Emily is a lower-class, single mother. She has a history of abusive boyfriends, including her most recent one, Chad.
Alex is presumed to be her only child and Alex's birth father either divorced Emily or abandoned her. Her daughter helps her clean her cuts, wounds, and other bruises.
Emily likes Alex's former-boyfriend-now-turned-friend Jay Hogart.
It is assumed that she is aware her daughter is a lesbian because in a deleted scene she and Alex talk about Paige together.
When Alex discovers that Emily used all of the money Alex had earned from her job at a strip club to bail Chad out of jail, she cuts her mother out of her life and leaves their home, never to return.