Our relationships counsellor answers your problems: He is poisoning our daughter against us

  • READ MORE: My abusive father destroyed my family 

Q I am very anxious and can’t stop crying after an argument with my daughter a couple of weeks ago. She had been living at our family home with her four-year-old son after the father, an abusive heavy drinker, disappeared abroad. 

She has been a brilliant mum and amazing provider, working long hours to support them both. However, a few months ago she met a new man who initially seemed very charming. But then the cracks began to show. 

My husband and I started to notice he was often very critical of her. I also discovered he was making her pay all the bills in spite of claiming he was very successful. Then they asked us to help them with a large deposit for a house. 

When we hesitated, the boyfriend said they couldn’t afford to rent their flat any more – and they moved more than an hour away to the middle of nowhere. My daughter has quit her job and stopped seeing her friends. We visited her and were shocked by the state of their rented house. 

An anonymous woman has revealed that she is concerned about her daughter’s relationship. She told Caroline West-Meades how her daughter has become isolated from her friends and family

I didn’t say anything in front of her boyfriend but rang the next day, when he was out, to say that she should be living somewhere nicer, nearer us, and that he was not right for her. 

She screamed that we had ruined everything by not offering help with money and that her boyfriend said it meant that we didn’t really care about her. I’m devastated, but I worry about getting involved. 

A Unfortunately, I suspect, like you, that things are not right – in fact, there are indications that her boyfriend could be worryingly controlling. Moving her away from you to a remote location is a classic sign, as abusive or controlling men often try to isolate the woman from friends and family, undermining her confidence and making her more dependent. 

This makes it harder for her to leave or to realise that this control is not part of a normal relationship. She has already stopped working and seeing her friends and now he is poisoning her against you. 

It is a difficult balance between stepping in and holding back at the same time. Urging someone directly to leave a partner who is controlling often doesn’t work because they are scared. 

So, for now, just keep texting her and telling her how much you love her and want to see her. Be careful not to criticise the boyfriend or her new life at the moment, just ask if she is OK. 

But it is very important that you also contact Women’s Aid (womensaid.org.uk) or Refuge (refuge.org.uk) for advice on how to help someone leave an abusive relationship. 

There is a child involved, so you need their expert guidance in how to support your daughter and make sure that she and your grandson are safe. I would strongly suggest also that you see your GP about your own anxiety and possible depression. 


I am exasperated with my wife but feel sorry for her at the same time. We have been married 28 years and up until about three years ago we had a good marriage. In some ways, we still do – but she is clearly struggling with the menopause. 

She is 54 and suffering from hot flushes that stop her sleeping, so she’s often bad-tempered and exhausted. Her anxiety is through the roof. However, she won’t consider HRT. How can I persuade her that she needs it? Would you take it? I miss my calm, lovely wife.

A It is always difficult when you can see a way forward, but the person concerned won’t help themselves. HRT isn’t suitable for all women but, when it is, it can be transformational. (And yes, personally I find HRT very beneficial.) I suspect that your wife’s reluctance may be rooted in fear – perhaps she has always been mistrustful of medication, preferring to ‘soldier through’. 

Or are you tackling her at the wrong time – for instance, when she is emotional or grumpy? It can be easy in such situations to let your exasperation show, and if you push too hard, she may dig her heels in more. 

Instead, tell her gently that you are upset by her suffering. Would your wife talk to her doctor or consider a consultation with an expert at menopausesupport.co.uk? There is a fee but your wife could talk through her symptoms and discuss HRT – as well as other alternatives. 

She can also find up-to-date information about treatment options at menopausematters.co.uk. Hopefully, it will enable her to gain control and restore her equilibrium, as well as yours.

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