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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My husband verbally abuses his overweight daughter.

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My husband has 2 daughters. One is 11, the other 13. Their Mom died 4 years ago of cancer after 3 years of struggle. I have been their step-mom for 1- 1/2 years. The 13 year old is overweight. She is 5'6" and weighs 202. She also has problems such as lying alot, stealing, and sneaking. I have worked with her on these issues and they have improved dramatically. But her weight continues to increase. She has went from 174 to 202 in the last 2 years. She sneaks and eats food. Hides it around the house. Once, we had 5 cheeseburgers left over from a cook-out and she snuck in the fridge ate all 5 in one day. For New Years we bought a cheesecake. We each had 1 tiny sliver. The next morning, I couldn't find the cheesecake. She had snuck and ate the entire thing. I struggle with my weight too, as does her father. It's hard to set a good example when we ourselves keep trying and failing at losing or maintaning weight. But I am very concerned at how my husband goes about dealing with his daughters weight. He criticizes her. Sometimes he gets angry and yells at her. I have seen him call her a fat pig or a whale. He tells her she is going to get diabetes or cancer like her Mom if she doesn't start eating healthier. He tells her no good decent man will want her, and she'll end up with some lazy crumb for a husband. Lately, because he read a news article about such cases, he has started telling her that Social Services is going to come and take her away and put her in a Foster Home. Sometimes he makes her stand in front of a mirror and tells her "look at yourself! You're fat! You're a fat slob! Look at your fat gut!"  And on a few occasions he has actually made her say out loud, "I'm fat." I have argued with him about this on several occasions. He refuses to listen. He tells me, "what am I supposed to do? She won't stop! She eats like a pig! She's going to get diabetes or cancer!" "I won't baby her or lie to her! She has to know the truth!" He said, "she's in in denial! She spends her time looking in the mirror at her face, packing on make-up, but she never looks below her neck!" He also criticizes her dead Mom to her. He says, "you learned this from your Mother! She was a fat pig too! She used to eat beef hoagies for breakfast, lunch and dinner! I kept telling her she was killing herself, but she wouldn't listen! Now she's dead! She got colon cancer from all of those beef hoagies! She taught you to lie and sneak and steal too! She was a liar! She's sneak and lie to me all the time! She hid food all over the damn house! I'd find boxes of tastycakes hidden everywhere! Your mother taught you this!" (Note: I suspect she did learn to overeat and hide food from her mom, as well as lie and hide things from dad. Her mom would, for example, buy ice cream, and tell them, "don't tell daddy!"). 




I am VERY worried he is damaging her psychologically. I do not know what to do. Thank you

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


It sounds like your husband is verbally abusing his daughter. If he is concerned with his daughter's weight, yelling at her and berating her is not going to help. He needs to either take a different approach or stop all together.


It seems that he is taking his insecurity out on his child. Only people who do not feel good about themselves abuse others. If your husband had a good self esteem, he would not need to put his daughter down and embarrass her. He could talk with her, let her know he is concerned about her health, then provide assistance to help her. He would work with her, not against her.


You have the power to help your step daughter. Tell your husband to stop abusing his daughter. He is hurting her deeply, making the situation much worse and he is damaging her psychologically. As a result of the abuse, she will learn better ways to hide her feelings and her addiction to eating. She will also continue to eat since eating seems to be where she finds comfort. She may take a long time to recover from the pain he is inflicting, or she may never recover. Emotional/verbal abuse is some of the worst abuse you can inflict on someone.


It is very important that your husband and/or you get your step daughter to a therapist. She needs to talk about how she is feeling and work on the abuse she has suffered. To find a therapist, contact your step daughter's doctor. Or you can search on line at


Your husband also needs help. He is an abuser. He needs to learn better ways to handle his own feelings and how to stop hurting others. If he does not stop his behavior, he is going to destroy his relationship with his daughter.


Also, learn what you can about emotional abuse. Help your step daughter learn as well. The more you both know, the easier it will be to cope. Here are some resources to help:


Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse by Ann McMurray and Gregory L. Ph.D. Ph.D. Jantz


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



Healing Your Emotional Self: A Powerful Program to Help You Raise Your Self-Esteem, Quiet Your Inner Critic, and Overcome Your Shame by Beverly Engel


I hope this has helped you,

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