and see no way forward. I even considered paying him some cash every month, almost a bribe to not fight with my mother.

Can you think of any way I can put an end to this without hurting my father's ego so it wouldn't create any more consequences? If only I can find a way to persuade him to not physically abuse my mother...

  • I moved out to a different country as soon as I could (that's how much distance I wanted between us) and though I now live in a better place, my mother still lives in a third world country where help for cases like this is not readily available - certainly no helpline that I can find online, but a legal action may be a possibility.

  • During the times when "arranged marriage" was the only acceptable type of marriage, my parents loved each other and, naturally, their parents / family did not agree to that, so they had to do the "runaway marriage" - because of this, neither my mother's family nor my father's family are now in contact with any of us. So getting family members involved is not an option.

Thank you for answering, I was just hopeful that maybe there is a way.. a strategy.. or something I could to to intervene. Looks like professional help is the way to go, though I am scared of that route.

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    The domestic violence helpline (as suggested below) is a good start, I would start with them but do not be surprised if they recommend taking legal action by contacting the police. It dos not sound like your mother is safe in that situation.
    – kleineg
    Commented Jul 7, 2014 at 19:33
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    Your mother will be hurt by being convinced to leave or having him removed, but she will be hurt a lot less than enduring his abuse. The level and frequency you suggest makes it unlikely that he can be reformed, getting her out of that situation is the best thing you can do.
    – kleineg
    Commented Jul 7, 2014 at 19:35
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    I would caution you that statistically children who had abusive parents are more likely to become abusive parents. I sincerely hope you can help your mother, but at the very least do your best to not live by his example. Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 12:43
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    I assume that my comment will not have much of a support, but nonetheless. People like this are crap. Mostly they are weak and try to show their strength by hurting others. They can not understand anything else except of violence (any normal negotiation they count as weakness and will try to exploit it). If I were you I would find some people in a nearby boxing club who could beat the stupidity out of him. Only fear can stop this guy. I know that this is kind of illegal but if options like speaking with your mother or calling a police does not suit you, in my opinion this is an option. Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 22:27
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    Many problems have no easy answer, and some have no answer at all. I expect this problem has no answer at all. If you can get your mother to leave him and join you, that would probably be best, but if she won't and would cut off communication with you, then it isn't a solution, and there is no other. You can't help someone who doesn't want help and is in a position to refuse it.
    – Marc
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 16:34

10 Answers 10


First off let me applaud you loudly for taking this step. Many in similar situations are too ashamed to admit it to others. Your mother is one example.

Unfortunately, this is a large complex problem, which we can help only minimally online.

Google "abused women help" - Which resources look useful to you?

In the United States, many cities have shelters for abused women. Contact the closest one. She needs to know that she has options- there is another way to live.

I am not an expert, but apparently getting the police involved lessens the risk to her sometimes.

Other resources are:

  • Join a Codependent's Anonymous group or similar.
  • Many churches
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    I had second thoughts of opening up like this in public and I even tried to delete this question, but couldn't because there were answers already. I will try and search for professional help, thank you Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 10:49
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    We're not a Christian nation, but I may be able to find a group of abused women or something similar. Initial searches show nothing in my country but I will keep trying. Thank you. If all else fails, I will try and get the police involved - though I dont know what the outcome of that will be.. Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 11:02
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    @gone-tomorrow although all outcomes are possible (ranging from your mother being upset because your intervention, but even a neighbor could have called the police), as your mother gets older she will be less resistant to such abuses. At the end, you could end up regretting not have done a thing... Good luck for you! Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 16:16
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    @gone-tomorrow As you saw, you can't delete your question after it has received answers (it's content policy). But if it is very important for you, you can delete your account: parenting.stackexchange.com/help/deleting-account . However, you are safe in your anonymity here. You do not need to delete to protect yourself, but it's up to you. I am glad you reached out for help (it's hard to!), and I hope the community helped. All the best to you.
    – ANeves
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 17:46

There are no easy answers. You need to seek professional help and encourage your mother to do the same. A domestic violence helpline is a good place to start. Be patient and supportive, and help her get into a position where she is strong and self confident enough to do what she needs to do for herself.

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    Thank you, I cannot find any helplines for my country but will keep looking. Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 10:47
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    It might be worth calling a helpline abroad - they may still be able to offer some help.
    – Kramii
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 14:10

In my experience, which is both of the personal and professional kind, the problem lies not with your father, but with your mother.

hey, ho, you're wrong, you scream while banging your fist in the air.

Actually, hear me out. It isn't her fault that he is abusive, no, but the problem lies with your mother none the less. Someone mentioned the Stockholm Syndrome, which is close to what your mother experiences.

It is often the case that physical abuse in a relationship comes packaged with a fair bit of emotional manipulation where the abuser bit by bit takes away the identity of the abusee by "pushing them down" and then "pulling them up" repeatedly. This emotional (and, in your case, physical) "jerking" effectively makes the victim associate their well-being with the abuser.

In your case, your mother probably truly believes that without your father, she's worth nothing.

As you might have started to figure out, there's few things you can do, and what little you can do won't guarantee any quick results.

In my experience, tearing them apart by force (i.e. filing a complaint) will either put distance between you and your mother or she might even go back to him, but this might be a solution.

Step one for you, I believe, is to contact social services in your (their) area and explain to them that you are worried for the well being of your mother. If possible, bring evidence such as photographs.

EDIT: As Jasmine wrote in a comment, this behaviour is mostly subconscious and to clarify a bit; your father is not "evil" in any way. Just as your mother need help, so does your father.

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    I think you should add that these are subconcious things that we can't control.
    – Jasmine
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 18:43
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    I disagree with the part about the father is not "evil" in any way. He may not have control over his thought patterns, but he certainly has control over his actions. Physically beating someone over and over without doing anything to fix it is a pretty evil act, and he is 100% responsible for it. I also don't like the statement that the "problem lies not with your father, but with your mother." Yes, she is doing things that make it easier for the situation to happen, but she is not the problem. If the father weren't an abuser, no matter how she behaved, she wouldn't get physically beaten
    – user9164
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 15:32
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    What kind of profession do you belong to where victim-blaming is your professional diagnosis?
    – swbarnes2
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 21:44
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    she is doing things that make it easier for the situation to happen: That's where you misinterpreted my meaning. She is not responsible in any way for his abuse. As I wrote, the mother probably truly believes that without the father, she's worth nothing. As long as that's the case, that's what's keeping them together (I interpreted the OP as the parents relationship are "working" aside from the abuse, i.e. he isn't actively threatening her when he isn't beating her) and that's what the problem is. They need to be separated, but she'll probably return to him in no time. Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 20:26
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    Also, evil exists only in the eye of the beholder. As I wrote, he needs help just as well as she does (only of a different kind). "Physically beating someone over and over without doing anything to fix it [..]": he probably isn't even aware of his actions, and if he is, he probably thinks she deserves the treatment, on way or the other (and that's what needs to be fixed, mind you). Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 20:28

Do not allow your mother to be hit anymore. Call 911 immediately. Intervene if you can safely stop the abuse. If you have a camera (smartphone) and are afraid to intervene record the incident. Do not leave the scene because the police will arrive even if he leaves or takes her with him record his license plate. The police will give you two options. Your mother will be advised to press charges. Which she will likely not and it will drop from there. Or if the abuse is clear like you say and she is visibly hurt or crying uncontrollably. Then the police have the right to press charges on behalf of the state. If your father finds out you are trying to capture him he may change his behavior temporarily to avoid trouble or imprisonment or may even act like nothing happened when the police arrive. Trying to persuading the police people can be very convincing or they can outright disregard the law because of loopholes or abuse of power. But I know from personal experience regardless of what the media has portrayed the officers will seek an immediate arrest. If he is manipulative you will have to abide by the law if you want him arrested for sure. Let go of this sense of "care" for him. He will be alright. He will not be beaten by the police. But he will spend time in jail or prison. I have found and know police are very rational and respectful in the case of physical violence. This is not a casual offense or matter that will resolve itself.


What your mum is experiencing is domestic violence,Often the person being abused can not see a life without there attacker and become immobilized to take any action, such as leaving the abuser but with counselling and help they can slowly gain the courage they need to leave.

They lack self confidence and often tell themselves the attack was there own fault or make excuses for the other persons behavior .This is very similar to Stockholm syndrome and it is now being recognised in many more different forms of abuse because of the way the victim relates to there aggressor.

Before you can help your mum I would suggest reading up on victim mentality because she needs help in this area which may give her things to identify her situation.It takes a lot of building up her self esteem and you will need help to be able to do that

if you read the case studies or even go to a counselor yourself you might find way to get through to her but doing this without help will be extremely difficult due to the fact you are trying to break ingrained conditioning that has been formed over a lengthy time that she has been abused for, so the best advice i can give is speak to a counselor who deals with victims of domestic violence

The things you father says to her when you stand up to him is about control.For a person that is in this situation it is not so easy to just leave because they have been mentally conditioned and feel no self worth and normally can not imagine life any other way.Of course what i am saying is just a few types of case studies this is a very complex situation and you most definitely do need help to get through to her.

I sat many years ago learning about this same subject with women who were trying to learn so they could leave there husbands and no longer suffer at there hands.It is difficult and comes with a lot of worry so I can relate to how worried this makes you

I hope that the advice helps even a little but it is the best advice i can give you.I also think the counseling will help you because you are also a victim in this as a child growing up and watching it happen so i do think counseling will help you as well


I really hope that situation got better with this time. If you are still searching for ideas, here is my proposition (based on a fact that I'm also from the 3rd world country, and had related problems in my family before)

Based on fact, that your mother doesn't want to completely leave you father you can try to do step by step (she still will be in a danger, but this option is if no other worked)

Invite her to visit you for a short time. 3 weeks is the best. 2 doesn't worth paying for the ticket, she may not want to leave him alone for 4 weeks, because love feelings - this can be an explanation for your parents. When she is out of her living system you can slowly show her the difference. I'd suggest at the 2nd part of vacation. Small soft conversation about how it would be great to live together for long time, how she important to you and you still need her. While talking about father do not qualify him as a world evil, but focus on damage that had been done to you, how it made you feel and what are the circumstances. You are still her child, and this way you are not the attacker, and she has to protect her love. But you are the one who suffered, so you can speak equally. Mother instincts always exist. It has to be done in a calm, safe environment so she can at least listen to your worlds. When she comes back home, she'll at least know that there something more than the life like that. And the idea will grow in her mind stronger with your love and support.

I couldn't post it as a comment.


Your father is an evil person. There is no hope for losers like him. Do not pay this scumbag anything. You already lost a lot because of him. As suggested, get help from a domestic helpline or even the cops. The ones in developed countries are usually helpful.

Its highly likely that your mom suffers from Stockholm syndrome - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome. But you also need to find out why she wants to stick with him. Is she deluded that she can still change him, which she obviously cannot ? Does she depend on him financially and does not want you to bear her expenses in any way ? As an aside, if you don't mind, I'd like to know if your dad is a deadbeat or alcoholic/drug abuser.

Its good that you got away from this mess. But you have to find a reliable way to take care of yourself emotionally and financially. Its a lot for most 18 year olds. How are you taking care of money ?

  • I am not 18 any more, that was 5 years ago, but I got by. I am stable now, at least financially. I think it's more of a deluded sense of love, not stockholm syndrome, that keep my mother with my father. My father has never drugs (at least not that I know of) and doesn't have drinking problem. He doesn't work - very often steals the money from my mother so I guess he is a deadbeat. Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 10:57
  • I already bear some of her expenses. I take care of her rent and rations, I send her money every month (she being in a third world country with very low cost of living and me in a first world helps a lot) - she doesn't depend on him financially. It's actually the other way around. She works as a tailor at home, sewing up clothes and correcting measurements and that sort of petty things for the neighbourhood. Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 11:00
  • @gone-tomorrow I think the stockholm syndrome is exactly that: a deluded sense of love! Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 10:05

Young Lady: I saw the same thing when I was a child, the only difference was that I would not interfere when the old man was beating her up. He was usually drunk when the attacks would take place. She just never knew when to shut up her big mouth. She would pervoke him to the point where he would start to beat her up. I mean the standing on her neck crap. You need to get your mother out of that situation, he may just end up killing her. Not intentionally but none the less dead. Then you would not have your mother at all. She is not thinking clearly as she would not take the beatings like a wipped dog. So you need to get her out. Then both of you start life again else where never going back to him. He and you have had no relationship so no loss there. Your mother and you both need to get professional help once out of this horrible situation. You say that she loves him, she needs to know that this is not love but a feeling of failure. Many people can comment on this family situation but until you take the stand to do something you may be burying her instead.


In addition to the above advice. You always need to protect your mother since you know this is happening. You don't know the fear she feels because you are on the outside looking in and I feel that this happened because she stepped in to save you on several occasions from his controlling ways and anger. You may feel immediately remorseful and scared but be vigilante. If he has been abusing her likely when he is released from jail or prison he will be back to harming her because this type of abuse will occur again because she is afraid to call the police. He will immediately seek revenge because his life will be ruined as it should be. I know this is what you are the most afraid about. A mandatory restraining order should be put into place by the court system. But that won't scare him away if he's as bad as you say he is. If he comes back to apologize do not allow it. Call the Police again and he will be immediately arrested if found on the premises. Stay away from him in public as well. Do not allow him to persuade you or convince you that things have changed or get yourself arrested from assault (like I said earlier he may be very manipulative). Trust your gut feeling. You can also report anonymously to your local police department through a "crime prevention" or "crime stoppers" line. If you need internet access go to your public library. If you need to report anonymously and are afraid of being labeled make an excuse such as work or school and leave. I know how fear can control you but be strong.


You can't help a person who is not ready to be helped. First of all, your mom needs to understand that how much ever she loves him, still she should not endure his abuse.

Talk to your mom. Dont force your opinion.on her and try to understand why she doesn't want to leave him when she is being abused. Try to make her understand what if your partner beats u, would she be okay with it or will ask u to escape an abusive relationship.

Tell her it hurts you, to see her in pain and this is not the life u want her to lead.

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