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No idea how to handle my sister

(42 Posts)
whatkungfuthat Mon 21-Jan-13 21:51:29

This may be long, sorry, and I can't be bothered to name change so if it outs me in RL so be it.

My eldest sister is deaf (is relevant) and lives independently in an old people's bungalow, they let her have it early due to her difficulties. She has always been very single minded and quite cold and selfish. She would strip our elderly mother of all her money and assets given the chance and doesn't seem to feel any kind of shame or embarrassment. She can also fly into very violent rages, this broke up her marriage. We seem to lurch from one drama to another with her and her behaviour can be appalling but the latest is quite worrying:

She has a number of those plastic storage boxes/lockable sheds in her garden and a few weeks before Xmas one fell over and broke the neighbours fence, all her neighbours are elderly. The neighbour has been more than reasonable and has said she would get the fence replaced but has asked my sister for a nominal amount to replace the single panel, which my sister initially agree to. Now she has decided that she won't pay and basically expects someone else to, in the past this would have been our late DF. She doesn't have money issues so paying isn't the problem. My other sister, who lives nearer, has been the interpreter/go-between and has tried to explain she must pay as the neighbour is quite within her rights to sue. She doesn't believe that this will happen as she thinks that being deaf somehow excuses her. This is a constant theme. She has also been throwing rubbish into the woman's garden and, quite rightly, the neighbour called the police. The neighbour has pictures of my sister doing it. When the police arrived she flew into a rage and the officer showed her his handcuffs as he thought it would calm her down. She just laughed in his face, not believing she could be arrested. There has now been another incident and the police have been called tonight. I am trying to find out the details. If we challenge her on her behaviour she refuses to listen or attempts to become violent, apart from with me (I had to restrain her once when she attacked our DF so she knows her threats won't work). I have texted her to tell her that she could lose her home as the police are involved and the neighbours can complain to the housing association but she just ignores it. She goes round all her friends complaining and seeking validation until she finds someone who agrees with her, this is then enough to convince her she is in the right, she truly believes her disability protects her from any kind of consequences. I guess what I am worried about is that if she gets evicted she will end up back with my DM, which will kill my DM.

I am not unsympathetic to her needs, I have an autistic DS. The reason I have mentioned her disability is that she believes it absolves her from any consequences and in the past this has been true as my DF used to drop everything and run. Can anyone suggest anything we can do to or any kind of intervention please? She has support workers but they keep leaving due to her aggression. My BIL will pay for the fence but that is not really the issue.

whatkungfuthat Wed 23-Jan-13 16:56:35

Thanks so much for your post whitecloud, and I will definitely look up Sibs as I hadn't heard of them before. Everyone in the family keeps saying that its all sorted now etc. but I know its only until the next time. This time was a bit more public and that is why it got sorted (eventually).

whitecloud Wed 23-Jan-13 16:36:20

whatkungfuthat - well done for getting your DM to see reality. Think Slattern is so right that a mother has a lifetime burden of responsibility and guilt. It sometimes takes an extreme external situation for them to see things as they really are and just how difficult/toxic their child is. I think a lot of people cope with having a family member like this by kidding themselves and saying that the person is all right really. IME families will cope with an awful lot, telling themselves things are not too bad and it takes an outsider, like your dsis's next door neighbour to bring them up short and complain when things are really difficult and unacceptable. It is not OK or normal, even if the family norm says it is.

Have watched this at second hand in my dh's family. I am lucky to have the option of staying out of it and keeping quiet so as not to rock the family boat (serious ructions if I did). That is, until it impinges on us. Might not happen, but there again it might. If I have to put my foot flat down one day, so be it. I am going to make sure we set boundaries. How wise you are to have already done so and to be supporting your DM in standing firm.

This thread is good. It highlights the fact that adult siblings can carry on being difficult. It isn't just children. Have you heard of an organisation called Sibs? I found them on the internet. They have a helpful website for adult siblings with advice on legal/emotional issues. They advise having keyworker's details and an action plan in case of a crisis. I spoke to a support worker who was very good. I want to be prepared if things get difficult, to support my husband and his siblings. You might find it a help.

Hope things get easier soon. All the best.

whatkungfuthat Wed 23-Jan-13 14:22:15

At this point the best thing to put in the gin is more gin. grin Just seen DM, she seems quite contrite having considered what its like from the neighbours perspective.

izzyizin Wed 23-Jan-13 12:27:13

O dear.

All you can do, honey, is to keep pouring that gin being the voice of reason with your dm and the voice that keeps her from being further exploited by your dsis should the HA have enough of her neighbours' complaints about her antisocial behaviour and move to evict her.

Do you think it would help your dsis if she were housed in a deaf community property? If so, this may be something her keyworker(s) could explore as an option for her regardless of any possible eviction.

Here's an <olive> emoticon to go with your favourite tipple or maybe you'd prefer a <lemon slice>?

whatkungfuthat Wed 23-Jan-13 11:20:41

Well I did say I would be back! Spoke to DM this morning and she is already starting to make excuses for my sister's behaviour saying that she thinks the woman is at fault too and that she has not accepted the cheque as she wants cash (good for her). I jumped on that straightaway by asking her how she would feel if a plastic cupboard thing from next door came crashing through her fence and then the neighbours refused to pay for repairs, got so abusive and aggressive that the police have to be called then started throwing rubbish in her garden. I said the poor elderly woman must have been scared out of her wits and left wondering what she was living next door to. This came about because my sister sent a grovelling fax asking if my mum still loved her, total manipulation. I can see that I have a lot of work to do on my DM but I aim to head off this type of thinking and nip it in the bud. <pours large gin>

whatkungfuthat Wed 23-Jan-13 07:44:25

Thanks izzy, that is good to hear about housing. I don't suppose this is the last drama but hopefully she'll be quiet for a while.

thanks to everyone who has taken the time to post on this thread, I really appreciate it and it was such a relief to find so many people who thought the same as me about letting her find out the hard way. I may be back grin

izzyizin Wed 23-Jan-13 01:29:30

Let's hope this is the long overdue warning shot across the bows your dsis needs to modify her unreasonable behaviour.

However, as she is classed a 'vulnerable adult' by virtue of her disability, were she to be evicted from her current housing association property, the local borough/city council or regional authority will be statutorily obliged to rehouse her and with vocal objection from you her keyworker(s) should ensure there's no need for her to fetch up on your long-suffering dm's doorstep even as a temporary measure.

LemonBreeland Tue 22-Jan-13 19:03:46

Glad it has been sorted for now. I think BIL, since he knows her, should speak to the neighbour and encourage her to call the police if there are any more issues.

whatkungfuthat Tue 22-Jan-13 18:50:09

If it doesn't clear the neighbour will go to small claims, as she said when she would when she thought she wasn't getting the money. My sister got a bit of a shock today, the police gave her quite a talking to so I don't think she'd cancel. I am not sure she is aware you can though iyswim?

pippop1 Tue 22-Jan-13 17:50:06

Maybe someone could advise the neighbour to cash the cheque fairly quickly?

whatkungfuthat Tue 22-Jan-13 17:24:57

I thought that but I don't think she would know how, and she wouldn't do it if they charge.

HecateWhoopass Tue 22-Jan-13 17:10:53

I hope she doesn't cancel the cheque.

whatkungfuthat Tue 22-Jan-13 16:40:42

Thanks whitecloud, it is . I think the fact that everyone stood up to her and agreed with each other helped, normally her dramas aren't so straightforward or you don't get the whole story so she finds someone who is more sympathetic. I think this time it was a shock that everyone was telling her the same things.

whitecloud Tue 22-Jan-13 16:16:32

So glad you have managed to sort something out. It is so hard, isn't it? A continuous background worry. I think it is great that your other sister has spoken to the key worker and you are both standing firm. The last time my
s-in-law caused trouble, my dh spoke to his brothers and they both gave her a stern talking to. Standing together seemed to help, if it's any comfort.

whatkungfuthat Tue 22-Jan-13 15:32:30

*she will have a translator

whatkungfuthat Tue 22-Jan-13 15:32:10

She has now paid the money (by cheque unfortunately). I would imagine that the police are going to have a stern word too, as the will have a translator with her. So, unless the neighbour reports it all to the housing assoc, it will be quiet now until the next outburst. From the sounds of it she ran out of people to agree with her and had to concede she was in the wrong. I have spoken to my other sister about not giving in to her next demands and that is the message that I will be reinforcing with my mother.

whatkungfuthat Tue 22-Jan-13 13:10:29

I have a bit of an update. My other sister has managed to speak to the key worker from the charity that helps our sister and she is in agreement with us about her behaviour and the reasons for it. The police are coming back later and said that unless its resolved they will act. My other sister has asked the lady from the charity to show our sister her tenancy agreement and point out what can happen. She will try and get our sister to go to the cashpoint and take out the money to put through the neighbours door. I am not confident this will happen though. I have also got my BIL to agree not to pay and to let it play out for now so that she can see the consequences.

I understand about my DM and the guilt and responsibility, that is why I am so worried, as I would be the same with my ASD DS. I think the best we can hope for is that the police frighten her enough not to try this again with the neighbours. We are all in agreement that the best way of dealing with her is to stand firm but our DM is weak link for obvious reasons.

SlatternismyMiddlename Tue 22-Jan-13 10:53:03

I agree with all the previous posters about your DS having to face the consequences of her actions. I think you biggest difficulty is going to be ensuring your DM does not cave to pressure to be DS's escape route.

Whilst you have a clear picture of what is appropriate and not appropriate behaviour and realise your DS cannot keep getting away with it your mother is in a much more awkward position. She is her mother - and with that carries a lifetime of guilt and responsisbilty that is not going to be easily ignored.

As the OP said, her DM can be manipulated. I would concentrate on helping your DM stand strong. Your DS is not going to change her behaviour and you will be beating your head off a brick wall if you try, I would concentrate on protecting your DM.

whitecloud Tue 22-Jan-13 10:41:14

Very sorry - have just reread and realised your df is no longer here. Am sure it makes you even more determined to protect your dm.

whitecloud Tue 22-Jan-13 10:34:05

whatkungfuthat - expressing my support. IME with dh's family, the disabled or disadvantaged person becomes very good at playing on other people's sympathy, especially dps, and all kinds of excuses are made for them. People outside the family always feel so sorry for the person with the disability. Fair enough, but their sympathy doesn't seem to extend much to family who have to put up with all their negative, difficult behaviour.

Three cheers for you for standing outside situation and seeing all this as it is, deciding that other family members have rights and taking the difficult path of standing up for your dps, who can no longer cope with what she is throwing at them. Think older people, especially, feel very responsible for adult disabled to the extent of bailing them out all the time. Sadly, they are not doing the person any favours, because no-one can live their life for them and they have to face up to the consequences of their actions in the end.

She is bright enough to know she can't get away with it with you. If everyone stands up to her, things might improve. Getting families to see that, however, is not easy. Bet she is an expert at manipulating your parents. Have every sympathy for mh problems etc, but everyone can do something to help themselves and climb out of them. If she doesn't want to, why should everyone else suffer?

Think you are quite right to resist pressure if authorities try to push her onto your dps to save money. It is too much for them and totally unfair.

EmpressOfThePuddle Tue 22-Jan-13 09:55:44

Have you considered that SS's response might be to try to get you to take responsibility for her?

Imaginethat Tue 22-Jan-13 09:24:38

Agreeing with branleuse, from your description your sister sounds as though she has mental health problems. A lot of mentally ill people end up in police cells if they are not first able to access help through the health service. V difficult if she isn't motivated to change her behaviour.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Tue 22-Jan-13 09:19:22

Your BIL shouldn't pay the neighbout: where, in that plan, does your sister have to shoulder her own responsibilities?

drizzlecake Tue 22-Jan-13 09:01:57

Might she be rehomed (somewhere less desirable). If it's a HA home can the HA just evict her, or would the council be obliged to find somewhere else (if she is registered as disabled). Just thinking that elderly mother might not be obliged to house her. What about elderly mother moving into some sort of sheltered housing where Sis wouldn't be allowed to move in to.

Perhaps if there wasn't this option of moving in with DM available to sis she might be a bit more cautious.

I think I would chat to your GP, describe her behaviour and see if Doc thinks there could be any other health issues contributing to this.

whatkungfuthat Tue 22-Jan-13 08:14:43

I'm not sure what I can do about that though. You could be right but she has seen a huge number of doctors over the years and it has never been mooted as a possibility. She is very highly functioning in all the other areas of her life. She worked until recently and travels a lot independently with her on/off BF who has a similar condition. It seems that when something like this happens she just opts out. She doesn't want to pay the money, thinks the neighbour is being unreasonable and then kicks off at anyone who tries to intervene. This is her usual pattern but its more serious this time as she could lose her home.

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