Watching someone you care about go through a problematic relationship is never easy.
They hurt, so you hurt as well.
But where do you draw the line between helping your loved one and keeping your distance?
This was the concern that brought Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Educational-Cup-6301 to the “Am I the A**hole”(AITA) subReddit for guidance.
“AITA for using the Bible against my girlfriend’s abusive mother?”
First, he described the players.
“My (24-Male) girlfriend (20-Female) has a mother (56F) who is overbearing, controlling, and the very definition of a helicopter mother.”
Then stated the problem.
“She will verbally abuse her, tell her what a disappointment she is, condescend to her, and call her all kinds of names.”
“My girlfriend has ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome (yes, I know it’s not a ‘thing’ anymore but that’s how she was diagnosed by her doctor originally).”
“So these words can be incredibly hurtful, cause her severe depression, and just put her in a bad place thinking the worst of herself.”
“After gaslighting her to the point where she lashes out, her mother will then sweetly say, ‘Ephesians 6:2 Honor your father and mother so you may live a long and healthy life.’ “
“She then acts all innocent, only looking out for her child’s best intentions, and how dare she raise her voice at her mother.”
“She was raised better than that. She needs to go confess this sin against God.”
“She pulls this enough that I can quote it verbatim.”
OP decided to lend his girlfriend (GF) a hand.
“The last time she pulled that, I told my girlfriend that next time her mother says that, to suggest she pick up the Bible and read the next verse.”
“Ephesians 4 (3 is actually included as part of the quote above), depending on the translation, reads, ‘Parents, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the teachings of the Lord.’ “
OP’s girlfriend reached her breaking point.
“Well, last night, after she got my girlfriend upset enough to yell back, she broke out her favorite Bible verse, and my girlfriend countered with that and told her mother to go confess her sin against God.”
This seemed like a fantastic idea until…
“My girlfriend has been barred from leaving the house, her car keys, cell phone, and all other privileges have been taken away, and suffice to say her mother has still not come down from the crazy angry mood she’s been in.”
OP had an inside man.
“Her brother texted me on the sly to let me know what’s going on.”
The mother knew who had been influencing her daughter.
“She sent me a nasty message to stay away from her daughter and stop filling her head with these ludicrous interpretations of the Bible and I should be ashamed of myself using scripture to attack her. (Hello, pot? This is kettle.)”
“How she raises her daughter is her own choice and none of my business.”
OP’s own parents cautioned him on the matter…
“My parents say that I was wrong to overstep my bounds because it’s not my family.”
“Her brother is totally on my side and said he had to bite his lip when she said it to stop from laughing.”
Unsure of whether he’d done the right thing, OP brought his concern to Reddit for some clarity.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some were very direct.
“She will never be free. Unless she gets out.”~electric29
Others suggested more constructive ways of helping.
“I mean, you’re NTA, but since she’s a legal adult, I think there may be more effective ways of helping her.”
“(like looking into local resources that would help her move away from her abusive situation/looking for local legal advice/helping her get access to her ID documents/etc and storing them somewhere safe).”
“It seems like while you’re morally in the clear, you may have inadvertently put her into a more dangerous situation with your advice.”
“If you’re serious about helping your girlfriend, then you need to help her GET OUT, not just give her verses to show her mother what a hypocrite she is.”~UnnecessaryDairy
Others pointed out that GF is an adult.
“At this point, I’d contact police as well, if that’s safe for you. You can’t restrict a legal adult to her home like that. It’s a crime of False Imprisonment.”
“She wants to raise her daughter? She’s 20. The grounding part of it is done. This is the stage where you can give advice but other than that, you let them succeed or fail on their own.”~23skiddsy
“NTA But I would personally contact the cops.”
“It’s illegal to steal a person’s car keys, phone and not allow them to leave the house.”
“And her daughter is an adult. She is raised. And her being your girlfriend, yeah, it’s your business. You didn’t overstep at all. I would have stepped further.”
“I knew a mom like that. I moved her daughter out, who now lives with roommates going to college. That mom considers me enemy #1 now.”~Thyumos
Someone pointed out how precarious GF’s position might really be.
“The only thing that should be looked out for with this idea is if the mother holds an adult guardianship/conservatorship over the daughter.”
“I am sure everybody has been hearing of the Brittany Spears case, but it does happen with abusive parents.”
“Somebody is neurodivergent but still has the ability to be fully functional with the proper care, and instead of facilitating that care the parent seeks to get total control over the child, often complete with a nice little check that the parent controls.”
“Once the child realizes they can make something of themselves or have a life outside of the abusive home, they have to be confronted with the bleak fact that they are under the thumb of the abusive parent and can’t even leave the house without their parents having the ability to call the cops and bring them right back.”
“They can also legally forbid certain people from having access to the party if the conservator deems them a ‘threat’ to the ward.”
“The guardian controls the finances, and can legally pull the ward out of college if they are in it. They can also keep the ward from finding work if they put up enough fuss.”
“This protocol was put in place to protect the vulnerable, but in the wrong hands it can be twisted to do the polar opposite.”
“It sounds crazy, yes, but this can ruin a person’s life and future, especially if it is pursued young when the child can be easily conditioned to behave a certain way.”
“It is also very, very difficult to remove, especially if the conservator is corrupt and wants to keep that control.”
“When somebody corrupt gets that type of power, they can ruin lives by withholding human rights…”~SubstantialDrawing7
When you witness a loved one being harmed, there is a temptation to be spiteful.
It can feel really good in the moment, but remember that sometimes it’s better to help in more permanent ways.
We can only hope that OP and his girlfriend find the sort of long term assistance they need.