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My sister is in an abusive relationship

(14 Posts)
Jupitersmoon Fri 28-Nov-14 11:17:30

My sister recently had an affair with a man and divorced her husband (the father of her 2 children) to be with said man. It wasn't long after they'd got together that she told me that they were having some difficulties...heated arguments etc which has resulted in him calling her names- names that she couldn't bring herself to tell me. At this point I told her to end the relationship, but she decided that because it was a stressful time for them both that may be where the arguing had stemmed from and to give it another go.
Fast forward a year and there have been other rows that she has told me about and I've tried my best to convince her that she deserves better but ultimately I know she can only decide this when she believes it herself. Recently I received a phone call from her, absolutely hysterical, saying new man is aggressive and please will I go to her house. I go straight round and she's in tears (alone) and tells me that they argued a couple of nights ago which resulted in him grabbing her by the throat. It then comes out that a few months back when she broke her knee by 'tripping over the baby gate' she lied and it was actually caused by him pushing her mid-argument.
I brought her back to my house and me and my DH talked her through everything, DH convinced her contact the police which she did and told them everything. I felt like she could see things clearly. Then I find out the next day she went to meet him to talk things through. I was shocked and couldn't believe she wanted to hear what he had to say.
The police interviewed both of them but I don't know what was said, apparently an abuse officer was supposed to visit my sister but she says that never happened.
So now, she's back with him. She says that she has issues that I don't know about and that she pushes him in an argument by saying things to hurt/annoy him. I know her well and know she has a habit of throwing nasty comments in to a row but there's no excuse for violence. When she had her day of 'clarity' she told all the family including her ex what had happened. He doesn't know they are back together. She seems to think that in time we'll accept him in to our lives; she commented to my mum that Christmas 'may be too soon' for her to see him again- as if in a few months she will have forgiven/forgotten.
I feel helpless. I've tried to speak to her but she gets defensive. I know I should back off and let her come to her senses but it's so hard.
Sorry for the long post.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 28-Nov-14 11:25:11

If your sister has children and they are witnessing this abuse then please contact Child Protection or the NSPCC and act on their behalf. She may be choosing to stay in harm's way for various reasons, but she has no right to subject DCs to the same thing. Too many little ones murdered by violent men in exactly that set-up

Jupitersmoon Fri 28-Nov-14 11:48:31

They aren't living together and what what she's told me the violence has only occurred when the children have been with their father. I suspect when their father finds out that he's back on the scene he'll want to pursue custody. I just want her to find the strength to end things with him.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 28-Nov-14 11:52:57

You can't give someone strength to leave a cage, sadly. You can open the door and switch on the lights but they have to want to walk through.... I hope the DCs' father gets custody, quite honestly. They may not be living together but it's only a matter of time before the DCs are caught in the crossfire.

Jupitersmoon Fri 28-Nov-14 11:56:55

Thanks for taking the time to read and reply.

What do families of abuse victims do in these situations? She commented to my mum that I won't be able to see her children if I won't accept him as her partner but I honestly don't think I could bear to look at him never mind attend some family event and pretend that everything is ok.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 28-Nov-14 12:03:31

Families of abuse victims do what you're doing. They offer help, they get rejected, they scour the internet looking for ideas.... The official advice, if you read something like the Womens Aid website included things like this list of what not to say to someone. (The one applicable to you is 'don't give up on her if she goes back'. ) In addition there are suggestions to stay in touch, be a lifeline, not isolate the victim, make sure the abuser knows that the victim has friends who care...

I've walked (reluctantly) away from a victim of DV before now because I realised that the stress created was doing more harm to me than it was helping her. She didn't want to be rescued, there was nothing I could do and there came a point where I had to prioritise.

Windywinston Fri 28-Nov-14 12:05:29

OP I have been in your position, albeit thankfully there were no DCs. For very valid reasons (threats to my life) I had to cut contact for my own sake. She did leave eventually and we slowly rebuilt our relationship. I always regret not sticking around to support her, and often wonder if she would have left sooner if I had been a better person.

I really sympathise with you, but try to remember that when you're in your sister's position it's not always easy to walk away, there's likely to be emotional abuse too, which is aimed at denting self esteem to the point she won't leave. Please try to support her, constantly reaffirm the message that she deserves better and make it clear that she's in very clear danger of losing custody of her children if this continues.

It's only a matter of time before the DC are affected, if they haven't been already. Christ if I were their dad I'd be doing everything in my power to remove my DC from her custody and I suspect you're right, he will when he finds out. Just out of interest, why are you all keeping this a secret from him? Surely he has a right to know his children are in very real danger.

Jupitersmoon Fri 28-Nov-14 12:37:38

Cogito- thanks, I had actually seen that link already- as you say I have been scouring the internet for advice. It sounds awful but since all this came out I've distanced myself from her; mainly due to the fact that when I found out she'd met him I told her what I felt and she said I was being controlling/bossy which I know is the worst thing I can do to her in this situation. So I backed off.

Windy- there is plenty of emotional abuse. She's told me that he's worn her down, made her feel worthless. I think she's always had low self-esteem looking back but now it's obviously worse than ever. Despite telling me this, now it's like she's forgotten feeling like that and everything is ok again. With regards to her ex- we're not deliberately keeping it from him, I found out they were back together last week and haven't seen her since. I want to see her and speak to her face-to-face before I do anything that will compromise my relationship with her as if she found out I have contacted ex I'm sure she will be furious with me. It's just been texts/short phone conversations here and there so I need to have a proper chat with her. From what me and Mum can gather she's not spent much time with him since they've been back together and we don't think he's even seen her DC. She says she's "taking it slowly".

Windywinston Fri 28-Nov-14 13:12:38

Thanks for the clarification. Yes speak to her first, you don't want to do anything that risks putting distance between you and her right now.

As for the family seeing him, I see conflicting advice on how to deal with this and I'm still not sure. On the one hand, playing happy families can be seen as a validation by this man and your sister that everything is ok, on the other hand, saying something to him could see you being hurt or threatened (as happened to me) and will almost certainly lead to him stepping up attempts to remove you from their life, I.e. "See I told you they don't want you to be happy ...." Such a tough call, I really sympathise.

hellsbellsmelons Fri 28-Nov-14 14:50:26

I've been here too Jupiter
It is heart breaking.
But I just made sure I was around a lot.
That my family and I were always there for her.
We did put up with him for her sake.
Like a PP though there were no kids involved.
The times I would see her and she had tripped up the stairs or walked into a door all the cliches and I just had to let her know that I knew but it was up to her what to do.
She finally got her 'light bulb' moment and my husband (Ex now) and myself 'rescued' her.
He did an awful lot of damage. She was anorexic and emotionally just not right for a long time.
That was probably about 18 years ago and it's taken her this long to get into a good relationship. She was more than happy being single for a long time and taking what she could get.
I'd love to have an answer for you because the damage he is doing will take 10x longer to undo when it does finish.
It's heartbreaking and you feel sooo useless. But she is an adult and you have to let her get there by herself.

Jupitersmoon Fri 28-Nov-14 15:37:07

Hells- I'm pleased that your sister is finally in a good relationship. It's so sad that these men destroy women, it's comforting to know that people can come back from it, albeit slowly.

She's booked to go for counselling through her work in a few weeks so hopefully that will help her work through some things and maybe get through to her. He has also been on an anger management course, something that my sister thought would help stop his outbursts. I'm pretty certain that he needs more than a one-off anger management course. I just don't understand how she ended up in this situation. She has a great career, she's financially independent, great kids....

LineRunner Fri 28-Nov-14 15:49:23

I think it's very unlikely the DCs haven't met him, and at the very least seen the affect all this is having on their mother.

Jupitersmoon Fri 28-Nov-14 15:52:15

Sorry LineRunner, I wasn't clear in my post but I mean DCs haven't seen him since they've been back together (as far as I know)- which has been around 1 week.

LineRunner Fri 28-Nov-14 16:00:22

The DCs need protecting from this.

A friend's daughter is going through the same thing and it's horrendous.

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