Anonymous asked this question on 4/7/2000:
Hi all, I have a problem and I would love some input from the experts here, before I totally lose my mind. Here's my situation; To be as brief as possible, I have a sister who is 10 years younger than me. Our mother was killed in a horrific car accident when I was 13 and my sister was only 3 years old. My sister is a very beautiful girl, just finishing her last year in college, very loving and giving, active in her church and community. Don't get me wrong, she is not a perfect angel, but she is a very good person, a person who always sees the good in everyone and would never harm anything or anyone. For the past year she has been dating a guy that seemed to be alright. Our father and our 4 brothers (all older than her), and I, thought he seemed like the average guy and didn't have a problem with him. One day she was mad at him and opened up to me and told me that he had been abusing her. The things she told me that he has done to her are some pretty serious things. Some made my stomach turn. Aside from the horrible physical abuse, he has her convinced that she is ugly and a total tramp and no one else will ever have her. He knows that I know what he has been up to, so he tries to keep her from spending any time with me. I was honestly sick after hearing about these terrible things that he has done to her. Believe me when I say the things he has done to her are sick and disgusting,(ranging from head-butting her trying to knock her unconcious to stomping on her face and stomach), and that's not even the worst of it. I was so angry at him and begged her to leave him alone. At the time she was mad at him and agreed to. She asked me to promise not to tell anyone. I knew that would be a promise I could never keep. Things like this HAVE to be talked about or someone could wind up getting killed. A couple of days later she was back with him and everything was lovey dovey again between them. She no longer wanted to talk about the abuse and even said that she wished she had never told me. She said that he is a great guy and she is going to marry him and he will get some help for his "little problem", and everything will be wonderful. I told my father and brothers. Their initial reaction was to go and phisically harm the guy. Then they decided that saying or doing anything would only push her closer to him. When I try to bring up the subject to her about leaving him, she clams up and gets mad and won't talk to me for days. I am convinced I need to keep the lines of communication open with her, so I have had to try and not say anything to her, but it is killing me to be quiet about this! I am angry that my father and brothers have not at least let the guy know that they know what he has been doing and voice their opinion on the matter. As time goes by, her boyfriend, when he is being good, helps her in many ways, does nice things for her and shows his better side around my family. I think my father and brothers think that I have exaggerated about how bad this guy is. I think they have the "he could be better, but he could be worse" attitude. This is really upsetting to me. I don't know how much longer I can just stand by and watch these things happen to her. When I try to say or do something about it, it just puts distance between us, and I don't want that because I love her with all my heart, she is my best friend. Something has got to be done about this situation before he kills her. I feel like climbing to the top of a mountain and screaming for help until someone hears me! My family is convinced that saying anything to her or her boyfriend will only push her that much closer to him. I don't know what to do. Can anyone help me?
miaphillips gave this response on 4/8/2000:
I agree with snowbird. Forcing the issue will only distance your sister further. I'm sad that you have to go thru this and even sadder that your sister is in this situation. But don't give up on her yet.
I was her a couple of months ago. It was my 4th abusive relationship (yup, I really know how to pick 'em!) and like that sad excuse of a man, my partner would be all lovey dovey one second and the next he would do a Jeckyll and Hyde and become the scariest monster on the planet.
I've always asserted that this type of abuse is perhaps one of the worst kind, because of the mind games it plays with your head. You don't know whether you're coming or going. The mental and verbal abuse that accompanies it is pretty much typical with this type of abuse, which is why so many abusive partners can get away with it. This is what gives them the power trip that they crave.
I've lost count of the number of people who tried to intervene and get me out. No, I didn't tell these people what was happening, they just figured it out for themselves.
Each time the physical abuse kicked in, I would be determined to leave and then sometimes I would, but I always went back because my partner would find me and come crying to me. Boy was I a sucker. I knew that he was a bad person, but like your sister, I was made to believe that I wasn't good enough for anyone else, and that I should be grateful that he took pity on me.
I would defend him to everyone who had tried to help me. I would say things like "he's not really that bad, I just make him angry all the time. If I just behave then he wouldn't get mad".
Whilst everything is o.k, there's nothing in the world that you can say to your sister that will bring her to her senses. But I can appreciate your anxiety and helplessness.
You're probably wondering how I got out of the relationship. Well, a friend of mine introduced me to a really, really nice guy and he was someone that I could relate to and talk to. Over time, he made me feel like I was worth something more than I thought I was.
It was because this guy helped me to get back my self esteem (the fact that he is drop dead gorgeous went a long way - because I just couldn't believe that someone like him would be interested in someone like me) that I was finally able to leave my abusive partner. Maybe you could try to set up the same thing with your sister - but tread very carefully.
I don't know whether this will give you any sort of insight, but I hope so. Your sister is obviously very much in love with this man, but more to the point, she depends on him for her stability and her self esteem (or lack thereof). But if truth be told, this bastard depends on her more than she does on him.
Could you write back to us and let us know how things go? I'm sure the others would be interested in knowing.
Good luck to you and especially to your sister. Mia
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Anonymous rated this answer a 5.
Thanks so much for your great advice. I am sorry that you have had to experience the sme thing. I have always thought that one thing I know would work would be if someone else would come along, another guy who she was attracted to, someone wonderful and sweet,then maybe she could move on. It seemed to have worked in your case. I hope it will for her. Thanks for your concern, and yes I will post again soon and let you know what has happened. Thanks again.