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Think my sister is emotionally abusing our mum

(13 Posts)
ARV1981 Fri 16-Oct-15 08:12:13

I don't know how to handle this situation.

My sister is currently living with my mum (though she's soon to be moving away for a job), and I don't like the way she speaks to and treats my mum.

She's had a history of depression and fairy recently threatened suicide. The threats were to me and my mum. She's also pregnant, and, alone (which is scary enough, I know, but she's old enough to take responsibility for her actions). So my mum's scared to say anything when sister is rude to her.

I visited, spur of the moment, yesterday. I have a month old baby, and this was our first trip to visit my mum since the baby was born. Everything was going great - both mum and sister were loving the baby and cuddles etc.

Then my mum mentioned that she'd bought a lamp she needed help putting together. So sister says she'll help with that. I'm in the room, but breastfeeding so unable to offer any assistance whatsoever. Sister refused to read the instructions "I never bother!"

Of course, putting this bloody lamp together was quite tricky, and they really needed to have read the instructions... Sister managed to scratch the base of this lamp, which mum mentioned but sister didn't seem to acknowledge or care (she's cack-handedly forcing bits together with no care for the thing).

The thing that upset me so much was the way she spoke to mum - no respect for her. Both mum and I thought sister would "blow up" at various times - over a fucking lamp! We were both on eggshells, and I realised that I can leave. I don't have to stay in that situation, but mum does. She's so scared of "upsetting" sister and sister threatening suicide that she will put up with being spoken to like that.

How can I help my mum? Sister is not going to stay for long this time as she has a new job to go to, but they don't know about her pregnancy so I imagine she won't pass the probation period (she's around 21 weeks or so). If this happens she'll move back in with my mum and will rule over her like this, making my mum unhappy. I think she uses the suicide threats to control mum. But I'm too scared to test that theory. I don't know what to do for the best really.

I have serious reservations about how sister will cope with a baby. She told mum that she was moving back in with her to have the baby - didn't ask, told.

My mum is a fairly recent widow - dad died just over two years ago. So, mum's life has changed utterly and devastatingly, she needs to adjust to her new life, and was starting to by getting out more and being more social. But that will all change if sister moves back in and emotionally controls her.

I wish I knew what to do... any advice?

Arfarfanarf Fri 16-Oct-15 09:51:49

Really it's your mum that needs to be assertive. I realise that's difficult but unless your mum is able to stand up to her daughter, there's not much that realistically you can do.

For example, your mum could let your sister know that she can't move back in.

She could have said no, I want to look at the instructions. Stop. Put that down.

Your sister has become very used to controlling those around her because those around her have shown her that they will do what she says. If change is going to happen at this point, after however long of letting her have her own way and talk to everyone like shit, it's going to be painful all round! But change will involve allowing your sister to have her tantrum and make her threats and realise that she doesn't get her needs met that way.

If you feel that she will harm herself while pregnant or after the baby is born, then contact social services and ask for them to support her.

There is no hassle free, friendly, calm, reasonable and happy way to resolve this. But your mum's choices are stand firm and brave the storm, or continue to be crapped on. Support your mum to stand up to your sister. I think that's the most effective way to deal with it. Your sister isn't going to listen to you. You don't have the house she will want to live in or any other leverage.

shovetheholly Fri 16-Oct-15 10:06:36

I have a similar but slightly different situation - my 32 year old sister is exploiting my parents financially to a massive degree (she lives with them). She has a partner, a great job and a very, very healthy joint income, but she refuses to move out. There are two reasons: firstly, at home she gets a cooking/waiting/washing service all laid on, and secondly, she also refuses to live anywhere that isn't a mansion and the arrangement of living rent-free is allowing her to save to buy this outright. If the idea is raised that she could move out to an extremely nice but more normal house (which she could easily afford), she has an 'anxiety attack'.

My mother has MH problems and I believe these are being made significantly worse by the situation. She is depressed and increasingly erratic in her behaviour. My poor old Dad is lumbered with all of the manual labour of looking after everyone.

There is absolutely nothing I can do, because none of them will take a stand. My parents are in a bubble cannot see that the situation is doing them damage. They behave as though they are terrified to take action because of my sister's reaction. They should be enjoying retirement and building confidence to do their own thing in their 70s, and they are basically her skivvies. I've raised the issue with my sister, and she cut me out of her life completely - it was literally 'butt out, this is none of your business' and then they all went NC.

I think there comes a point where, heartrending though it is, you have to accept other people's grown-up choices, even though you can see that they're not right for anyone in the situation. It is very, very tough though when you can see the awful damage that those decisions are doing.

ARV1981 Fri 16-Oct-15 10:47:48

Thank you...

I know mum needs to be more assertive, I just wish there was a way I could help her with that. She doesn't seem to realise what's going on.

I tried speaking to her about it, but she was like a broken woman. She's still grieving the loss of my dad, which is understandable as they had 40+ years together.

So do you think the only thing I can do is wait for mum to get strong enough to stand up to her all the while my mum is getting weaker and weaker? It's horrible watching someone you love get abused in this way, especially when it's by someone else you love... I feel a bit tangled.

RiceCrispieTreats Fri 16-Oct-15 10:52:53

She's the only one who can stand up to your sister - it's not something you can do on her behalf: you can stand up to your sister when she does and says things that concern you, though.

However, you can try to get your Mum thinking about the situation differently: asking her open questions about how she feels about your sister living there, what she thinks about the prospect of her moving back in with a baby, how she feels about your sister ruining her lamp, etc. And validate her feelings if she expresses upset or discomfort.

But taking action is down to her.

msrisotto Fri 16-Oct-15 11:02:32

Yes I agree that it is really up to your mum, but presuming your sister is at least somewhat reasonable, could you talk with her about it? Not in a confrontational, accusatory way, but asking if everything is ok between her and your mum, you noticed this dynamic going on, what does your sister make of it etc?

Arfarfanarf Fri 16-Oct-15 14:06:02

No, not wait. Support. Talk to her about it. Help her to see your sisters actions for what they are.
You could always talk to your sister but from what you describe, you'd be wasting your breath. Couldn't hurt to try though.

ARV1981 Sat 17-Oct-15 09:31:37

Thank you all.

I am trying to be supportive, but I think half the problem is that mum doesn't want to be supported in this. She and sister have always been very close so I think she doesn't really see that there's a problem iyswim?

VocationalGoat Sat 17-Oct-15 09:42:30

Very difficult OP. The first thing that slapped me across the face was antenatal depression, often a precursor to post partum depression, which I had with DC2. I was an utter bitch to my poor, lovely, nearly grin perfect mum, who, like your mum, is a widow and still struggles 11 years on. I went through this 6 years ago and got treatment after the birth.
The bottom line is your sister's mental health needs some TLC. If this is unusual behaviour for her and out of character, then I'd give her a free pass and head towards the support of her GP (this will be hard because she will likely resist this). Is she going to be a single mum? Living with mum and expecting a child as a single mother is kind of soul destroying. Your sis has issues and needs help. Your poor mum is getting the brunt of her anger, which is so sad. But if your sis is by nature a good and kind person, she will be that person again.I haven't read all of the posts which I'll do now. flowers

VocationalGoat Sat 17-Oct-15 09:48:22

I can't reiterate enough that your sis needs help. She's desperately angry, the hormones don't help, and alone in her situation. The suicide threats are a cry for help and attention. She's trying to tell you she's empty and feeling hopeless. She is clearly transferring her anger and resentment to your mum. She's probably pretty bummed out with her life. But it's on her to make it better. Do you think you can reach her? Will she resist help? Could you support her and hold her hand as she talks to her GP?

ARV1981 Sat 17-Oct-15 13:09:33

Thank you, vocational.

I have tried to reach out to her. Mum made drs appointments for her (which to give her credit, she did go to), but the difficulty is is that she's moved back with mum (and is leaving again soon) so is between drs iyswim?

I think she needs counselling as I know she desperately wants this baby, but due to a previous loss (she had a stillborn baby a few years ago - absolutely devastating to go through, and yes I was with her the whole time, as was our mum) she's not keen on thinking too far ahead with this next one. This is completely understandable.

The baby was conceived during a ONS, which our other sister believes she orchestrated in order to have unprotected sex when at her most fertile... I'm not sure if this is true and I suppose if it is then that's a pretty low thing to do (but the man surely could put a condom on if he really doesn't want to make babies - which he clearly didn't want as he's blocked her from contacting him. She has left a message for him so he knows about the pregnancy). I don't know if this is the case, it's all conjecture. Sister denies that she deliberately got pregnant from a ONS, and I guess we have to believe her. In any case I don't think it makes any difference to the outcome.

I'll keep trying to get her to get help, which she clearly needs.

But, I don't want her destroying my mum's happiness (or semblance thereof). That's worrying me too.

Yes, we all lost dad, and believe me, it was / is devastating but it's my mum who feels it most. I think to some extent losing a parent is natural, but losing your life partner is worse.

Anyway, it's all mixed up. I wish there was an easy solution.

Suffice to say, the new baby will be much loved by at least one of it's aunties.

VocationalGoat Sat 17-Oct-15 22:35:39

flowers Goodness it's not going to be a quick solution ARV1981 and I am really sad reading your thread. You must feel powerless, broken-hearted, resentful, upset, all sorts of things... you're a great daughter. Your mum is so lucky to have your support.
Maybe when the baby arrives things will improve. I really hope that the love for this new little person will untie you all. The stillbirth would traumatise your sis of course, and she is in a bad situation. We're all allowed to have our dark periods in life. But at the end of the day, it doesn't excuse her behaviour towards your poor mum unless she actually makes a change for the better and puts things right. It's on her to do this... and it's so hard on you because you can only do so much. You can lead a horse to water, or in this case the GP, but you can't make them follow up with treatment/counselling. She has to really do that herself and I hope to heavens she does. Does she have insight into her behaviour at all? sad
Hugs to you ARV1981flowers

VocationalGoat Sat 17-Oct-15 22:37:01

untie? Oh dear! Talk about a Freudian slip! That was meant to say UNITE you all! So sorry!!

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