This is a personal story. I want to share this and, hopefully, relate to others who are dealing with a friend or family member who will not leave their abusive relationship.
For years, my sister-in-law has been in an abusive relationship. We never liked the guy because he was rude and a jerk to us for no reason, but she seemed happy so my husband didn’t say much about it.
Not long after they started dating, she had a black eye ‘from the car door’. My husband tried to tell her that she should look for someone better, but her need to have kids, combined with her mother’s support to go forward despite her unhappiness, trumped my husband’s pleas to find a relationship that actually made her happy.
Eight years and three kids later, she is still in the relationship as miserable as ever.
My husband only has his mother and her, but her husband’s family is huge, so they have had the final say in how her life has gone.
Holidays are spent with them, weekends are soaked up by their birthdays, births, funerals, and other engagements. And their shining example of how a woman is supposed to act has made my sister-in-law think that she is doing what a woman should do – behave, serve, and suffer.
Her relationship with my husband and her friends is gone because she is not allowed to visit us or spend time with them very often.
If she is not at work, she has to be home by 2 to cook for her husband – and she must have the house clean. No one is allowed to call her after 4 because her husband gets upset.
Over the last 8 years, she has aged 20 years physically.
Yet, everyone has stayed around willing to support her if she needs it.
She only opens up about how miserable she is once in a while. She has never told anyone about abuse, even though we have always thought it was going on.
Once a year, my husband goes to their house for the kid’s birthday party. Her friends and I used to go, but it was very uncomfortable and unwelcoming with her husband and his family there, so we stopped going.
My husband, being the kind soul that he is, continues to go despite how unwelcome he is made to feel. He goes for the kids.
He has noticed that her husband walks around with a wooden spoon attached to his belt as a threat to the kids, but he has never seen him use the spoon on them. (We assume he reserves that for when no one is around.)
Last month she found out her husband was cheating on her and for some reason she decided to share that information with all of us. She started to build a plan to get out of the relationship, and her friends and my husband were 100% behind her. They helped her collect the evidence, supported her, encouraged her, and stood by her every step of the way.
To our surprise, her husband’s sister and brother-in-law were also going to help her out. In fact, they were the ones who were going to be present when she confronted her husband about the cheating and told him she was leaving.
Last week she went out with her friends and decided to leave him the next day. That night her husband pulled a knife on her in front of the kids because the house was not clean, and she openly told all of us that information because, after all, she was leaving him the next day.
The next day came and she dropped her kids off at her mothers. Her kids also shared that information with my husband’s mother – and to our horror she laughed about it.
We started to worry about my sister-in-law and the kids being in the presence of her unsupporting and obviously mentally unstable mother, so we were deciding if we should offer for them to come to our house.
My husband phoned her during the morning and she said she was waiting for her brother-in-law to come and her husband to get back. She sounded sure that she was going to leave, and my husband was thrilled.
Unfortunately, it turned out that her husband’s sister and brother-in-law were there to support him, not her. They convinced her that staying was the best thing for her and the kids, and instead of going to her mother’s house as a strong, independent woman, she went to her mother’s house, picked up the kids, and went home to her abuser.
That was the point where we took our head out of the sand and decided to take action.
Child Protective Services has been called, and today is the day that they go to her house and do what they need to do. Our hope is that they protect those kids, because she can’t.
She has gone into denial and is acting as if life is great. She’s sent my husband a few pictures of her happy kids since she found out CPS was coming.
We don’t know if we will ever get to hear the truth about her marriage and her unhappiness again. That may have been the only chance we had.
Unfortunately, things may not work out so pretty from this moment forward, especially if her kids get taken away.
The point is that we can’t worry about her anymore or get upset about the whole situation. It affects my husband’s happiness on a huge level, and she’s made her choice to stay with her abusive husband. There’s not much more he or anyone else can do to help her. We’ve accepted the fact that things may never change.
To be continued…