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I think my cousin is abusing his wife

(29 Posts)
Notaclevercloggs Sat 23-Aug-14 09:10:52

I've name changed. I need to know what I can do about this situation. I'm worried for her safety. I'll be as brief as I can.

I'm Irish and live in England, cousin and wife are in Ireland. She had a baby the same week I did so we keep in touch and when I'm home I always go to see her and our DDs get along well. She's a lovely, gentle woman. I'm going back next week.

My cousin has always been volatile. More so after drinking. His family are afraid of him and I don't think anyone's ever pulled him up on his behaviour which includes smashing up his parent's home and starting fights in bars.

Now he's married with two children. Her family are a four hour flight away. Things I've noticed:

She had a burn on her arm that she said was steam from the kettle. It wasn't a scald and it was the same size as a cigarette burn.

She no longer has a mobile phone. She says it has broken.

The TV was smashed and she said the 2 yo did it.

He swears at her in public.

He found a stash of coins in the garage and thought it was the previous owners. I think it was her escape money as when he showed it to me the coins were dated after they moved in. He's too thick to figure this out. It was about £80-100.

Her MIL doesn't like her because she breastfed and cosleeps. She told my mum that this was weird and she was overprotective and she couldn't stand her. MIL drank heavily through her pregnancy and saw nothing wrong with this. MIL also volatile and would start a fight in a field of cows.

She never has any money for days out. Last time I took her and the kids swimming. She's a SAHM and I think he controls every last penny. He always has plenty of fags and booze and the kids have lots of toys etc but they never go anywhere.

Last weekend the PILS, her SIL and her H went for a long boozy weekend and left her on her own. She told my mum that her and the kids coming along would never happen. They don't get holidays.

She has to have his dinner waiting for him. Even on the hottest day of the year he wanted his usual spuds and meat.

He swears at the eldest DD. Younger DD is a carbon copy of him and elder is like her. He dotes on younger DD.

So, what I'd like advice on is how do I approach her about all of this? She's so isolated. I could post ten more pages of his disturbing behaviour but this is the main points. I know he's an arsehole but if he's physically hurting her now too then it's escalating into God knows what. I want to help her.


pictish Sat 23-Aug-14 09:17:05

Well he's already abusing her I think. He doesn't need to hit her to be guilty of that.

I don't know what you can do. Would you be willing to broach her about this? Would she be open to a sympathetic ear on her side?

It does sound ghastly, and I have no doubt you're quite correct in your assessment of the situation.

sonjadog Sat 23-Aug-14 09:21:01

Could you ask her outright? If she is storing money away, maybe she is looking for a way out?

MissMarplesBloomers Sat 23-Aug-14 09:24:59

All you can do is let her know, next week when you visit, that there is way out. If she is trying to hide money that is a sign she wants out, I would think.

Is there an Irish equivalent of Womens Aid? Could she get away next time the family go off on a boozy w/e?

Notaclevercloggs Sat 23-Aug-14 09:26:04

Sorry- when I said abusing I should have clarified 'physically'. I am certain he is emotionally abusive.

We are friendly but not confidants IYSWIM. But I want to be able to offer her the chance to tell me what's happening and for me to help her get help regarding women's aid etc. at the same time I don't want to frighten her.

His family are beyond the pale. They taunted her when she was pregnant for being 'fat'. MIL and SIL live on fags and Budweiser and have food issues.

So she can't go to them. My mum is also noticing odd things so I've spoken to her about it too.

What we can't do is do nothing.

petalsandstars Sat 23-Aug-14 09:31:57

If you could afford to help her get away let her know its an option - even if its sold as a break for her and the dcs to England perhaps.

sonjadog Sat 23-Aug-14 09:35:53

I would ask her, even if you are confidants from before. It isn't an easy topic to take up with a friend either so I'd just take the plunge if I were you. I doubt you'll frighten her, but if she denies it or doesn't want to talk about it, then I'd leave it. She may not have anyone close to turn to and be desperate for someone on her side.

Gileswithachainsaw Sat 23-Aug-14 09:36:06

Sounds awful sad

Agree if you can afford to then arrange a trip to stay with you or nearby and spend it helping her find out what her rights are and what benefits and housing options she has to get away from him.

Notaclevercloggs Sat 23-Aug-14 09:37:10

I did think about giving her some money. Maybe encouraging her to open a basic post office account in her name. But she needs more than cash as she's just worn down by that excuse for a human being.

Thanks for the posts. No one has said I should back off and mind my own so that's encouraging!

Ledkr Sat 23-Aug-14 09:37:39

Ok so having been in a very violent relationship some years ago I think I can answer this.

People help but when you go back or stay with the abuser they get fed up and give up on you. This isolates you further.

My step mother said this to me.

"I know you will keep going back to him but I will always be here for when you leave him, then if you go back one hundred times I will still help you when you need me"

It gave me the safe haven and the power that gave me to eventually leave for good.

I'd cryptically say that if she ever needs your help you will be there for her and repeat often.
Tell her she can be honest with you and you will make no judgements or force her to do anything she doesn't want to.

There is power in someone knowing the truth.

Notaclevercloggs Sat 23-Aug-14 09:38:25

He would NEVER let her come to England without him. I know that much. It would have to be a flit.

ThirdPoliceman Sat 23-Aug-14 09:45:02

Is she Polish or Lithuanian? Could she contact someone from her own community or family for support? Where in Ireland is she? I am in the west, anywhere near me?

Notaclevercloggs Sat 23-Aug-14 09:46:27

Thank you Ledkr
I like that suggestion. I don't for one minute think she'll tell me everything but if she knows someone (my mum too and at least she's physically there) is on her side then she might have more confidence that there's a way out.

Notaclevercloggs Sat 23-Aug-14 09:49:21

third thank you- she is Eastern European and is north west. He isolated her from all her friends in Ireland. Prick. She doesn't see anyone apart from him, the kids, her SIL and PILs. She is still in touch with family at home and goes once a year but he's never let her go without him.

MissMarplesBloomers Sat 23-Aug-14 09:53:59

Could your mum open a basic account for her & keep it, so there is nothing with Cousins name on in the house in case He finds it. ? Then she could restart her escape fund.

ChasedByBees Sat 23-Aug-14 09:58:12

I think if let her know that she would have a safe haven in the event of a flit and help her organise practicalities. Store some money for her to replace her escape fund. She is obviously thinking of leaving and scared of the future.

You're a lovely friend thanks

Iloveweetos Sat 23-Aug-14 10:03:47

I agree with everyone above. Especially about opening the account in either yours or your mums name. It will make it worse if he find out she has a secret one. They all sound horrid

HumblePieMonster Sat 23-Aug-14 10:06:20

Open an account for her, put money in it, tell her she can withdraw at the bank if she has id with her.

Does she have a passport? She needs to be ready to go. Would she get emergency housing if she came over here?

sonjadog Sat 23-Aug-14 10:06:38

Sounds like you are getting a good plan together. I hope she opens up to you and you can help her. Poor woman.

Notaclevercloggs Sat 23-Aug-14 10:07:49

Thanks everyone. The support is so welcome. smile

I've sent this thread to my mum so will discuss with her the next steps to take.

The fag burn was the final straw for me.

Staywithme Sat 23-Aug-14 10:10:45

She may be afraid to confide in you in the mistaken belief that because you are his cousin, you will side with him. As you explained, his family is being nasty to her too. You need to let her know that her safety is your main concern and that you know he has a volatile history. The poor girl is lucky to have someone look out for her and I hope things work out for her.

Notaclevercloggs Sat 23-Aug-14 10:11:46

humble they all have passports. I have no room for anything longer than a week or so but she would be entitled to emergency accommodation. I doubt this would happen. I think we'll start by assessing her options in Ireland.

LadyLuck10 Sat 23-Aug-14 11:56:41

Op what a lovely il you are to her. I think have a chat with her, take her out somewhere and let her know that she can trust and confide in you.
In the mean time please look at what resources are available to her and get all the info ready for when you see her. Having a plan might make her feel safe and confident enough to do something about her situation.
It does seem like she is being abused sad

Notaclevercloggs Sat 23-Aug-14 12:35:36

Thank you all for this invaluable advice for an upsetting and delicate situation. I don't think I'm anything special regards being a good friend, but I know in Ireland, historically domestic abuse was covered up by families and this caused years of hurt for so many people. I don't think I'd be a good woman or human for that matter if I didn't try and help her.

My mum says you're all so wise smile

She said she's happy to open a cash card account in her name and we can offer it to my cousin's wife as a better place to hide her money than the garage.

I'm going to change back to my usual name now. I'll update this thread in a few weeks and let you know how it went.

Thank you so much. cakeflowers

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sat 23-Aug-14 14:46:43

Angel, I don't think you need to press her to confide in you. Just TELL her that you know her life with your cousin is unspeakably awful. That she has a bolt-hole for her and the kids whenever she needs one. Next week, next year, any time, day or night.

Is there such a thing as Womens Aid in the Republic? Any expat organisations you might be able to contact on her behalf considering she has no mobile phone? Someone could buy a PAYG mobile with some money on it hidden somewhere for an emergency?

What would be ideal is that she makes a bid for freedom while you are there.

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