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How Can I Help My Boyfriend Whose Parents Neglected & Emotionally Abused Him His Entire Life?

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I have been in a relationship with Steven for over a year now, and he is only beginning to open up about his parents. He is 17, and lives with his parents currently, and they come from a very low income family. When I go over to his house, his father is always drunk, yelling at the tv or his granddaughter in profane language. His mother has never shown an ounce of intrest in him when im there, and has not even bothered to enroll him back into highschool after he was expelled when a student attacked him. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADHD, and was on pills for sometime, but his parents took him off for some reason…..They dont have health insurance for him, and he hasn’t been to a doctor in over 2 years. It has gotten to the point where he is going to ask his grandmother if she can take him to the doctor. He also has this randomly recurring, excruciating pain in his ribs every so often,lasting anywhere from a minute to several hours. since he was a child and no doctor could diagnose it. i think it may be all the extreme stress…He went through tremendous physical abuse at a younger age, and constant moving from home to home. I want to help him get past this and heal his emotional wounds so he can make a great life for himself. Last night he was going through a really rough time, and actually scared me with what he expressed about his feelings. He has no other family members, in town, other than his two adult sisters that moved into an apartment together 10 minutes away…. however he cannot stay there because they recently had a baby and the boyfriend is living with them. his parents continuously put him down and tell him how worthless he is, and how they’re kicking him out the second he turns 18. He says he just wants parents who ask how you’re feeling, say i love you and how your day was… but he has never had that. he comes home to drinking and smoking and screaming.
This past week he has started his first job, working for a contracting company doing under the table work like hanging dry wall and packing mud, he is really exited to be making money and i want to help him figure out a savings plan so he can move out when he turns 18. im sorry this is so long, i just wanted to tell you the whole situation, and i just want someone to give me some advise on how to help him move on from his parents and love himself. It tears me apart to see him go through this, and know this is all hes ever known.

How Can I Help My Boyfriend Whose Parents Neglected & Emotionally Abused Him His Entire Life?

Answered by on -


It is a very tough situation for your boyfriend. Hopefully, once he leaves his home he will find a safe place to live where he can begin to establish his life. It’s going to be difficult to live independently, especially if he never graduates high school. There are many fewer employment opportunities for people without high school diplomas. You can support him in earning his GED and with any luck, he’ll make enough money to live independently.

I want to caution you against thinking that you can help your boyfriend more than you can. You can’t heal his psychological pain. You’re not his therapist and it is not your responsibility to “fix him.” Obviously, you want to help but there are limits. You can support him but you cannot fix his problems.

He should consult a mental health professional. Mental health professionals treat psychological problems. They could also help him out of his terrible living situation. Local community mental health centers offer low cost or free services.

He might also contact a school counselor. He has been expelled but he or she could still help. Another option is contacting the local child welfare agency. He is a minor living with parents who seem to be neglecting him. The Florida abuse and neglect hotline is 1-800-962-2873. They can provide assistance.

The best you can do is offer your support and encourage his efforts to move out, find a job and to seek psychological help. That is all you can do but it is enough. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

How Can I Help My Boyfriend Whose Parents Neglected & Emotionally Abused Him His Entire Life?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). How Can I Help My Boyfriend Whose Parents Neglected & Emotionally Abused Him His Entire Life?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 12 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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