Ask Allison: My sister went back to her abusive husband and I feel betrayed. What should I do?
Question: I have a very close relationship with one of my sisters and we confide a lot. She had a fractured relationship with her husband and described the behavior to me as boundary abuse. She dumped him a few months ago and stayed with me and it was all about how controlling and rude he was towards her and their now grown kids. Now she tells me they are getting back together and she wants me to support her. She would go crazy if I told her and expect me to act like she didn’t tell me. She’s even talking about renewing her vows. I feel so betrayed and to be honest, I feel like washing hands with her completely. Can you help?
Allison replied: Your close relationship with your sister is the lifeline and anchor she needs right now. Instead of washing her hands, I gently recommend rolling up your sleeves and moving on as you’ve always done. I can imagine how frustrated and sad you must be at what is happening before your eyes. She’s so lucky to have a sister like you, the important thing is that she sees what a healthy relationship is like. Something she knows she can turn to when she needs to, and I imagine she will.
A healthy relationship of support, non-judgment, and safe boundary modeling is required. Providing that support is like a lifeline that she can see and reach when the next cycle of emotional storms pushes her out of her relationship boat.
Being supportive doesn’t mean you have to commit blindly and turn a blind eye to what you know, but take a step back to realize that it wasn’t your betrayal but hers. , even though I know you’re feeling betrayed now. Watching your sister betray herself is hard to accept when you see her willingly getting back into a destructive relationship. Here’s the thing, you are objective when you are reviewing and with confidential information. It can be extremely frustrating trying to understand the incomprehensible thing that has made things worse when you care deeply about your sister.
I cannot overestimate the importance of working through your understandable frustrations and getting plenty of support for yourself and sourcing information around misconceptions about why. Why do people stay in abusive relationships.
* I don’t know if this is an abusive relationship, however, I should know how to support anyone in an abusive relationship.
Treat your sister’s relationship model like an old pair of shoes, and even if she knows they’re harmful and unhelpful when they slip back, you still have a deep sense of comfort. It’s not just the comfort of the familiar, there’s also ‘comfort’ on a deeper level where unhealthy and dysfunctional patterns exist that require a lot of support from the family. , friends and therapy. This does not detract from your sister in any way. What it needs to unravel is that there is an unhealthy and or destructive pull back together, with ups and downs like breakups and then the possibility of re-establishing marriage vows.
As a society, we need to better understand domestic abuse in all its forms of verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, financial and/or coercive control. The Women’s Aid website is full of helpful information and specific help on how to help someone you know.
Breaking down misconceptions will help keep those important lines of communication open, and providing understanding will help build tolerance for the frustration of looking at and being silenced by your sister. quiet.
The help you can give is listening and this is harder than you think. Listen without showing judgment and criticism.
Even though your sister isn’t listening to whatever rationality you’re saying, that’s because she’s gone back to believing that if they resumed their vows, things would be different. It’s perhaps the most dangerous trick in a dysfunctional and or abusive relationship – they pull them back with great gestures and even public declarations of their love.
It is the promise of future love, attached to when they first connected in the past.
It’s a dangerous bond and especially hard to break, even more so if there’s bound to be trauma that brings them back together.
When it comes to relationships, it’s never as easy as ‘if only they left them’ or other predestined relationships that make sense on paper but turn out differently in life.
The danger is incalculable when the ‘honeymoon phase’ disappears for a few months behind closed doors and you may find it difficult to reach for a safety buoy when you feel judged.
Listen with an open heart so that you will be the person your sister believes in and will turn to without the burden of shame when it doesn’t work out again and the horrible feeling of knowing ‘I told you. so with you’.
The choices offered are based on an understanding of the complexity of dysfunctional and abusive relationships.
Be mindful of your own judgment as she will be sensitive and will absorb it from you even if you are not direct.
Don’t criticize him, this can draw them closer together in a ‘us against the world’ scenario and isolate her.
You can be honest and say that you’re worried about her and that you’re always there for her. The most important word in that sentence is ‘and’.
You can provide her with links to the Women’s Aid Institute and services in a way that can lead to a conversation about making a safety plan.
Allison regrets that she was unable to participate in the correspondence. If you have questions you would like addressed in this column, please email email@example.com. If you or anyone you know has been affected by the issues discussed, you can seek help from the 24-hour Women’s Aid toll-free line: 1800 341 900 or whatwouldyoudo.ie
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