*This was written by my sister after I escaped my monster. I kept it true to form only editing out our names and some personal information. – X, CK
My Abusive Brother-in-Law
I have never had a panic attack before. Not until my brother-in-law gave me one. It started because I was visiting in February. I planned a whole trip from states away to surprise my sister and provide support of her big night at work. I should have known something was up because he acted surprised and annoyed when I called and asked if everything was set for my arrival even though I had set it up with him weeks in advance. I arrived and “big shock”, everything he said he would do, he didn’t. I ended up getting stuck taking care of all the kids (her 3 and my 1) before I could go surprise my sister. I planned to be there the whole day of her festival and had everything planned out with the kids and he suddenly threw a fit saying no. He said he was busy even though this was something that should have been important and had been scheduled. He suddenly just couldn’t make it work.
For the week I was there, I unexpectedly took care of all the kids most of the time. I was stuck working out a schedule and not getting to be there for my sister. I realized I had to make a plan to take care of all the kids because my brother-in-law could not care less and he threw a fit about being bothered with them. He made no effort to help me but then wanted final say over it all. He was angry because I was doing what the kids wanted by taking them to their favorite sitter while I donated my time to the school taking free pictures. At this point, my sister had been working overtime and had asked if I would take care of the kids until my brother-in-law got home. He, however, would come home and immediately go downstairs and open a beer. This was normal for him every time I visited. He did not once in the period I was there ask about his kids in the evening and would multiple times get up and leave the house without asking if I minded watching them. This was something that was not surprising seeing how this was a normal thing when I would come to visit. If my sister wasn’t taking care of the kids, he would unload them on anyone close by without a thought.
My brother-in-law started getting angry with me because of the schedule I had worked out for the week even though we had talked about it long before I arrived. At the time, my sister and him were utilizing two different sitters. I preferred one and she had openings where the other sitter did not and so I decided to take my son so that he could be with his cousins to the one with an opening for all of them. However, the other sitter was getting paid whether the kids attended or not. My sister’s oldest said he wanted to go to one where as her youngest wanted to go with my son. I was the one paying for the time that the boys would go to the other sitters and I decided instead of forcing my older nephew and paying for him, I would drop them off where they wanted and it could be done. My brother-in-law threw a fit saying I was separating the boys. He then got in my nephews face yelling at him and threatening him, “YOU WON’T BE WITH YOUR BROTHER, you’ll be all alone.” Saying this mantra over and over into a 4 year olds face. My nephew calmly said, “I don’t care” and his brother agreed. My brother-in-law then said, “Fine, you’re going to regret it, you’ll be all alone, then be alone.” Then he disappeared and nothing more was said about it.
Because of that statement, the next day I kept the schedule I planned. I found out later that my brother-in-law had called to check up that I followed his schedule. When I got home he cornered me in the kitchen and started raging at me saying, “YOU DEFIED MY WISHES.” I responded, “You told him that if he really wanted it then fine, he could be alone at the sitter of his choice.” To which my brother-in-law responded to me, “You were supposed to do what I said, not what I told him.” I countered with, “So you wanted me to be the bad guy after you told him he could have what he wanted and you didn’t tell me that? You just left, so how was I supposed to know?” He then started saying other things and though I was angry and could have continued to fight my case more, my niece came into the kitchen. So I just apologized and no surprise, he once again left me with the kids and didn’t come home until late that night (like 1 am or so).
Which begs the question, where does a man that has kids and a wife go until 1-2 am during a weekday? Especially knowing his wife was working overtime and had a student who was giving a baby up for an adoption and needed help. I didn’t mind helping her out because she actually asked me if I would watch the kids so she could help this girl out who was making a huge decision. The night he gave me a panic attack, I was supposed to leave and take the kids to my parents house and give my sister and brother-in-law some alone time. This had also been planned in advance. After doing everyone ‘s laundry, including his, he told that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to take the kids. My sister said she would talk to him and fearfully asked if I would please not say anything to anyone.
I had already arranged the car seats and had everything ready in my car and the kids were excited to go the next morning. That night, I had just put all the kids to bed when my brother-in-law came home in a rage. At this point, the kids were still awake and could hear him screaming into the phone at my sister who was at the hospital with the young girl. He yelled, “IF you let her take those kids to your parents, I will call the cops, do you fucking hear me? I’ll call the cops on you! I’ll tell them you stole the kids!” The abuse went on and on. He then told her, “I’m coming to get your car and I will take the kids to the sitter tomorrow and you better be there OR ELSE!” He mentioned the “or else” several times and until much later when my sister finally admitted the abuse, I didn’t understand the severity of it. During this time, before he left the house again to God knows where, he came in and informed me I would not be taking the kids anywhere and yelled at me about defying him. Then in an eerie voice, he told me, “next time, follow my orders” and stormed out. Once again leaving the kids with me without asking or a forethought. I ended up going into my nieces room (she was 10) first and she was huddled under the covers holding her tablet and shaking. I gave her a big hug and told her it was okay and that he was just angry and that it would be okay and if she needed me just call. Then I went into the boys room (they were 3 and 4) where both of them started crying about wanting to go to their grandparents. They were crying about how their daddy was mean and asking me why he yelling at mommy.
I laid with the boys until they fell asleep and then checked on niece again (who was still awake). At that point, my brother-in-law came home and slammed the doors, then came and asked me where my keys were. Honestly, I couldn’t attest to the fact that he was sober and he was scary and on a mission. I remember calling my husband once he did go back downstairs and told him I didn’t feel safe and saying if it wasn’t for the kids I would leave right then. I said “I’m afraid he’s going to come back up here and rage at me some more.” I’ve been yelled at before but the way he did it, where he stared and got right in your face and said awful things all while the kids were able to hear, I couldn’t handle it. I felt trapped because I didn’t want to subject the kids to it but just wanted it to end. The next day I got up early and waited for my sister to come home and then left to go to my parents.
After that night, I didn’t visit again by myself, or if I did, I made sure I wouldn’t be alone with my brother-in-law. I know now that I had a valid reason for my fears. I can say that there was so many occasions where my sister refused to fight in front of the kids and he didn’t care or used that to his advantage to get her to agree or back down. So many occasions where my sister would ask him if he could take a child to the doctor, or stay home, or help out and he “had no time”. But he had time to go out to the bars, have dinners with his friends, and play trivia weekly.
At a different time, my brother-in-law also threatened me when his mom was visiting. He thought I was being impolite to her when I came in to the room and addressed everyone with a general “hello”. He told me that it was offensive to his mother because I didn’t address her directly and say hello, and how dare I insult his mom and if I did anything like that again or if I couldn’t be respectful I was not welcome in his home.
Another time, I went on a road trip home to my parents with sister and brother-in-law. In the car, he asked my sister to set up a time to see some friends of theirs and she said she would take care of it. When we got home, she set up the time and when she told him the plans, he threw a fit about it and refused to see them. On the way back home, he yelled at her about going behind his back and setting up things and how he just wanted to relax and so forth. When I jumped in to defend my sister and what I thought would defuse the fight by saying, “You did ask her to set something up in the car on the way and she only did what you asked”, he got very angry and told me that it was between my sister and him. He told me that if I ever got involved when he was telling her something again, I would not be allowed to come back.
Those are only two instances that seem insignificant but put together with the abuse become tactics to control my sister and those around him. He continued to do things like this until I watched my sister became a woman who barely slept taking care of all of his demands. I still have no idea how she lived like she did to this day. She worked full time, took care of the kids, took care of the household, and did everything. She was the one who did the cleaning and cooking and not only that, but it had to be done to his specifications. She would get in trouble if it wasn’t up to par. If I tried to help, he would tell her that she needed to tell me to back off because I allowed her to be lazy. Over the years, I kept asking her why she didn’t just say no or why she didn’t set boundaries and she would just look at me sadly and then defend him. But, once again, it makes sense. I will attest to the fact as a character witness that I believe she was abused, and I did witness some extent of that abuse in the verbal form time and time again.