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Tricky situation with brother and girlfriend

(66 Posts)
PikaWho Fri 24-Jul-15 14:13:53

Not too sure if I'm posting this in the right place.

My twin brother and I have always been really close and we've always been able to tell each other anything and everything but this is a whole new situation and I don't know how to approach it.

My brother met his girlfriend three years ago, she seemed nice at first but I didn't get a chance to spend much time with her. She would come out or round to our house and would feel ill or need to leave for something early. The times I did spend with her I noticed the way she spoke to my brother was at times quite rude, mean or sometimes aggressive. She used to take any opportunity to embarrass or humiliate him. I never mentioned anything because it wasn't my place to say.

They moved to another part of the country last year. My brother had a really good job here with a few good friends and he's now self employed and doesn't have any friends where he lives. He's told me that he sometimes feels really lonely but there's no one there for him to meet up with. He seems to have really changed and is now quite withdrawn and doesn't have much confidence any more. His girlfriend has a job and from what I see in Facebook quite a few friends in the area who she sees regularly and goes out without my brother quite a bit.

A few things have happened recently that are making me want to say something to him about the situation. Something more than "how are things?"

I had a baby four months ago. My brother came to visit and was really happy to see us. He spent a few days here without girlfriend who then came to visit. She refused to hold the baby (which is fine, I know not everyone likes babies!) but then said "Ugh, I really can't stand kids. Babies are even worse, they just scream and scream. Your one mightn't cry, but it still isn't cute enough to want to hold. Why not just get a dog instead?" I was a bit hurt by this so I did bring it up with my brother and he just brushed it off with you know what she's like. I asked if they ever talked about kids and he laughed it off saying she's not interested in anything like that. Fair enough, she doesn't want kids or like them but doesn't mean she has to insult my baby!

I asked him last month when he would next be visiting and he said he wasn't sure so I asked if we could come up for a few days to see him. He got really excited about this and began to plan a whole week of things to do. The next day I got a text saying it would be best to leave coming up for a while with the baby being so young as they have just got a dog. I said I was planning on staying in a hotel so wouldn't need to be around the dog and he then said that the girlfriend will have to check work if she can get time off and he'll let me know.

Another thing that happened was my brother's old boss contacted the girlfriend on Facebook (my brother deactivated his own but I have no idea why) and asked if she would ask him to give him a call about some work he had for him. From what he said, it looked like a good opportunity and meant that he'd be back here for a few days. I asked him a few days later about it, just in passing saying that I'd seen it on Facebook and it looked good. He had no idea what I was talking about and when I went on to her page I saw that the post had been deleted.

The final thing that has really got to me is that one of our best friends from school is moving away to Australia next month. We've planned to have a surprise party for him next weekend. It will be my first night out since having the baby so really looking forward to seeing all my friends. My brother suggested we hire out a room in a pub we used to all drink in and was really looking forward to coming. He called me this morning to let me know he can't make it. His girlfriend has booked a last minute holiday with girls from work, it was a really cheap deal that she couldn't say no to, now he needs to stay at home with the dog. He said he wanted to put them in a kennel for the weekend but the girlfriend hated that idea and it caused a big fight so to make life easier he's just going to stay at home.

I couldn't even talk to him about it, so I just said that it was a shame he'd be missing out on it but we can arrange something else whenever he's next free.

I know he needs to grow a pair and stand up to her, but I'm suspecting that she's been emotionally abusing him. He is a complete shadow of his old self and seems really unhappy. He's admitted once to me that he is not happy with the relationship but can't find a way to leave her. He said she makes him feel happy and then hate himself in the space of an hour sometimes but he knows she doesn't want him to be unhappy and that she's sorry when she makes him feel this way. He also told me that she hit him once after an argument and has thrown a plate at him but he knows she was sorry and he'd done something wrong so deserved it. I think he's scared to do anything or talk to her about how unhappy he is.

We're moving to a new house that has a converted garage and he could come and stay here if he needed to get away for a while. He'd find work in no time back here and I know his old boss would love to have him back.

How can I tell him that he needs to get out of this relationship? I know if it was the other way round and someone was treating me like that, someone would have already picked up on the signs that I was in an abusive relationship. He would have came and dragged me away if he had to and I want to do the same for him.

ShipShapeAhoy Fri 24-Jul-15 14:22:12

It does sound like he could be in an abusive relationship. My advice would be try and talk to him alone, without insulting her, as that could get him defensive. Let him know you are there for him and support him and you are worried he hasn't been himself lately.

I know this is nitpicking but I don't think saying "he needs to grow a pair" is really the right attitude to take when you suspect someone is suffering in this way.

I think if you go the relationship section you will get a lot more advice from wiser posters than me.

ImperialBlether Fri 24-Jul-15 14:23:29

I would take advantage of the fact that she's going away to arrange to see him. I know you want to go to the party but I think this takes priority.

It does sound like a classic case of emotional and physical abuse. Why don't you and your husband go to see him and talk to him about it? You could stay in a hotel. I'd be tempted to stage an intervention and tell him he was to pack his bags and come back with you. I feel really sorry for him and I hope he does take the opportunity to do a runner.

I doubt she would pursue him if he came down to your home; she feels more secure when he's away from you all, isn't she?

ShipShapeAhoy Fri 24-Jul-15 14:23:54

Also, what happened when he found out about the work situation and the deleted Facebook post? Did he confront her about that do you know?

ImperialBlether Fri 24-Jul-15 14:24:35

I agree - get this moved to Relationships.

He's very lucky to have a sister like you.

FortyCoats Fri 24-Jul-15 14:29:36

I'm not sure how easy it would be to drag someone from a relationship they haven't yet recognised is abusive, which by the sounds of things, this one definitely is!

I Have no idea the best way to deal with it but I wouldn't waste any time letting him know you were concerned and making sure he knew he had somewhere to stay.

Hard as it is for a woman to confide, it may be harder for a man.

I'm sure other posters will have the right advice.

PikaWho Fri 24-Jul-15 14:34:22

Imperial, my husband did suggest going up next weekend. But he thinks it might be better if he went alone and spoke to him so he didn't get embarrassed in front of me. They were friends from uni and used to live together so he thinks he might be able to get something out of him.

Ship, I asked him about the work thing and he said she'd forgot to mention it but it's not the right time for him to do that work.

Thank you both for the advice, how do I move this to relationships?

juneau Fri 24-Jul-15 14:35:25

Poor guy. I agree - you're his twin and the one he's most likely to open up to and share his problems with. I would make time to see him this weekend while she's not there and tell him what you've noticed and offer him help to get away and move back near his family and friends. It does sound like he's in an abusive and manipulative situation.

ShipShapeAhoy Fri 24-Jul-15 14:36:54

I think if you report your post you can write a comment asking for it to be moved.


juneau Fri 24-Jul-15 14:37:57

he thinks it might be better if he went alone and spoke to him

Yes! I think this might be the right thing. You DH can say 'Mate, we're really worried about you. What the hell is going on?' I reckon your DB would be more likely to open up to and take support from another bloke.

wafflyversatile Fri 24-Jul-15 14:55:17

Before he goes up read up about abusive relationships. Maybe start here:

Unfortunately a lot of literature assumes the abuser is male when it would be so easy to make it gender neutral. Some sites aimed at men.

I think also re- presenting situations during conversations to him might help. eg what would you say to Pika if she said I'd done this to her?

BeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 24-Jul-15 15:07:54

Hi everyone - we'll pop this over to Relationships now.

PikaWho Fri 24-Jul-15 15:09:05

Thanks June, I think it would be best for him to talk to my husband. One of the lads who we were planning next week with has been in touch saying he got a text off my brother about not coming and he wants to take the party to him instead.

Thank you Waffly, I'll have a look on those sites and maybe make a few bullet points with DH tonight about what he could say.

I know his girlfriend is working this weekend doing an over night shift so will be gone from tomorrow afternoon to Sunday afternoon, DH suggested going tomorrow instead. That way the dog won't be alone or give my brother an excuse to stay and take care of him until she gets back from holiday. We haven't moved yet but have a spare room he could stay in for now and I know he's only working from home next week so wouldn't need to cancel any meetings or anything.

lavenderhoney Fri 24-Jul-15 16:09:25

Get his old boss to contact him with a job offer. If you know this biss well enough to know that, contact your brother before and after - say he can stay with you during the week and the dog is not a problem. I have no idea either way but don't make the dog the decider.

Once he's with you, it will be easier for him to leave her, either a clean break or him becoming really crap and staying to help you - she won't like that and will threaten and posture. if he has a job and a place to stay and maybe a nice friend of yours popping round- and showing him a nice life- well, a few months with him and a dog is a small price to pay.

wafflyversatile Fri 24-Jul-15 16:18:49

Bear in mind that he simply may not be ready to leave yet. He may never be ready to leave. Try not to get impatient or wash your hands of him if he doesn't immediately see the light and take the decision to leave, or if he goes back. Get him to read the lists of red flags available and see if they resonate with him.

Good luck, and let us know how you get on.

wafflyversatile Fri 24-Jul-15 16:21:30

If possible the offer of a short term job could be useful but also remember that she won't give him up without a fight and be prepared to support him as she twists and turns in her responses to any attempts he makes to break free.

HPsauciness Fri 24-Jul-15 16:55:30

I had a male friend who acquired a girlfriend like this, jealous of others, limiting their time with family and friends. He spoke often about getting out, why it was like this and so on but never did anything. In the end they married and have been together probably a decade now. You cannot assume that just because you see it is wrong, he will do so, so whatever you do, I would do it in a way which gives him/you an out as my bet is he will continue the relationship for the time being at least, as he's not prepared to stand up to her or challenge her.

PikaWho Fri 24-Jul-15 20:28:39

Thanks everyone.

The dog is hers. It was her idea to get it but I think it's more of a power thing. Like she gets him to walk it and uses it as an excuse for him to stay at home. If he left I'm sure the dog would stay, I don't think he really likes it, he just knows that she won't take care of it.

Another friend contacted me and DH and suggested a bunch of us pop round tomorrow, put a pillowcase over his head, throw him in the car and drive him back. We're calling that Plan B for now.

I think DH is going to call him in the morning and say how worried we are and without saying leave her and live with us, he's going to let him know we would open our door for him whenever he needs us.

Our friends really are amazing. I've not told them about what I think is happening but I think after him cancelling next week because she's booked a holiday they've all had enough and realised how bad it is for him. There's a group of about eight of us, plus a few partners who have all been in touch with him today. Most have said that they're sorry he can't make it but are looking forward to seeing him when he's next up and trying to make plans with him, letting him know he has friends here. And then DH and other housemates from uni have been in touch too. I've been a bit upset about it this evening and cried a little bit. I feel so useless and would love to turn up early hours and drag him home!

Thanks for the advice everyone, it's really helped smile

SelfLoathing Sat 25-Jul-15 13:33:15

can't he get a dog sitter/friend to baby sit the dog that night?

textfan Sat 25-Jul-15 13:43:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

annettec01 Sat 25-Jul-15 14:19:45

Hope all goes well x

holeinmyheart Sat 25-Jul-15 15:40:18

Gosh don't I know this scene, but as a MIL and a sister in law.

I get on with my DILs, because I am aware I could lose one of my sons if I don't( some of my friends have) but I am definitely seen as a threat by one of them.
I would never offer any advice or call on my son and DIL or Brother without asking. It feels like permission.

I read MUmsnet to see what DILs are writing and I watch what I am saying ALL the time. I preface every word with ' what would you like to do DIL? would it be all right with you SIL?

It is literally hopeless if they are so control freaky and have got paranoid issues coming out of their ears.

I don't think you can do anything pika except suck it up. If you try and point out the truth AS YOU SEE IT, in my experience it falls on totally deaf ears.

When my cousin's son left his control freak wife, my dear cousin said to me ' I have got my son back! He is now married to someone who is lovely and now sees his own family frequently.

If your brother's partner gets a Whiff of what you are doing she will work tirelessly to destroy your relationship with your DB.

I don't know of any way to inject some backbone into him. He has to just realise it for himself, sadly.

Hissy Sat 25-Jul-15 16:39:16

Can we stop with the backbone/grow a pair shit?

This is not a failure of his, this is abuse and he is struggling to get out. The minor disclosures are mini cries for help, he wants somene to join the dots and help him get out, but he is scared.

Being scared is not a weakness when it's caused by the relentless and unremitting abuse and conditioning.

I think the DH going up is a good idea. I think taking the part to him is a good idea, with lots of male support and acknowledgment of the situation he's in, without judgement.

It is so hard for any victim of domestic abuse to raise their heads above the parapets, in my opinion it's perceptibly harder for men as they are supposed to be tough and strong and manly. Being abused as a man strikes right at the manly core, weakening and dis empowering them in a far more effective manner than for women.

He needs reassurance, not being told to "man up"

Hissy Sat 25-Jul-15 16:40:37

Don't discard plan b either eh op. grin

textfan Sun 26-Jul-15 00:18:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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