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First steps towards healing - dealing with abusive and toxic behaviour

(41 Posts)
Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 14:04:12

My DB and SIL have years of unhealthy relationship behind them. Yesterday, yet again it came to a head, with flying objects, shouting, screaming, physical and verbal abuse sad Two children, aged 10 and 2, are in utter shock, although not for the first time. Parents are in shock too, but unable to act on it in a constructive way.

Generally, DB flatly refuses to separate or divorce. He's happy hmm

SIL wants out, but is financially dependent, and although unhappy, doesn't have the strength to act on it. She tried but keeps buying his promises that things will improve. I support her the best way I can but it is difficult because she is not actually doing anything to change the situation.

I talked to her yesterday. Gave her all the usual advise - relationship counseling, making steps towards financial independence. She also knows she and the kids can come and stay at ours any time.

I will talk to DB later today. What do I say? How do I shake him up into dealing with it? Help me to put this into words. This is so far beyond normality, and has such a long history, that I am lost for words.

Thank you...

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 13-Nov-13 14:19:31

Tell him you'll be calling the police and SS?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 13-Nov-13 14:21:36

Actually, forget the question mark there. Call the police and SS. If you've got DCs traumatised by the abusive behaviour of their parent (s) then you have a duty of care to get the authorities involved. Is your DB the aggressor?

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 14:37:22

Cogito, thanks. Wise words, as always.
I wasn't witnessing any of it.
Do you think I should report it anyway?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 13-Nov-13 14:38:55

How do you know about the flying objects etc?

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 14:39:54

"Is your DB the aggressor?" - tricky one.

They're so lost in their tracks that they both display abusive behaviours, tbh. But I have more sympathy towards SIL because she's looking after the children, and is protecting them, as much as she can. DB doesn't seem to care much that children are emotionally hurt by all this.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 13-Nov-13 14:42:55

Who told you about the flying objects and physical abuse?

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 14:43:10


Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 14:44:19

It is very believable, given their history, but it is what it is - her side of the story, and not something I witnessed. Which is why I'll be talking to DB today.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 13-Nov-13 14:45:53

And is she a trustworthy person? Do you think she's telling the truth?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 13-Nov-13 14:47:28

If your DB is abusive, I doubt he'll admit it to you. There would be merit in calling the 101 non-emergency police number and asking their advice. It's the DCs that need protecting here.... it's not siding with SIL against DB or vice versa.

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 14:59:03

Yes I think she's telling the truth but I also understand that she might have a twisted perception of what's happening as it's all very emotional, intense and stressful.

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 17:24:40

Bump for any other opinions.

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 17:24:56

Bump for any other opinions.

EldritchCleavage Wed 13-Nov-13 17:38:10

SS report I think. Even if you aren't directly a witness, if you think it is credible or likely that there was shouting, screaming, physical and verbal abuse in front of the children then alert SS to that and tell them it is an on-going situation.

I really think it would not be a good idea to leave the children in the middle of this, without intervention, for years and years because the parents are stuck. It doesn't matter so much which parent is most to blame, only that the dynamic between them is awful a significant percentage of the time. And if their dynamic is that messed up, then isn't it possible the children are pawns in this game or even being (at least verbally) abused as well?

MillyRules Wed 13-Nov-13 17:38:29

Hi, does he hurt her physically, does she hurt him?

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 18:38:09

MillyRules, not on purpose, but strictly speaking - yes sad
I won't go into the details here.

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 18:38:53

EldritchCleavage, thanks

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 18:45:24

[dreading the conversation confused but it has to be done]

MillyRules Wed 13-Nov-13 19:09:02

I don't know......unless you are actually there and witness all this then you only have her side and how she perceives her world. If they are both accidentally violent with each other then they are both culpable. Why has she involved you in this. Are you sure that underneath it all, they are on some level happy with their relationship. Did you see the kids actually upset. From what you have said I would tread carefully before doing anything. Is she by any chance a bit of a drama queen or do you genuinely think that your brother is all to blame?

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 19:23:22

No I don't think my brother is all to blame. I just think it's deeply traumatic for the kids, and they have responsibility for dealing with it. Both of them.

BillyBanter Wed 13-Nov-13 19:32:14

When you say you are going to talk to your brother are you going to ask him what happened the other night or tell him it's not on and things have to change?

Has he said that things get shouty and physical or does he deny anything happens? I'm just thinking that if you are not witnessing things personally it might be better to be able to say to SS that he told you himself that he threw stuff etc. but doesn't see it as a problem whereas your SIL does recognise the problem but feels too weak to act as you think that the best outcome is for them to split up and her have the kids and support.

It might be that SS both force her hand and support her to split from him.

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 20:54:37

BillyBanter - both really. Ask what happened but also say that things can't continue like this (based on previous events if he denies this one).

MillyRules Wed 13-Nov-13 20:59:29

So were you actually there yesterday Glenshea when this happened?
If not you only have your sister in laws word for it. Why have you got so involved in their life if you don't mind me asking. If you weren't actually there when this row happened and you haven't seen the children being in a emotionally shocked state, how can you be sure that this was the case. I just think calling the social services when you only have your sister in laws word on this is not the right thing to do. Talk to them together first and explain how you feel and maybe some conclusion could be made.

Glenshee Wed 13-Nov-13 22:10:44

I talked to them both. DB refuses to discuss what happened yesterday, point blank. He says it's been the same for many years (probably true), and at this stage he doesn't know what to do to change it. He said he won't go to counseling because 'it's bad enough to not be shared with anyone outside the family'.

I stressed his responsibilities over children and that seemed to have sinked in. I think.



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