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‘My daughter has been in a relationship with a horrible bully for more than eight years’

Tell Me About It: The relationship has ended over two years ago and he refuses to leave the house. He has taken over the main bedroom and it has become his den

This situation is causing huge stress to be placed on everyone but him.


My daughter has been in a relationship with a horrible bully for more than eight years. He is not the father of her school-going children.

The relationship has ended over two years ago and he refuses to leave the house. He has taken over the main bedroom and it has become his den – which leaves her sleeping on the couch or in the kids’ bedroom on a mattress. It is a council house of which he is a named tenant and she has informed the council she wants him removed, as the relationship has ended. Their response is they cannot remove him until they find alternative housing for him. This situation is causing huge stress on everyone but him.

He’s made himself very comfortable and contributes nothing to the household but ongoing stress and bullying.


There are many people who are living in versions of what you describe – where the cost of living crisis made it very difficult to separate. However, the added complication of relying on the council to remove your daughter’s partner makes the situation even more difficult. Citizen’s Information can provide you with advice on what may be possible, so it is worth consulting them if your daughter has not done so already. If she has then she may need to seek help in another forum. The situation she is in can be described as bullying, so she could seek support for addressing the relationship from this perspective – see Women’s Aid or Sonas. These services will be able to offer expertise and advice on how to approach the ending of a relationship where there is control or emotional and physical abuse.


If your daughter is to tackle getting her ex out of the family home, she will need lots of support and back up during the process and this is where you can contribute. She may be feeling very browbeaten from the bullying, and from trying to manage a family life in the face of such difficult circumstances, and so the first step is to let her know that you will support her whenever she wishes to take action. As your daughter already feels that her choices have been limited by another person (her ex) she does not need someone else taking charge of her life, so be patient in allowing her to choose her path both in terms of when, and how, she wants to take action.

She probably is suffering from lack of confidence, which is a common effect of living with bullying, and so any help you can provide to bolster her self-esteem will be welcome. One of the ways we can validate someone’s existence is to really listen to them and understand their experience. As a parent, you may feel you know what is best, as this was your role for many years, but now you are in an adult role with your daughter and your efforts need to be in really hearing what her life is like and allowing her to come to her own decisions about how to live it. She may not fully accept your support and advice at this time and your job will be to continue to bear witness and support her even when you disagree with her choices.

I thought I’d found love at work but he says I misunderstoodOpens in new window ]

If you think that the children are being affected by the bullying, then you may have to take a more active stance. You can contact the local child protection social work service Tusla if you have concerns about safety or neglect. The social workers will be able to offer you advice and direction if your concerns prove to be well founded and they may be able to lend extra support to getting the man out of the family home if there is evidence to support such a move. This situation has been going on a long time and there are many people affected and stressed by what is happening, including you. If you can demonstrate self-care to your daughter and show her that good decisions come from feeling rested and confident, she may also see a way towards finding the wherewithal to tackle what can feel like an insurmountable problem.

Self-care includes being willing to seek help and accepting support when it is needed. Offer to accompany your daughter to any appointments or offer to mind the children while she attends support services.

If you can show determination and steadfastness in your belief that this situation can be overcome, then she too may take some faith from you and take those essential steps outlined above.