Talk

Advanced search

AIBU to ask bf to visit sibling and abusive partner?

(28 Posts)
susanstohelit123 Sat 30-May-20 13:56:43

For background, my brother is in an abusive and controlling relationship with a history of mental abuse and suspected physical. I won't go into details but he's admitted the extent of it to me previously and it's appalling.

He has two little boys with his partner but is rarely allowed to bring them to visit his side of the family. He has three siblings, including me, and unless we visit him we don't get to see him or our nephews.

When we do try to visit, nine out of ten times there's an excuse at the last minute and they'll cancel on us. When the rare visits do happen, we are welcomed in and his partner makes a big show of being chatty so the actual time spent at their house isn't awful, especially as our children get to mix and get to know their cousins.

The problem I'd like outside perspectives on is that my partner, for understandable reasons, absolutely hates my brother's partner and cannot understand why my brother allows her to treat him and the rest of his family as terribly as is the case (and without going into too much outing detail, it has been absolutely terrible).

So,when the rare occasion arises that we're invited round, I encounter resistance from him - he refuses to come and doesn't want our young children exposed to the toxicity of their household. He's making a stand and I do understand and largely agree with his reasons why.

But to maintain a relationship with my brother and nephews and to allow our children to know their cousins, I think it's important we make the effort to stay in touch and take up the rare invites. I fear if we don't, my brother and his children will be cut off and feel more isolated in the middle of an abusive situation.

In an ideal world, he'd flee the situation and seek help but he's not at that stage yet and I don't feel that we should turn our backs and wait until he gets there.

But my partner doesn't want to be around her at all and it's getting to the stage where I'm always having to make excuses for him not coming and it's getting very obvious to everyone that he simply doesn't like being there and won't come any more. It's awkward, uncomfortable and sad for me - the whole situation is really upsetting.

We've been invited round for a socially distanced garden visit on Wednesday and in order to bring the kids to see their cousins, I actually need him to come with me now as we have a newborn and a young toddler that I'll struggle to wrangle alone. If the world was normal, I'd just go with another relative to help but I can only rely on him at the moment.

He's refusing to come and is angry with me for trying to persuade him to be around people he can't stand but I'd really like his support and it only happens every few months for a couple of hours - am I being unreasonable or should he put his righteous hostility to the side in order to be there for me (and by extension, my brother) in this situation?

Any advice on the overall situation (including how to get your sibling away from such a toxic environment!) would be welcomed and sorry if I've rambled a bit here but wanted to try and be clear.

OP’s posts: |
peachesandclean Sat 30-May-20 14:01:38

I don't understand why you're more focused on forcing your partner to go somewhere he really doesn't want to, because of reasons that you understand and agree with, than trying to help your brother get help for his abusive relationship? Why are your priorities so out of order?

susanstohelit123 Sat 30-May-20 14:06:24

Sorry if I wasn't very clear on this point but absolutely my priority is to get my brother out of this situation, it's just not something I can do - this is a long running issue and a delicate one and the whole family are doing what we can in this respect.

The reason I didn't focus on that aspect in this post is because I'm aware I'm doing all I can to help in that regard and I wasn't in need of advice with it.

I am in need of advice in terms of how to properly stay in contact with my brother given the situation we're currently in, where I'm unable to visit him on my own and my partner won't come with me.

Apologies if my sense of urgency over my brother didn't come across - it's very much my main concern.

OP’s posts: |
susanstohelit123 Sat 30-May-20 14:08:43

Of course, as mentioned in the original post, if anyone does have any advice as to how you can extract someone from an abusive relationship that they don't seem ready to leave, I'd really like to hear from them as the whole situation is heartbreaking.

OP’s posts: |
blackcat86 Sat 30-May-20 14:08:56

You can support your brother without feeding into pretending everything is ok. You're right not to want him further isolated but couldn't you go with the newborn and leave the toddler toddler with your partner? Toddlers dont understand social distancing anyway so it's not a great idea to take your eldest and offers you a convenient excuse. I think it's also ok to say your partner just didnt fancy coming as it shows that you can be in a relationship without having to be joined at the hip, non controlling and making your own decisions - this can be helpful for those in unhealthy relationships to see. Given that the visit may not even happen it seems strange to fall out with your partner over it.

Notthetoothfairy Sat 30-May-20 14:13:26

I think just go on your own (lots of us have had babies and toddlers who we have managed to take out by ourselves!).

Two sides to every story - how do you know your brother’s partner is putting on an act to come across as nice every time you see her when really she is the wicked witch of the West? I have come across men having mental breakdowns and painting their (nice) partners in this way to their families.

averythinline Sat 30-May-20 14:13:40

can you not leave the baby or toddler with your dh - its unlikely your toddler will be able to socially distance if you cant wrangle him anyway ?

and he may find that dificult if his cousins are ther anyway so could be an additional layer of stress both for you and him..

I dont think you should pressure your dh into visiting and I;m not convinced visiting is a good idea anyway as it is normalising and unnormal situation .....children do not need to know their cousins, it is healtheir that children get to see that behaviour has consequences .... I think the pretence that all is ok is damaging....

they also need to know that they have autonomy - so if they see their dad being bullied into something that is also not good.....
you are in a tough situation ..

Feedingthebirds1 Sat 30-May-20 14:13:50

Have you discussed with your DP that you're not only doing it for the kids, but as a way of keeping in touch with your brother so that he knows you'll be there for him when he needs you? Does that sway DP at all, that you're playing the long game?

Otherwise, leave the newborn at home with him and take the toddler? If you're bf'ing you don't have to stay all afternoon, it sounds like they're fairly local. And while the cousins might like to see your baby, the toddler will benefit more from the interaction that the newborn.

Not ideal I know, but one way to do it.

susanstohelit123 Sat 30-May-20 14:18:15

blackcat86

You can support your brother without feeding into pretending everything is ok. You're right not to want him further isolated but couldn't you go with the newborn and leave the toddler toddler with your partner? Toddlers dont understand social distancing anyway so it's not a great idea to take your eldest and offers you a convenient excuse. I think it's also ok to say your partner just didnt fancy coming as it shows that you can be in a relationship without having to be joined at the hip, non controlling and making your own decisions - this can be helpful for those in unhealthy relationships to see. Given that the visit may not even happen it seems strange to fall out with your partner over it.

I'd considered taking just one of them, but thought that doesn't solve the situation of the cousins not being able to socialise and get to know each other on the rare occasion they're able to. It's a real shame.

I'm genuinely conflicted over it all because I don't want to aggravate my brother's partner into taking out any anger on him if it becomes clear how we feel about her/the situation and am sure she will work to isolate him further if we went down that path.

It feels disingenuous to pretend everything's ok when in reality I'm almost biting my tongue in half whenever I see them, but I'm trying to keep my mouth shut for my brother;s sake and make sure he's safe while still getting to see him in person. My brother does know my thoughts on their relationship, but she doesn't, for obvious reasons.

They know I'm happy to come without my partner, I've done it repeatedly for ages now, but my brother's partner is very inquisitive as to why he's not coming and it's awkward and probably obvious I'm covering for him.

We haven't fallen out over this, he's frustrated and I'm frustrated and trying to find the best way through.

I'm listening to all the feedback, thanks everyone.

OP’s posts: |
Ohtherewearethen Sat 30-May-20 14:21:25

@Notthetoothfairy - what a bizarre comment. Presumably OP knows her brother and his situation a bit better than you yet the only (unhelpful) thing you can think of to say is that OP's brother could be lying and having a mental breakdown? Odd.

susanstohelit123 Sat 30-May-20 14:24:20

Notthetoothfairy

I think just go on your own (lots of us have had babies and toddlers who we have managed to take out by ourselves!).

Two sides to every story - how do you know your brother’s partner is putting on an act to come across as nice every time you see her when really she is the wicked witch of the West? I have come across men having mental breakdowns and painting their (nice) partners in this way to their families.

I've seen enough of the behaviour to know he's telling the truth and he's broken down on a few occasions now and shown evidence of abusive texts and other issues.

She's also let the mask slip a couple of times around us, in the way she treats him and her children.

He's left on a couple of occasions but eventually, he'll tell us how much he loves her and go back to her, then the cycle starts again.

It's serious and I'm worried, but feel very helpless.

OP’s posts: |
susanstohelit123 Sat 30-May-20 14:34:46

Feedingthebirds1

Have you discussed with your DP that you're not only doing it for the kids, but as a way of keeping in touch with your brother so that he knows you'll be there for him when he needs you? Does that sway DP at all, that you're playing the long game?

Otherwise, leave the newborn at home with him and take the toddler? If you're bf'ing you don't have to stay all afternoon, it sounds like they're fairly local. And while the cousins might like to see your baby, the toddler will benefit more from the interaction that the newborn.

Not ideal I know, but one way to do it.

Yes, I've discussed it with him a lot and to give him his credit, he has made an effort on previous occasions but the hostility has grown so much that he doesn't feel he can continue.

As a previous poster highlighted, I think it'd be awful to bully him into it and definitely not an example I'd want to set to the kids (who have no idea about any of these discussions).

I imagine I'll end up going on my own (with the baby) again, but am not looking forward to the barrage of questions his absence will create and know that my brother will be getting them afterwards too. I don't want to have to keep lying about where my partner is and why he isn't there as it's too obvious now and is creating an awkward situation that I feel my sibling might get the rough end of, but don't really have an option.

I do understand his stance but I would appreciate the support so much, as would my brother, who really gets on with him.

OP’s posts: |
ohtheholidays Sat 30-May-20 14:38:51

Your poor brother bless him.

I've had a look for you to see what support and help there is for men in abusive relationships,I've helped women escape very abusive husbands in the past and the help I was given to help them was amazing so I hope the mens helplines and charitys are just as good.

These are a few I've found
www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/help-for-men-who-are-being-abused.htm

mensadviceline.org.uk/

Is there anywhere your DB and his DC could go and stay right now?

Maybe try and explain to him that getting out of this abusive relationship is not only for his benefit but for his DC's benefit as well.

Are you ever able to talk to him alone or does she make sure that she's always near by?If you can talk to him alone tell him about the helplines,if he goes shopping alone whilst the lockdown is still in place he could make the calls then or you could meet up with him and help him come up with a plan.

Just make sure to remind him to cover his tracks when it comes to looking for help online or on his phone,or any calls he makes to get help.

I was in a very abusive relationship and I had 2 very young DC and the day I escaped was the start of mine and my DC's lifes,I won't lie and say it wasn't scary at first but it was by far the best decision I have ever made!

Good luck,I really hope your brother finds the strength to leave flowers

LouiseTrees Sat 30-May-20 14:45:27

Just say you’ve had a big row with your partner. He’s not coming over as often as you don’t want to put your relationship problem on them and he’s kinda tuned out to you and can’t be bothered seeing all your side of the family or even everyone including his side. Brilliant cover story, especially easy to say if you take the baby not the toddler.

NoMoreReluctantCustodians Sat 30-May-20 14:47:43

If my DH was pressuring me to visit a member of his family who was in an abusive relationship and who I felt uncomfortable around, I wouldn't be happy. If you want to bite your tongue for your brothers sake that's fine, but i dont think he should have to if he feels uncomfortable. I think that's really unfair.

Also, if the mask slips around you sometimes, you should think about whether that is healthy for your DC to be around. Perhaps visit on your own?

LadyFeliciaMontague Sat 30-May-20 14:48:32

You have my sympathy OP.

My brother was in an abusive relationship, she used the children to control him and prevent him leaving for a long time.
He did, finally, escape but she’s poisoned the children against him and all of us. I still send my nephews and niece birthday & Christmas cards & gifts but haven’t seen them for several years now. It heartbreaking. He manages to see them when he’s allowed. He’s a broken shadow of a man who had no fight left for a custody battle.

I totally understand your DP, mine was the same. Don’t bother making excuses. Just say he doesn’t want to come.

Darnley Sat 30-May-20 14:49:35

Had a similar situation with my son. He refused to let us help, until she physically assaulted him. He’s disabled, so adult services got involved.
We took her to court, which really scared her, and I’ve had to buy her off.
It’s really difficult when you know what’s going on and can’t help.
Hopefully your brother will reach the point of allowing you to help. Good luck.

averythinline Sat 30-May-20 15:18:39

For this visit could you not just say - you didnt want to bring the toddler due to teh stress of social distancing so dh stayed behind...

the only advise i could say is don't worry about the excuses .....everyone knows its bullshit... so either say hes busy , didnt fancy it, gone climbing everest, absailing off the shard......busy in the garden....you could just pick one and say teh same thing every time...

honestly if their relationship is so bad he's left a few times and its also happenned in front of you and you are helping to maintain the facade the reasons dont matter its just for form...

.

ChristmasFluff Sat 30-May-20 17:02:22

Truly, the 'cousin' relationship is a distraction here. Your brother is in an abusive relationship.

I would be more open to your bf's approach. Stop playing along with an abuser. Be very clear to your brother that you love and support him, but don't go to his house.

I was in an abusive relationship. I would never have expected my family to tolerate that. They didn't visit when he was around.

Demonstrate to your brother that he may be choosing to tolerate a partner who abuses him, but you are not willing to.

I would certainly never put a child in the presence of a known abuser.

If you must go, go alone.

Darnley Sat 30-May-20 17:09:55

Agree with the above post totally.
Being taken to court was the first time in her life that someone had stood up to her and called her out on her behaviour. She crumbled...
Their 5 yr old DD witnessed the assault and was terrified. The atmosphere around her was totally toxic. Not one a child should be anywhere near.

InescapableDeath Sat 30-May-20 17:16:36

My SIL is in an abusive relationship that she’s trying to leave but probably won’t. I’ve made it clear to my husband that I will not go and sit in his house where he could potentially threaten me or my kids, or where going might be some sort of tacit approval of their relationship.

I’ll support her getting out. I won’t go and pretend it’s all fine.

susanstohelit123 Sat 30-May-20 22:11:23

ChristmasFluff

Truly, the 'cousin' relationship is a distraction here. Your brother is in an abusive relationship.

I would be more open to your bf's approach. Stop playing along with an abuser. Be very clear to your brother that you love and support him, but don't go to his house.

I was in an abusive relationship. I would never have expected my family to tolerate that. They didn't visit when he was around.

Demonstrate to your brother that he may be choosing to tolerate a partner who abuses him, but you are not willing to.

I would certainly never put a child in the presence of a known abuser.

If you must go, go alone.

This is real food for thought. I didn't want to ignore my brother's invites and cut him off as I know he misses his family and is increasingly isolated from us - that's why I've gone and tolerated small talk with her over cups of tea on the rare occasions we've been invited to their home.

I also don't want to miss out on seeing my nephews and building a relationship with them as they don't have it easy, either. That relationship is not one that will be enabled at the moment by my brother or his partner so I've always felt like I should make that effort when the offers are open.

She's nice as anything to my children, so far - if I felt there was any threat to them, they'd go nowhere near her, but she prides herself on being good with kids (I'd disagree based on how she is with her own, but she likes to make that impression).

It's not the case, sadly, that I can visit when she's not around - she never leaves the house and he is never away from her side when he's not working, I've never even managed to corner him in a different room.

So, I need to do a lot of thinking about whether I should follow my partner's example and cut them off in the hope that it nudges my brother towards getting out, or whether I continue to see him and try to maintain a relationship with him and his kids in the situation he's in currently.

Thanks for your feedback, everyone, especially those who've passed on contact for support for him. I don't think he'll take it at the moment but fingers crossed for the future.

OP’s posts: |
FlyAwayLikeABird Sun 31-May-20 01:25:15

Agree with your husband. Though I would not be able to have a calm conversation with anyone that was abusing my brother then had the nerve to be all nice inviting me round like everything was ok.

AllosaurusMum Sun 31-May-20 03:35:36

Your partners right. By taking your kids over, you’re teaching them that she’s a safe person. Talk to your brother on the phone if he can, tell him you’ll always be there when he’s ready to leave, but you need to keep your kids away.

Myohmy111 Sun 31-May-20 04:10:43

Two sides to every story - how do you know your brother’s partner is putting on an act to come across as nice every time you see her when really she is the wicked witch of the West? I have come across men having mental breakdowns and painting their (nice) partners in this way.

@Notthetoothfairy* What a disgraceful attitude to take. Would you have questioned the veracity of the domestic abuse had the OP been referring to her sister instead of her brother being a victim? It’s partly due to attitudes like yours that male victims are often reluctant to come forward.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »