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Behavioral Chart of Abuse in Mother—Daughter Relationships
Expecting daughters to endure lifelong abuse from their mothers is as damaging to women as expecting mothers to be perfect.
Possessiveness and Minimization & Blame
• Mother does not take responsibility for her actions • Says birth of daughter ruined her life
• Says daughter’s feelings are drama • Refuses to discuss or heal relationship issues
• Mother tells adult daughter how to think, dress & act • Condemns daughter for moving away or having a partner • Telephones excessively/demands details of daughter’s life • Accuses daughter of abandoning her if she has her own life • Sabotages daughter’s relationships with others or with family members
Humiliation • Puts down daughter’s lifestyle, partner choice, body size, looks • Humiliates daughter in front of people • Makes daughter feel guilty • Shares sensitive details of daughter’s childhood with others and ignores daughter’s requests for mother to cease doing so.
• Mother treats daughter like a baby, a puppet, property or servant • Has expectations daughter can never meet • Sets all the rules in the relationship • Allows a sibling to control family events • Expects daughter to host/clean up after all family events
Emotional Abuse • Mother gives daughter silent treatment/distances /shuns her • Labels daughter with psychological diagnoses • Tells daughter she was unwanted/should have been aborted • Is affectionate to family members but cold to daughter • Visits siblings, ignores daughter/daughter’s family • Omits daughter / daughter’s partner from family photo displays • Blatantly favors siblings.
Threats & Intimidation
• Speaks to daughter in a threatening tone • Threatens to disinherit • Yells and screams at
daughter • Tells daughter she will be left or returned to an abusive parent • Threatens suicide if daughter does not comply to demands • Says things like “I brought you into this world, I can take you out!”
Physical Abuse & Neglect
• Slapping, poking, pinching, shoving, kicking daughter • Throwing objects at daughter
• Pulling/aggressively brushing daughter’s hair • Withholding financial support or not providing shelter, food, medical care in daughter’s childhood/teen years.
• Mother shares intimate details of sex life with daughter in childhood/teenaged years • Has sexual behavior in front of daughter • Allows partners to flirt with, grab, sexually joke with, molest or rape daughter • Minimizes/questions/mocks sexual assaults of daughter when daughter tells • Condemns daughter’s sexual orientation, gender identity, dating partners, dating behavior
Unlike intimate partnerships between two adults, mother and daughter relationships originate from unequal power. No mother has the right to use that power to abuse her daughter.
Work Cited: Core concepts have been inspired by and modified from the “Power & Control and Equality Wheels” developed by Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Duluth, MN: www.duluthmodel.org. Category titles, except Sex-Related Abuse and Emotional Abuse, are directly quoted from the Wheel.