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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5839
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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How do I reunite with my estranged adult daughter? She is 27

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How do I reunite with my estranged adult daughter? She is 27 and has been living with her (controlling) boyfriend for the last 4 years and there has been no contact from what was once a pretty close mother /daughter relationship. After she moved in with him, about 6 months later her calls became less and less frequent and then there was a complete cut-off. No fight or other reason for the cut-off. What's going on with what was my otherwise smart, decent and capable daughter? This is not how she was raised.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your daughter might be in an abusive relationship. The constant moving, cutting off close family and your daughter's reaction when seeing you all could be attributed to abuse. Also, the man she is with shows little interest in meeting you and establishing a relationship. He also does not reach out for help concerning your daughter's lack of contact with you or others in her life. That says that this may not be of her doing but his. He does not want her to be with others and have relationships she can use to help her out of the situation.

Since your daughter is an adult, there is not much you can do to control her behavior. But you can try to help her by learning what you can about domestic abuse. If what you learn does sound like what you are seeing with your daughter, you can try to suggest it to her next time you are able to see her. You can also provide phone numbers and on line sites that she can use to help herself, when she is ready.

Here are some links and other resources to help you: give her this site and the phone number and suggest she call anytime she needs to

Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft

Finding Your Way Through Domestic Abuse: A Guide to Physical, Emotional, And Spiritual Healing by Connie Fourre

No Visible Wounds: Identifying Non-Physical Abuse of Women by Their Men by Mary ***** *****

If you can find her again, see if you can provide her with the above information. Tell her to call you anytime she needs help. She can seek help from the police, hotline and shelters if she needs to. And they will keep her safe. She just has to want to get help for this to work. Convincing her of that will be hard since her boyfriend has had control over her for a while now, but all it takes is a small desire on her part to want to leave to change the whole situation.

You can also contact the local authorities to find out what you can do to get her out of there. They may not be able to help much, but they could keep an eye out for her, especially if the neighbors are willing to call if they see anything.

Let me know if I can help any further,


Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hi and Thank you for what info you have sent. I wanted to make clear that her boyfriend is being transferred with his job and that is why they are moving so much. True, there is no effort on his part to connect with me or to include her family(me) in any of their life. Also, he has told my d. that they are on the "20 year plan" to see if they will get married. My d. acted like this was OK with her, but I doubt that very much. Also, they are not interested in having children because he says " I don't want to be around anyone that is less intelligent than me." ( According to my d.) She gave me a few glimpses into some of the things he has said to her that day I found her and I was shocked. She has no healh insurance, he won't help her get any where he works(he's an engineer with Caterpillar, so big money) he has 2 BMW's and she still drives an old beat up ford, they live in a fairly crappy apt., she works as a clerk in a dept. store.(she was an "A" studnt in college and very bright. I called her work the other day and instead of hanging up right away she talked for a very few minutes. I asked her if he was treating her well and she sd. yes.

I have asked her what is the reason for the estrangement and she cannot give me an answer....she just says "alot of stuff."

How does the abuser(which I do think he is) keep someone away like this and what triggers the woman to want to leave?

I believe he has promised her security with money, but he appears to be tight fisted and not someone who will display anything much in the way of security for her.

She lso told me that every Xmas he has flown home to be with his big family in So. Dakota and left her there alone. OMG!

But why does she not call me ---she could still reach out or keep some form of contact with me whe he is not around............this is the part I don't understand.

HOw is he controlling her so that she doesnt even feel like calling me? It almost feels like she has been abducted by him. Its almost like a complete take over of her body, mind and spirit. Is there only a little part of her left and that is what I finally broke thru to when I found her that day? Will the longer she's gone with him mean it will be that much harder to get her back?These are the things that I worry about also.If there is emotional abuse is there also the physical abuse that will follow?
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Domestic abuse is very complicated in terms of the psychological impact. The abuser uses many tools to control his victim (it is usually men who are the abusers) including guilt, shame and intimidation.

It is hard to know what exactly happened to your daughter to cause her to fall under this man's control. But from your description, she is being abused at least emotionally if not physically. He has convinced her that leaving him would cause her pain somehow. He may have threatened her with death or her family with death if she leaves. Since he controls the finances and moves them a lot, she has little chance to escape or make connections with anyone who would convince her to escape.

Continue to try to connect with her. You are battling a psychological dominance that is hard to break. Think of it like what happens to people who are kidnapped and have the opportunity to leave but do not take the chance, such as Elizabeth Smart or Patty Hearst. The impact of psychological control is far reaching and difficult to understand. But it is very real.

Give your daughter the material I referred you to. Talking to her also helps, as much as you can. Tell her that if she left she would be safe. Provide a way for her to leave (offer money, etc) and offer her a ride home. Keep trying. If you can, convince her to contact the hotline so they may talk with her. They are trained to say what she needs to hear to break the control the boyfriend has over her.

The more you work with her and have others work with her, the better your chances of breaking through. Also, don't forget to contact the police, hotline and others for advice. These are the people trained to help someone in your daughter's position. Read the books as well. They will help you understand her situation and give you more tools to help her out.


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