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My brother attacked my mum with a knife, their alcoholism is out of control

(24 Posts)
fuckinglivid Thu 30-Jun-11 20:28:53

I am a regular but have namechanged. Not sure why, just feel ashamed at the association of the situation. Forgive this post for being a bit incoherent. I will be omitting information but only because there is so much shit to explain I can't possibly write it all down. I will try, I just want some kind of advice, I have no idea what to do about this.

Background: I am about to get married and live with my DP and our 5 month old DS in the same town as my mum (and dad). My brother lives with my mum. She has been an alcoholic for at least 15 years that I can recall (brother and I are mid twenties). Dad left when we were 15 - I still have a good relationship with him, brother not so much. I left home at 17 because I couldn't deal with her alcoholism anymore. She has always been emotionally abusive with me. Brother was always "off the rails" even before dad left. He used dad leaving as an excuse to continue using drugs (as he had done since age 12) and to treat my mum and me like shit, and to avoid doing anything with his life - didn't finish school and hasn't done a day's work in his life. Mum supports him fully, paying his food, clothes, alcohol and cigarettes. She is a teacher and earns less than I do, so obviously has never been able to afford this and has run up tens of thousands in debts trying to do so. He won't claim benefits because he claims he is too "paranoid" to go to sign on. He doesn't leave the house on his own, only with mum, mostly to go to Cash Converters to pawn her jewellery, cameras, etc to fund his upkeep and their cigarette and alcohol addictions. He was a drug addict (pills, coke, weed throughout his teen years), he has been an alcoholic for probably the past 3 years. It is self-perpetuating because mum buys him alcohol, cigarettes, etc, to assuage HER guilt about being an alcoholic. They both complain about each other to me, but both refuse to do anything about it - he won't leave, she won't kick him out, etc etc.

There are a lot of worrying incidents that have happened over the past few years involving both of them, alcohol and violence (him towards her) and during my pregnancy last year she was saying more and more that he was attacking her and destroying her house (the latter I have seen evidence of - also I know he has form as he did this when we were teens). He would deny it and say that she was making it up. It is difficult to know who is telling the truth, or even whether they know the entire truth because they forget they are so drunk, but I know that they have terrible rows when drunk, particularly on the weekend. Their relationship is destructive. I have tried hard to help over the years, taking him in to live with me when I was single and in my own flat (had to kick him out because of drunken behaviour on many instances), have tried hard to advise her but she won't take it from me. She has her own mental health issues surrounding paranoia - she thinks I'm against her and my DP and dad think she is jealous of me. Admittedly she has said some not very nice personal things to me over the years but I try to overlook this to a point because she is my mother and she has issues.

On Saturday morning at 3.30am I had a call from my mum saying my brother was cutting his wrists up and there was blood all over the floor, could I call my dad and get him to come and collect him (mum and dad don't talk). I called my dad (both mum and brother have form for calling people including my DGrandmother late at night/early morning whilst pissed) and he said he couldn't do anything, and to call the police. I didn't know whether it was my mum attention seeking or what was happening, but my DP called the police and my brother was taken to hospital. He called me at 7am, having discharged himself whilst waiting to be seen by a psychiatrist, trying to get hold of my mum. He got home, and my mum went over to my DGrandmother's house, she found her outside in her car swigging from a wine bottle, invited her in and gave her the sofa bed for the night. I discovered this portion today when I visited my DGrandmother who lives locally. Later on on Saturday, my brother posted a picture of a pool of blood to Facebook. We're talking big pool of blood, probably about a foot of it in context with my mum's sofa in the background.

I saw my mum on Tuesday and noticed she had bruises all over her arms (finger bruises particularly), and a massive, deep slash on her forearm which, to me, was obviously intentionally made. If it had been on my arm I would have gone to get stitches I asked my mum about it and she told me she had done it cutting branches in the garden. I suspected my brother had attacked her with the same knife he was using to cut himself on Friday night/Saturday morning. According to my DGrandmother, my mum had told her the whole sorry story on the Saturday when she was at hers, and it was indeed my brother who had done it.

I am now LIVID that my brother has attacked her. IMO, it is one thing if he wants to go cutting himself up, but to attack my mum is beyond what is acceptable. Neither of them are angels but one of her faults is the fact that she has been far too generous with him and he takes the piss.

The problem is, she won't call the police of him, displaced sense of loyalty or whatever, yet he is destroying her house and now attacking her with knives. I know he has pushed and hit her in the past but she has always brushed it off and denies it, as she continues to do in this instance.

My question is, what the hell do you do with someone who won't help themselves in these circumstances? It is clear that they both need help with their mental health/depression, their alcoholism and co-dependency. It is so fucked up and I am desperately worried about her (and him, but to a lesser degree, because he has been sponging off her for years and is good at manipulation and pretending to be "poor old X, who tolerates his boozer mum"). She doesn't "trust" me (her words) but won't talk to anyone else either. She has no friends. The only people she has looking out for her are me and my DGrandmother and we are at a loss as well. My dad is worried but he can't talk to her as she hates him and she is just so fucking impossible at accepting help. I'm desperate! Has anyone else been in a position of having a loved one who won't help themselves when they are being physically attacked in their own home? God this message is shit and rambly and doesn't give insight into the half of it but any advice gratefully received. If not, it has been helpful to vent. Thanks.

fuckinglivid Thu 30-Jun-11 20:33:29

Going out now to walk the dogs. So upset and angry and feel so helpless.

Hassled Thu 30-Jun-11 20:38:35

You poor thing. I don't have the first clue what to say, nor what you should do. Can you report the assault on your mother to the police yourself? Even if she denies it, they'll see it wasn't a gardening accident and would maybe press charges regardless.
It's a nightmare situation and I wish I had some wise words.

fuckinglivid Thu 30-Jun-11 20:38:44

Oh, and the reason I didn't rush over there on Friday night is because I didn't want to put myself in a dangerous situation where I would have tried to use force to stop my brother. I didn't want to get carted away by police, or injured, as I am still breastfeeding my DS and can't be away from him for more than a couple of hours.

fuckinglivid Thu 30-Jun-11 20:39:42

Hassled do you think I should report it now, even though it is several days later and she denies it? Do you think it needs to go on the record? Obviously it is on record that he cut HIMSELF, but not her.

jesuswhatnext Thu 30-Jun-11 20:45:27

you poor poor love!! sad

can i say from the start that im an alcoholic and im looking at all you have written from that perspective

personally i think you need to take a deep breath and WALK AWAY!

your mum and your brother are both adults and are making their own choices, i can see that you love them dearly and i can also see that NOTHING you do will change this situation!

i think, for your own peace of mind, your family (im talking about your partner and baby) you have to leave them to get on with it

i would write to them both, explain very clearly how you feel and that they will be welcome in your life once they stop drinking, until then ask them to stay away!

i think this will be the hardest thing you will ever do, but i think self-preservation now has to be upper most in your mind!

i wish you all the luck in world!

Loonytoonie Thu 30-Jun-11 20:48:01

Oh god. What a desperate situation.
OP you are absolutely right to not go near when they've been drinking. You've a little one to think about now and should you come between those two, it could be you with a knife in your arm, or worse. sad

I would report it to the Police, if only for a something to be recorded. I haven't the first idea of what the law is, but this kind of DV needs recording. I would also approach her GP - do you have a family GP? And I would totally spill. Tell them the lot. I know of a family, many years ago admittedly, that went down this route with their middle aged Mum who's alcoholism became out of control. She was eventually sectioned for her own safety. I don't know how you feel about this, but I agree that you need to feel that you're doing something. Police and GP, as soon as you can OP.

Proudnscary Thu 30-Jun-11 20:49:11

I could not agree more with Jesuswhatnext - and I'm not coming at it as an alcoholic. But as someone who had to walk away completely from a toxic mother to save my own sanity - as it happened it also salvaged a relationship with her further down the line. It was absolutely the right thing to do.
You cannot do anything, protect yourself.

Hassled Thu 30-Jun-11 20:49:31

I think jesuswhat next talks sense. It will be very hard for you, but your new family and your well-being comes first. Think about it.

Re the reporting now thing - you can but try. Ring the non-emergency number and explain - see what they say. If they say no, sorry, you've lost nothing.

jesuswhatnext Thu 30-Jun-11 20:54:47

i would advise doing nothing regarding police/doctors etc, it just perpetuates contact and allows them to regard you as either a 'carer' or an interfering bitch depending on how much they have drunk that day!

its their lives, their decision to live like they do, just make sure they dont keep hurting you into the bargain!

fuckinglivid Thu 30-Jun-11 21:52:03

Thanks for helpful responses, everyone.

I reported it to the non emergency police and they linked it to the case that was taken out on Friday night, when my partner called them. They said they would contact me before contacting my mum if any further action was taken but I doubt it will be based on the length of time before I made this follow up call, and the fact that she outright denies it - to me, anyway.

Loony, funnily enough my dad has an appointment to speak to my brother's doctor tomorrow. They are at the same practice. My mum is at a different practice and I am at another different one, but dad wants to escalate it to adult social services via this route. Not sure if anything can be done but my brother's doctor knows (some of) his mental health issues, he has been prescribed antidepressants (citalopram I think) but he refuses to take them saying "I don't want to put drugs in my body" - ironic given his years of regular illegal drug use. Still, putting it on record again, in this medium, is proactive at least.

I know I should walk away until they clean up their act, but I am overly sentimental as it is. I feel for my mum because she has no one else. She loves my DS and I feel that by taking him away from her I am cutting off any source of joy to her life at all. I feel less for my brother because frankly he is a shit and I think many of his issues are due to the fact that he has never taken responsibility for himself - we had exactly the same upbringing, it wasn't a bad one, and I feel angry that he leeches off my mum in the way that he does. Although it is chicken and egg now. She doesn't want him to go and they are a little unit of destruction now. I have very little contact with him after an occasion two Christmases ago when he caused a drunken scene in communal area in my house (converted flats) and then again last Christmas when I was heavily pregnant, when he insisted early one morning that I take him to A&E because he "couldn't breathe" - long story short I didn't want to be in hospital with him too long (he was drunk of course) because I didn't want to catch flu at 8 months pregnant, so I went to get petrol and again he discharged himself and my partner had to physically throw him out of our car as he was being verbally abusive, bordering on violent while I was driving him home.

To be honest I want to move towns, even though this is a lovely place to bring up children. DP's lovely family are in London but we can't afford to move there, and with work and mortgage etc, it is hard to make the jump to live elsewhere - also I feel WHY SHOULD I - because of their fucking behaviour?

Sorry, I keep ranting.

Have reported to police and will make a direct enquiry to adult social services tomorrow myself I think. Dad is doing doctor route but something must be done. I personally feel that they would both benefit from sectioned.

fuckinglivid Thu 30-Jun-11 21:54:47

Should add that my mum is only allowed to see DS when sober, and under supervision. She babysat for him last week, my partner and I started a yoga course, but I think one of us will have to stop going because I don't really want someone who has such little regard for her own safety being in charge of my son.

fuckinglivid Thu 30-Jun-11 21:56:59

Jesus - as an alcoholic, do you have a family that you see? Would you understand if your daughter walked away, taking your grandson with her, from you? Or are you not as destructive? Sorry if my questions are rude, I am just trying to understand from an alcoholic's perspective.

fuckinglivid Thu 30-Jun-11 22:04:54

"i can see that you love them dearly and i can also see that NOTHING you do will change this situation!" You're so right. I have been trying for years. I just feel so helpless and desperate with it. sad It affects me because whenever I have a few drinks (rare since pregnancy and breastfeeding) I question myself and think maybe I'm as bad as them, but I know rationally I'm not because I'm drinking to socialise and enjoy myself whereas they drink alone and as a tool for numbing, I guess. I just find it hard to contextualise, even though I know my alcohol consumption is healthy and theirs isn't. It feels like a demon I carry, constantly.

Got to get in touch with Al-Anon, really. It just feels shit in the sense that I am the one having to seek support when I'm not the one with a drinking problem!

jesuswhatnext Thu 30-Jun-11 22:08:58

livid - my dd was one of the main reasons i knew i had to get sober, i had a dreadful last few months of drinking when i was in danger of losing my dh and my dd - a lot of what i did i actually cant remember, i caused a great deal of harm, i took away my dds peace of mind, her sense of stability etc. i was selfish and out of control and the last day of my drinking both she and my husband layed it on the line - i had to choose, them or the bottle, it really was that simple!

fwiw, now im sober i really can say that the best thing my daughter could do if i drank again would be to walk away, particuarly if she had children of her own - a drunken mother/grandmother is, to my mind, worse than not having one at all, the damage that watching an alcoholic distruct is too dreadful for anyone to have to see!

fuckinglivid Thu 30-Jun-11 22:21:14

Thanks, Jesus, I understand. Well done for getting sober, I admire anyone who can beat addiction like that. I can see why alcohol is so addictive, I just wish it wasn't so destructive.

Unfortunately she has a habit of cutting off her nose to spite her face. She also has a terrible persecution complex. Everyone is out to get her, or so she thinks. I fear that if I walked away, it would be just another catalyst for her to drink. I am not sure she would ever come round. In her world, she's got her son, they are in their little unit of destruction, she would forever hate me for doing that "to" her - I don't think she would ever see that it would be FOR her. She's quite a messed up individual, it's to do with family stuff that I know bits of but she won't divulge to me or anyone. Part of the problem really is this inability to communicate her emotions - I know also that this culminates in the alcoholism.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Jesus, though. It is food for thought.

(and grin at addressing 'Jesus' in a MN post!)

jesuswhatnext Thu 30-Jun-11 22:42:46

grin livid!, just call me god for short!

seriously, a few points you may like to ponder - her persecution problem could well be caused by the booze, most alkies think the world is against them, its a very good reason (excuse) to carry on drinking!

if you walk away and she carries on drinking at least you are not there to witness the fall out - if you walk away and it brings her up short, then you will be able to re-build your relationship, in my book, its a win-win!, if you walk away and she 'hates you forever' so what?, again, you wont be about to listen to it!

as to being 'a messed up individual', thats a shame, but really, she does have the choice to deal with whatever the problem is, you say she is a teacher, so not a stupid person, just a selfish one, i know that sounds harsh but deep down, she knows she has options, she is just choosing the path of least effort!

btw, i havent 'beaten' my alcoholism, i have just found a way to live with it a day at a time!

fuckinglivid Thu 30-Jun-11 23:07:31

Points to ponder indeed. That comment about "choosing the path of least effort" resonates, actually. You're right (of course you are - you're God! grin). Seriously, it is that simple, isn't it? Going to have a long think about how best to proceed from here. Thanks again for giving me your perspective and sharing the wisdom of experience.

jesuswhatnext Fri 01-Jul-11 09:23:02

livid - been thinking about you all night - please let us know how you get on! hope you are ok this morning!

ModreB Fri 01-Jul-11 17:48:09

What you could do is speak to the police and ask for a MARAC referral. Information about this is here.

A MARAC referral can be made without the consent of the victim, and will be flagged up to all the relevant agencies. In some circumstances the victim can be forced to accept help for their own safety. The police also have the power to ban someone from a residential property if they feel that the risk is high enough.

garlicnutter Fri 01-Jul-11 19:20:42

Yes, you and your dad are doing the right things wrt police and doctor. Your brother could have been sectioned during the knife incident - it probably wouldn't have made any long-term difference but, at least, you'd have known they were both safe from harm and it just might have been a wake-up call for one of them.

Now the police and GP are aware of the situation, dial 999 the next time it all kicks off. Say you believe your brother is a danger to himself or your mother, and why. You can't control them or fix them, but you can put them in safe hands.

garlicnutter Fri 01-Jul-11 19:23:28

Btw, I have made that call a few times myself - without violence, just overwhelming, scary drunkenness. The ambulance crews & police have always been very kind and very firm smile

fuckinglivid Fri 01-Jul-11 19:23:37

Thanks Modre, that is a useful link.

The police called me this morning and asked me to come in to give them some more info and have a chat. They told me at the station today that officers had seen my mum's injuries on Friday night, but she had denied it had anything to do with my brother, and signed a statement saying as much. The officer (who was seriously about 12! But very nice and helpful. Made me feel old!) said that the best step to take was to go through the GP to try and get adult SS involved, with a view to him being assessed, then if he is found to be mentally unstable he can be taken to hospital with a warrant under section 3 - the mental health act? (Have actually been detained under this myself when I was younger, after being dumped by my waster ex and having a secret abortion - I was not treated appropriately and then released as there was nothing actually wrong in terms of my core mental health.) I hope that because he is clearly mentally unstable thy may be able to do something. They obviously can't arrest him for attacking her without her giving a statement saying he did it - which she won't. Funnily enough, as I mentioned yesterday, my dad already had the appointment to see his GP today with a view to starting this process. He took copies of the photo of the pool of blood my brother had posted to Facebook, including a screenshot I took of some bizarre comments he made with it. The doctor is trying to contact brother by phone, but they don't answer the landline due to fear of debt collectors, so I fear it may not be of any use. Still, we shall see.

That is where we are at so far. DGrandmother is involved and on side with me, my DP and my dad with trying to get help. I have made the decision that if nothing comes of this 'intervention', I will have to cease contact with my mum for the time being. I am consumed by their destruction, worry for her etc, when I should be focusing entirely on my new baby and my family. If I cease contact then I won't be able to invite her or my brother to the wedding but perhaps that will be the wake up call she needs. I highly doubt it, but here's hoping...

fuckinglivid Fri 01-Jul-11 19:28:37

Thanks garlic, that is my plan for the future. Have avoided it in the past as my mum hates the police due to a drink driving incident on her part a few years ago, but also because my dad has never been shy in involving the police when my brother has been out of control, and she hates my dad and as such will cut off her nose to spite her face to avoid police. Obviously I can only call them if I am aware of an incident, which I will only be if one of them phones me while it is occurring, but I will certainly be seeking police support in future if confronted with a situation. They gave me explicit instructions to do so, today, so I will take heed.

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