I have three grown-up daughters and I’m very worried about the middle one. The eldest and youngest don’t put up with any nonsense but my middle daughter has always been quite shy and naive.
When she was 18, she met this guy, who was 34 and married.
He left his wife and two young kids for my daughter, which my husband and I weren’t happy about but he was very charming and swept us all off our feet.
From the start, my daughter adapted to fit his life. She lost touch with all her school friends and his friends became her friends.
She moved into his house and she dyed her hair blonder because that’s how he liked it and she lost weight.
When she became pregnant with their two children he made comments about her weight and after giving birth he’d put her down for not losing the weight quickly enough.
A couple of years ago she turned up at our house at midnight with the kids because they’d had a huge fight and he’d slapped her. My husband and I were furious and wanted to go round there, but she begged us not to.
Since then, I’m convinced it’s happened again but she says it hasn’t. She’s become even quieter than usual, very withdrawn and I’ve noticed bruises on her arms and the odd faded black eye. I’ve begged her to tell me what’s going on but she won’t. What can I do?
I can’t think of anything worse and if this was my daughter, I would want to go round there and kill him.
However, you have to tread carefully because men who abuse their partners are well known for alienating them from their loved ones, so make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
I think you’ve got to keep the lines of communication open without sounding like you’re trying to force her into a decision that she’s clearly not ready to make.
Just keep saying, “If ever you’re in trouble then I am at the end of the phone. You can come here day or night, any time, and we won’t judge
you or force you to leave him. We will just be here for you.”
At the same time, build up the self-esteem that he’s probably driven out of her.
Constantly tell her that she’s a great mum, she is beautiful, kind and strong and that she deserves a happy life.
If she confides in you again, you could also gently suggest she chat to her GP, or speak to someone like the domestic violence charity Refuge (refuge.org.uk).
More of our agony aunt Coleen Nolan’s advice on your sex, family, health and relationship problems