Hello Interpersonal Stack Exchange,

About two weeks ago I posted the question "How do I help my girlfriend defend herself against manipulative parents?". I recommend reading that one first as it contains some preliminary info that ties into this post.

I believe that it's necessary to start a new question because I did leave out some info on my first post and the situation has also gotten much worse.

PS: I know it's quite the lengthy post but all the information is necessary and I've tried my best to shorten it down as much as possible.

PPS: It could be said that maybe the internet isn't the best place to look for help in a situation like this, but just know I'm trying other sources of help as well and my hope with this post is for it to spread so we can get as much help as possible.

Background - Pt. 2 [Trigger Warning]

In my first post there were a few things that I failed to mention that I am mentioning now since they are of more relevance in this question.

The first being a history of sexual abuse.

In her lifetime there has been multiple occurrences of sexual abuse/molestation ranging from when she was six to just recently.

There are two main occasions I want to talk about here:

First Occasion

She was six or seven at a friends house and there was a period of time where her friend was using the bathroom and the dad tried to rape her. What makes this case difficult is that the man that did this was a well known judge in her home country.

Second Occasion

A boy in her school has been trying (sometimes successful) to molest her during a class that they shared. That went on for the last school year and I hope it won't happen again (I don't think they share classes anymore).

The second being a history of self-harm.

I believe this started mostly because of the sexual abuse history and how it affected her but I also believe it's also partly due to the derogatory remarks and additional emotional abuse she receives from her parents.

  • In the past she has caused harmed herself by burning or cutting herself but no longer does these things.
  • The last time she cut herself was on her thighs around 3 months ago. It was another time where her parents were giving her a really hard time. She showed me and we did a lot of talking went on about why she does it and how she can stop and I still try to help her with it.
  • When her parents found out about it their reaction was not helpful. Her mom told her she was crazy and asked her if she was planning on cutting her siblings too. Her dad got extremely upset and asked her if she was also doing drugs while proceeding to seize all of her makeup and rummage through her personal belongings on a mad witch hunt for drugs.

Some Context

Around the second month we were dating, I got into vaping for various stupid reasons. I used to bring it sometimes when I would come over and would use it when we would walk around the lake near her house.

There are a couple points I want to bring up about this:

  • I was into vaping for about three weeks before I decided that I hated it more than I liked it and eventually planned to sell the vape pen.

  • I used nicotine free e-liquid.

  • She had tried a puff once and didn't like it at all.

  • I accidentally left it at her house the last time I used it. She found it, told me, and was going to give it back to me the next weekend when I came over. However we kept forgetting and one week I just told her to get rid of it, but she apparently didn't since she felt bad and knew I was going to sell it. We forgot about it up until this point (it was hidden in one of her bags).

The Problem(s)

So today the plan was for me to come over and hang out with her for a few hours since it's the last day of her summer. Unfortunately, her mom somehow found the vape pen we had forgotten about so long ago and freaked out while proceeding to tell her father and uncle. This situation is very bad, especially with the drug talk from earlier.

So basically, we ended up not hanging out and she has been asking me for help and updating me up until now.

Let me tell you how they've retaliated...

  • They've emptied her bank account and transferred all funds to her mother (as far as I know all future direct deposits will also be taken from her not long after they drop).

  • They will take all of her personal belongings at the end of tonight and I am not sure when or if she'll get them back. (She might get her phone back)

  • Her dad told her–today–she had three strikes but that she's already used two of them. This and apparently the first is from when she cut her leg (his reasoning behind this strike is he thinks she was just wanting attention, which is a pretty f'ed up mindset if you ask me). If she strikes out again, apparently they will then move somewhere else (in or out of country). Honestly her parents hate it here and will look for any excuse to move out of the country.

  • They told her that no matter what she will have to attend college in her home country. She doesn't want this. She has signed up for multiple scholarship programs and wants to attend college and start her life here.

Best case scenario, her family is staying in the country for two more years. She has told me she doesn't want to leave with them and has told me she would like to move in with me when her family leaves. She'll be 19 at the time so there shouldn't really be any issues with that.

My Question

How do we properly inform her parents that she 1) will not be leaving with them, 2) will not be attending college in her home country, and 3) will be moving in with me when they leave?*

*I have a bad feeling things will not go well when this subject is brought up and am wondering if legal help will be needed since, although she will be 18+, I have a feeling that they will still try to assert their dominance over her.

Additional Notes

Let me also clarify that her parents know about both instances of sexual abuse and have done almost nothing about them.

I've tried following community guidelines to my best ability, but I'm sure I could have messed up somewhere. Feel free to let me know and I'd be happy to fix!

  • 10
    Please bear in mind that your emotional health is at risk in all this. Some people's lives are just all drama, sad as it is, and by volunteering to rescue her you are putting yourself in danger and depriving yourself of the opportunity of meeting someone who will have a positive impact for your happiness and your future. Wouldn't you rather start clean and meet a nice gal whom you can have good times with, get married to and have a family with?
    – Duke Leto
    Aug 13, 2018 at 5:34
  • 12
    @DukeLeto Over the course of this relationship I have weighed out the worth of it all and determined that I am willing to stay. Not only does she make me really happy but I also do believe in a future with her. I have also made many great memories with her. She is a great person. I am not depressed and nor am I letting the stress get to me. My main concern is helping her. She is not the cause of the problem. I believe if she can get some space from her parents and can also get her some professional help, things will get a lot better.
    – ZYR
    Aug 13, 2018 at 6:17
  • 4
    Depending on the state you're in, your girlfriend may be able to move already (unless laws have changed semi-recently). My girlfriend moved in with me the day she turned 17 because of similar, though not quite so severe, issues. We've now been together for 10+ years :) also, you can set up a bank account in your name along with your girlfriend's name and she can have her money direct-deposited there (again, from personal experience, this is what I did)
    – user20896
    Aug 13, 2018 at 13:13
  • 2
    On the other post you say that your girlfriend "is 17". Here you say she is "18+". Which is it? The difference is very important in the U.S. Aug 13, 2018 at 15:17
  • 1
    I'm going to close this question as off-topic because this goes beyond the realm of Interpersonal Skills, it will require more help than we can provide. Your girlfriend is a minor in an abusive situation, please get her help now rather than waiting until she's legally an adult. Not doing so is likely to put her in danger if she doesn't have contact with an adult with appropriate authority to help her (e.g. CPS person or lawyer).
    – Tinkeringbell
    Aug 13, 2018 at 17:56

3 Answers 3


How do we properly inform her parents that she 1) will not be leaving with them, 2) will not be attending college in her home country, and 3) will be moving in with me when they leave?*

You do not. You're dealing with abusive people with full power over her. Do not do this until you are absolutely sure they cannot force her to do anything she doesn't want, like taking her back to her country of birth. No interpersonal skills can help you at this point.

Trying to deal with these people is a danger to your girlfriend. The only interpersonal skill you can use here is: know when to use interpersonal skills and when not to.

Your first step is to get her to safety. Remove their power over her. Start with calling Child Welfare at 1.800.422.4453. They can offer you advice on how to deal with the situation.


From an IPS perspective I don't see any way you could change the way her family treats her.

This sounds like a clear case for child-welfare / youth protection / whatever it's called in the US. Draining a bank account leaves clear and objective evidence and creates a strong dependence on her parents. Add the sexual abuse and evidence of self-harm and she should get some kind of help there.

She also has to persue professional psychological help, preferably as an inpatient to get away from her parents. This may sound harsh, but telling a medical professional that you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide hopefully gets things in motion very fast.

This is not a "maybe you'd like to think about getting help" situation, she absolutely needs professional help, and soon! And she needs to break any contact with her family as soon as possible. For that, she needs someone to lean on, so please don't abandon her now.

  • Agreed, I doubt the way they treat her will ever change significantly. How would we go about breaking contact from her family if she isn't the legal adult age yet? I agree about the professional psychological help, but how would I go about getting that for her right now as well? Unfortunately, I don't have much power over her parents in this situation. Also, in that second statement.. are you referring to a service like DCF?
    – ZYR
    Aug 13, 2018 at 6:27
  • 3
    I don't know enough about the US child and youth protection system to give you more information, but my understanding is that if the parents pose a threat to their child, the child has a right to get help and be seperated from said threat even before reaching legal age. Get all the evidence you can and let the system do its work.
    – Elmy
    Aug 13, 2018 at 6:33
  • Okay, I will look more into this. Thank you.
    – ZYR
    Aug 13, 2018 at 12:46
  • 1
    @ZYR In the US, she could get emancipated
    – cheshire
    Aug 13, 2018 at 16:50

Your GF needs legal advice even if she doesn't think she can beat her parents in court. At minimum she needs to know how her visa works and what her options actually are in this situation. A commonly accepted wisdom in decision making is that you can only make the best decision if it's in your list of options to consider in the first place.

Lawyer up, it's time. Ask every firm or lawyer you contact if they can help you for free since you can't pay. It might take a bit, but you'd be shocked at what you find.

As far as IPS is concerned, your GF seems to have a problem enforcing her boundaries with her parents. The first step to correcting that is to get her ability to collect money back. The second would be to get her other money back as well.

  • @ZYR good point, you might find one who has been through similar and would do it pro bono. Also check local charities and see if they have access to legal advice that is specialist in this topic. They sound like toxic parents; sometimes you just have to walk away #beenthere. May 28, 2019 at 7:52

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