Friend is Being Emotionally Abused

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

One of my very close friends is being emotionally abused by his mom. She is constantly degrading him, putting him down in private and in front of me and our other friends. Any time he lets on that her comments hurt him she tells him he’s “too sensitive, why is he acting like a 13 year old girl, etc.” She’s also extremely controlling and manipulative. The only times I’ve seen her do good things for him, she did it to hold over his head later and guilt him into doing what she wanted him to do. Everything I’ve seen from her fits the outline of abuse. My question is, what do we do now? Every time we’ve tried to talk to our friends and other family they seem to think we’re being melodramatic and that he should suck it up and respect his mom by staying and doing what she asks of him, but that’s what he’s been doing and it’s just been getting worse lately… I don’t think she would physically hurt him, but her words and actions towards him have been increasingly more destructive. Should he try to have a plan in case it gets to the point where he needs to leave one night, or are the people who say he needs to suck it up right?

A: It sounds like you’re a very good friend. It’s important to know that you caring about him at this level is the best possible thing you could do.

I strongly encourage both of you to talk to the school guidance counselor. The counselors are trained in helping students with exactly this kind of problem. Is a very good thing that he’s talking with you and that you care so deeply, but it sounds like it’s time to get a professional involved.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Apr 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Friend is Being Emotionally Abused. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/04/14/friend-is-being-emotionally-abused/