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How To Help

It's hard, seeing someone you love suffering through an abusive relationship with her mother, especially when there seems to be no good solution.   You can help your wife, friend or loved one.   You may not be able to fix her situation, but your love and support can give her strength.  And for her, knowing you care enough to want to help her will greatly encourage her.  Abuse victims often feel completely alone.  Your support can help her to feel less alone.

Learn to be a good listener.  She will need to get her feelings out sometimes, and if you can listen quietly without judging her, you will be a great help.

Be willing to listen silently.  Acknowledge you are listening however.   Eye contact or touching her hand help her to know you are listening.

Never pressure her to talk.  Sometimes when a woman is in this situation, she just needs to cry.   A hug may be the best thing you can do for her during this time.

Do not offer advice unless she asks for it.  Sometimes she just wants to talk, not look for a solution.   Besides, in these situations, sometimes there really is no good solution.

If you too have an abusive mother, do not compare your situations.   No matter how you mean it, sometimes comparisons make the other person feel like you are saying, "My situation is so much worse than yours! Stop your whining!"

Use wisdom with your words.   Avoid saying insensitive statements such as,

"I know how you feel"  (Really? You were there, being abused too?)

"She probably didn't mean it that way"   (But I'm her daughter- I think I know better how she meant that than you do!)

"She has problems- you can't blame her"  (So her problems nullify the abuse I lived through?)

"But that's your mother!"  (I know- which is why it hurts so much when she says and does this stuff!)

"That doesn't sound so bad."   (Maybe not to you, but you try having your mother say/do what mine did, then get back to me)

"Well if I were you, I would..."   (You don't know what you would do in this situation because you aren't me.)

Always remember to be supportive.  Look and listen for clues on what your loved one needs.  She may say she wants to be alone, but if you go to leave, and she suddenly starts rambling on, that is a clue she does not truly want to be alone.

Be encouraging.  When she says things never will change, remind her that they might.   When she says she cannot stand up to her mother (or set boundaries, etc.), build her up- tell her she is strong enough to do whatever she needs to do.  Remind her that you are praying for her.   Pray with her.

Offer to distract her sometimes.  Suggest going to the movies, out to lunch, shopping, a walk in the park.   If you are her husband, then offer her some romance.  Sweet romantic gestures from the heart can help her feel a thousand times better.   Those gestures need not be expensive- pick some flowers from your garden for her, present her with a special bubble bath or bottle of nail polish, give her a new book from her favorite author.   The point is to offer a distraction as well as a reminder that you were thinking of her.

If she needs time alone, respect that.  Distractions are great, but sometimes when you are dealing with an abusive mother, you need some time to yourself.  Time to cry, time to try to find a solution, or time to sit quietly and regroup after an especially trying visit with Mother.

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