So the thing I have avoided talking about, thinking about the source of a lot of my anger in the last month or so…
My sister told me early this month that her husband had smashed his head through their bedroom door because he was angry, telling her that “it had been a choice of his head or hers” and that he had decided his head was the better choice. He’s always been violent and broken things. Years ago, my Husband and I shared a house with them when they were first married (They married two years into their relationship, 11 ish years ago – we married eight years into our relationship, eight years ago). I vividly remember one time when My Husband was working away for a month – i hear my sister and her husband fighting, tried not to, and then heard something break. So I went to investigate, and found a chair shattered, and my sister cleaning up. In a fit of rage, her husband had broken a chair. I thought that was unacceptable at the time, but didn’t read too much into it. I, We, grew up with a father who, although he had a lot of redeeming qualities, had a temper, and occasionally lashed out and damaged things and on very rare occasions us, so it wasn’t outside my, or her, experience of normal (I would have been 20 or 21, she would have been 23-24). Over the years, she mentioned an occasional violent outburst, but it was rare, and around the time my younger niece was born, 7.5 years ago, I was under the impression that he had stopped his outbursts and seen them for the inappropriate behaviours they were – especially where his children were concerned.
So fast forward to this month. Finding out that my brother in law has been increasingly violent and breaking things on an increasingly frequent basis. It culminated in that fight I mentioned above – him shoving his head through the door – twice. Did I mention that my 4.5 year old nephew was on the other side of the door?
I’m torn as to what to do. As i’m older and wiser, I recognize that a lot of the things I accepted as normal as a child were, in fact, abusive. I think my parents did the best they could, but that’s what happens when people have children in their early 20s- they don’t get the chance to be fully formed adults and they have the learn on the job. Dad slapped me once, when I was about 9, and he looked so ashamed. It was a one time event, but he hit me so hard I dropped to the floor, and he looked so ashamed.
I am afraid for the wellbeing of my sister, my niece, and my nephew. I am worried about their long term happiness, and the volatile quality of my brother in laws temper. I want to believe that he is capable of changing, but from the moment he threatened my sister, he lost all positive interactions I have tried to send his way.
I do not believe he will hurt my family. I also no longer consider him among that membership.
Abuse is no small thing, and I worry about my Munchkins future. If we do get to have children, we have known for years that we would never leave them alone with the brother in law – he can’t be trusted. But how long is it going to take for my sister to see that?