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What Can We Do?

What Can We Do?

From: Rhonda

Sent: Friday, May 07, 1999 10:50 PM

Subject: Greetings

Hello Dr. Irene,

My name is Rhonda and I need help, and I hope that you can direct me in the right direction. I have a 50-something year old female cousin who is extremely co-dependent and depressed and in an emotionally and monetarily abusive relationship with a man who possibly has a criminal record (he is also a former psychiatrist who may have had his medical license taken away).  He is involved in many outlandish short-lived expensive businesses, and 'makes her' foot the bill for everything (while she works 3 jobs to support him & her).  He also sends her to a psychiatrist for 'therapy' (he also sometimes goes with her) and 'coincidentally' the doctor is also a good friend of his, which is probably unethical.  This man is very controlling of her, and he has his own mental imbalances (I have met him, he is narcissistic, belittling and overbearing).   They are living in the next state with him and I believe she is also abusing prescription medication. I am sure this has been going on for years.  Our whole extended family is worried about her, and she might end up harming herself.  We would all love to get her out of this situation, but I know it is her that should want to leave.   Would you happen to have any resources for families of abused women? 

I know that you are probably a very busy person, and I would appreciate any information that you could give me. 
Thank you very much!!!!!
Rhonda

Dear Rhonda,

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do. It takes two to tango, and the two are consenting adults. I realize your cousin is in a controlling, if not abusive, relationship - and she is possibly addicted to prescription drugs, but you have few options.

Unless your cousin is in great pain, she is unlikely to want things to change. She is the only one who can take the steps she needs to in order to transform her life. I don't know enough about your cousin to give you any referral advice.

But you and those who love her who are having difficulty with her lifestyle may want to go to an ALANON or CODA meeting (look them up on the web or your phone book). They can help you deal with your inability to help her. They can also help you recognize when your attempts to help are in fact enabling her situation.

Remember, there is only one person you can help - yourself.

Warmest regards,  Dr. Irene