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Sinister BIL

(124 Posts)
Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 07:51:41

DM called me last night. She'd just got back from a visit to Dsis and it hadn't gone that well.
The problem is BIL. It is never comfortable in his company. When any of us visit, he stands at the doorway of whichever room we are in, leaning against the wall and glaring / scowling / looking thoroughly irritated to have one of us in his company, or worse under his roof.
He behaves slightly better when Dsis is in the room, but when she isn't, he gets worse. This time what happened was he refused to allow DM to have any food when everyone was gathered at the table for dinner. He just wouldn't serve her, even though he served everyone else (the children and himself) and he placed all the dishes out her reach. Without describing it all blow by blow, he basically went out of his way to humiliate DM in front of her grandchildren.
What is bothering me is that this isn't the first story like this DM has told me. She has felt intimidated by him before (e.g. the worst time was when he pushed his face up against hers and snarled at her).
I completely believe her.

It puts us off visiting Dsis. I haven't been in her home for three years, so i haven't seen her children in all that time (and she has seen mine). Every time, i think it would be nice to see her, I picture being in BIL's company for days (even 10 minutes is uncomfortable) and so I put it off for another six months. (However, I have about 30 years of experiences with him so I do know him).

Since DM called, i've been thinking about why he would behave the way he does. It was clear he wanted to cut Dsis off from her family as soon as they got married and bit, by bit, he's cut the interaction down to just the odd phone call. However, it seems to have stepped up again and I was trying to think why. Then it hit me: DM is getting old and frail. She's a widow. Soon she will need some support. Dsis would be the more obvious candidate to give this. So BIL is making sure DM doesn't want to move nearer to her DD.
That's just my theory.

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 07:55:15

Just to clarify - Dsis was in the kitchen when the dinner thing happened. By the time she came into the dining room, DM's dinner was lying on the table cloth where he'd dumped it (when he eventually served her - actually he threw it at her). DM thinks that Dsis assumes she had upended her plate or something else that made it an accident where DM had been clumsy.

Zaurak Tue 29-Mar-16 07:56:51

Or inheritance control?

Go see your dsis - by not doing so you are playing into his hands

Did any of you speak up for dm when he refused to serve her? If not, why not?

Is he violent?

Cabrinha Tue 29-Mar-16 07:59:38

I'm confused... is that a typo that she has seen your children? It reads more like you're saying you haven't seen hers or her for three years because he makes you uncomfortable.
I'm less intrested in your theory and more interested in why you haven't kept up your visiting when she appears to be vulnerable and in a terrible situation.

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:00:38

I wasn't there. She was alone visiting Dsis and her family (BIL and their children).

He's not violent as far as I know. Dsis is a very private person, but she's a very strong woman, so I do not think she'd stand for it.

nocabbageinmyeye Tue 29-Mar-16 08:00:42

So he basically threw your mother's dinner on the table and not one person showed enough of a reaction for your dsis to suss something has happened other than an accident your dm caused? What did your mother say to him? The children?

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:03:29

I'm more interested in why BIL is treating DM like this and whether or not she is safe visiting. Also what to do about it.

I want to tell Dsis about what happened, and some of the other stuff too. DM is dead against it because she thinks Dsis will be incredibly hurt.

Dsis and I saw each other last year, without our children or husbands. However, I haven't seen her children and she hasn't seen mine for years (I think its three years).

Cabrinha Tue 29-Mar-16 08:03:50

A very strong woman so she wouldn't stand for violence?
Oh dear.
You really don't know much about abuse.
Chances are he isn't violent because she knows not to step out of line know.
But plenty of "strong women" end up "standing for" violence in afraid.

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:06:15

I asked that question. I said surely the atmosphere must have been terrible when Dsis walked into the room.
When she arrived DM was using her fingers to scrape her food off the table and load into her plate. DM said nothing. She says she kept her head down because she was too embarrassed to look up. Dsis said nothing. Nor did BIL.
then they all started eating and a conversation started up that DM didn't join in.

Cabrinha Tue 29-Mar-16 08:06:35

Poor kids, that can watch dinner being thrown and be too cowed / normalised to react.
If my husband did that to my mother, when I returned my child would be wide eyed and talking about it.
I applaud your mother for still visiting when it must be so intimidating for her.

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:11:53

Her visits used to be monthly. Now they are down to every four - six months. It gets to the point that she runs out of excuses not to go, so she hopes BIL won't be around. Sometimes he stays away, but other times he changes his plans and appears halfway through the trip. Its his home, so DM can't exactly demand that he stay away.

ptumbi Tue 29-Mar-16 08:12:32

Sounds to me like your dmum and your sister have been cowed into silence, crushing it under the carpet, talking about something else.

And the kids too, I'm afraid.

You will need to talk to your sister.

goddessofsmallthings Tue 29-Mar-16 08:15:05

I agree with Cabrinha, and if he treats your dm in this disgraceful way I dread to think how he treats your dsis.

Why is it more likely that your elderly and frail dm would move nearer to your dsis than to you, and is it possible for you to ensure that she is never again in the presence of your hateful bil without you/your dh or other responsible relatives also being present?

If my dm was being treated in this truly appalling manner by anyone a bil, I'd be having serious words with him and with my dsis because what he's doing is elder abuse and it needs to stop NOW. .

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:19:59

I've stayed away for years, not through a decision to do it exactly. Its more that we live far apart and its uncomfortable being there. So my visits, and invitations, have become less and less frequent.
TBH I don't think about him very much at all. I call Dsis on her mobile (it was harder before everyone had a mobile and I had to call their home phone as he always answered). The only reason I started thinking about him and started putting it all together was when DM called me last night.

I've known BIl since he was at school. He was charming at first, but then I learned that he is only charming when he wants something and he decided a couple of decades ago that he had no further use for his wife's family.
He uses people and then discards them when they are of no further use to them. he seems to have no shame about this. Sometimes, I look at my sister and wonder what she thinks about some of the things he has done. Then time goes by and I put it out of my mind and get on with my life.
This is the first time, I've really given him some real thought.

Zaurak Tue 29-Mar-16 08:22:36

You need to step up, all of you, and support dsis and dm.

Her strength is irrelevant - plenty of violent men relish the chance to crush strong women. Being strong/educated/ intelligent doesn't mean you can't be a victim of dv.

Stop avoiding the house. Go and see dsis, support her. Talk to her. Make Bil see that you are all there, you won't be put off or intimidated and stand up for your mum! I'm aghast you aren't.

ptumbi Tue 29-Mar-16 08:23:02

Charone - your BIL is unllikely to be only doing this to your mum. Your sister is very very likely to be a target as well, constant. Doesn't mater how 'strong' she is, she will ground down, and trained to behave. Kids too.

Talk to her! If poss, get her to read MN! Get her to phone WA!

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:23:09

The reasons why DM wouldn't think to live near / with me:
DM hates where I live. She's made it clear 1000 times that she would never live in this part of the UK. On the other hand, DM likes where Dsis lives and she has some friends in that area. Also, Dsis is DM's favourite.

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:24:36

You think he is hitting Dsis? Why?

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:31:50

Maybe I should explain a bit more.
Dsis has a very odd relationship with BIL. She treats him like one fo the children. All of us have witnessed times when she has told him off for going too far. She honestly speaks to him like I do when one of my children misbehaves. There's no ranting and raving, she just tells him that he's wrong and to stop immediately. And he does - he goes off sulking like a naughty child who has just been caught in the act.
Also, when she's not at home, he phones to ask the most inane questions. He pretends that he can't make basic decisions eg should their toddler wear a hat and gloves or just a hat for his walk today. Stupid stuff like that. I can see Dsis struggling to not snap at him, but then sometimes she does.

Its because she is in charge of him (not exactly but you know what i mean) that i want to tell her what he has done, but DM is worried about hurting her and making her choose sides.

ptumbi Tue 29-Mar-16 08:36:39

You think he is hitting Dsis? Why? fgs, op, DV is not just hitting! It takes many forms, and emotional abuse is just as bad as physical.

He is obviously not 'under her control' if he is abusing your mother.

Talk to her! She may need to choose sides! She may want to! She may need an outside view on it. Your mother certainly needs help.

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:37:52

I feel really sorry for DM. She loves Dsis. Every present Dsis gives her is just the best thing she's ever received.
There's no way that DM will move to where dsis lives, but BIL probably doesn't know that she's already decided that she won't move there.

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:43:28

I thought you meant physical abuse.

Ok, so maybe you meant financial abuse?
Well he's proud of how tight he is, but Dsis earns way more than him and she's the one whose earnings are guaranteed as she's in a career, and doing so well, that she's more or less guaranteed a good job until she retires on a good pension.

Or emotional abuse? I doubt he loves her - or anyone except himself - but he still needs her so she's still on the charm offensive part of the curve. When he's done with her - if he's ever done with her - I do not doubt he'd drop her instantly and not glance back but I don't think she's ever worked that out. Anyway, i can see Dsis being useful for the rest of his life.

What other kinds of abuse are there?

ptumbi Tue 29-Mar-16 08:48:04

Ok, Op, I give up.

Your BIL is completely normal in the way he treats your mother. I'd leave them to it. Your sis is obviously in control, your mother unwilling to do anything to change the status quo. She must have done something to upset him.

All fine.

Except - maybe read up on abuse in its many forms.Read 'Why does he do that?' . Do the Freedom program - better still, get your sister to.

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:49:52

I guarantee that if I sat Dsis down and :-
told her about the stuff she doesn't know about.
Or reminded her about all the good friends he dropped when they weren't able to help him any more.
Or how he despises his own family but uses them mercilessly whenever he wants something.
Or point out how she kept him for years and still had the lion's share of the chidlcare and housework.
Or how manipulative he is.

If she heard me list all that, Dsis would cut herself off from me instantly. And then she'd call DM and tell her to not exaggerate and not tell me anything about her life.
In fact, what would happen is Dsis would break herself off from her family and then where would her support network be in 20 years time when she finally sees that she's been married to a sociopath for all her adult life?

Charone Tue 29-Mar-16 08:56:20

ptumbi - do me a favour and explain things to me, rather than scolding me for not seeing things. I admit I have not thought about this much. I've let myself be pushed away, without really realising it.
I don't want to abandon my sister, or leave my mother to her fate, but 12 hours ago is when this all started to dawn on me. Until then all I ever thought about with BIL was how black his stares are and how conversation with him is like pulling teeth. I knew i didn't enjoy his company. I knew DB had his first bad experience with him in the 1980s and has minimised his time with him ever since to the detriment of his relationship with Dsis.

But until last night, BIL was just someone I tried to avoid without telling Dsis that I'm being careful to avoid her DH as much as possible.

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