Worth the Emotional Abuse?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

what to do? The past 15 years my mom has had a significant problem with alcohol. I raised my autistic brother and my younger sister from the time I was 8 up till I was 16. My mother kicked me out when I was 16 because I was starting to rebel and not wanting to take care of my brother and sister every day of my life. I immediately worked with FACS (Family & Childrens services) to work to have my brother and sister removed. I am now 22 and my brother and sister have just been removed this year after many cases being filed. My mother’s drinking over this past year has been getting worse. I have recently become engaged and my mother is ignoring my calls and texts. Should I work to try and repair this or is it worth the emotional abuse?

A. Never tolerate emotional abuse. If you are in a relationship where there is emotional abuse, that relationship should not continue. No relationship is worth tolerating abuse of any kind.

Having said that, since she is your mother in all likelihood you will continue to have some contact with her. A more appropriate question becomes, is it possible for her to have a functional relationship with you. In short, the answer is likely no, not at this time. For several reasons I don’t think it’s possible, at this time, to have a functional relationship with her. Currently, she is ignoring all of your calls and text messages. It is difficult to have a connection with someone who refuses to communicate.

Secondly, because of her serious alcohol problem she is incapable of having a healthy relationship. It is difficult to have a reasonable and logical conversation with someone who is mentally impaired due to intoxication. For all practical purposes, it’s impossible.

The fact that you would consider tolerating emotional abuse tells me that there is a need to learn a new and much healthier way to interact with your mother. You can learn these skills in two ways. One is psychotherapy and the other is attending Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon meetings (which are a part of Alcoholics Anonymous) are support groups for family members who are coping with the drinking problems of a loved one. The groups are free of charge and can provide a much needed support system. Here’s a link to their website, where you can learn more about how the meetings are run and where you would find one in your community. I would highly recommend that you consider attending those meetings.

Clcik the find help tab above to help locate a therapist in your community.

Lastly, I want to commend you on your resiliency and determination to help your siblings be placed in a safe living environment. You were raised in a home where you had no parental support or guidance. You were abused, neglected and forced to fend for yourself at a very young age. I can imagine how difficult that must have been for you and still is for your siblings. If you weren’t there to care for and love your siblings, their lives would have been much more difficult. I believe that your love, support and an unwavering determination to remove them from their abusive situation will prove pivotal in their lives. You may have saved them from further abuse. You should be very proud.

I wish you and your family the best of luck. Consider seeking therapy for additional help and support. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 May 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Worth the Emotional Abuse?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/05/31/worth-the-emotional-abuse/