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Help sister won't leave abusive husband
October 12, 2008
10:01 am
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Forum Posts: -1
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September 24, 2010
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I've tried to help her for 5 years now. I offered her and her 2 children to come live with me and I would help her till she could get on her own 2 feet.She would call me and tell me Im leaving him today and she never does. It upsets my own family as we always prepare for her coming and she never does.This has been going on for over 5 years now and every week she calls me and says she's leaving him because he's abused her again sold their personal things for drug money and how her husband verbally abuses her son because he's white and the step father is african american. Now the white kid is now 15 and wanting to kick his butt because he's tired of the abuse himself. Now I asked my sister for her help for 1 week because of surgery I'll be having. She said IIm coming because my husband abused me for the last time. Now she calls me and says she can't leave this big mess. I feel betrayed. I know if she had come she wouldn't of went back. I don't think I can deal emotionally with her anymore. Any suggestions?

October 12, 2008
11:42 am
Forum Posts: 453
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September 30, 2010
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Diamond -

You can't help your sister. Next time she calls with -- yet another -- tale of abuse, give her the local DV (Domestic Violence) Hotline number and end the call. Tell her that they will help her...if she's really serious. Until then, you can't get involved.

She is very codependent. Even more tragically, her son is getting deeply wounded by his exposure to this highly toxic home scenario. Is there any way you can get Child Protective Services involved, to help him escape from that household?

My focus would be on helping your nephew...he is the real victim here. Your sister CHOOSES to remain in this abusive situation and will not exit, until she is ready. Hopefully, this will happen before she gets seriously injured. The thought of leaving her abuser is probably terrifying to her. However, she will have LESS motivation to leave him, if she is able to continue "venting" to you (and the rest of her family) each time this guy mistreats her. When she runs out of sympathetic audience, this may force her to "bottom out" and seek DV counseling and possible departure from the relationship.

I know this is hard for you, but you CANNOT "fix" her or help her, until she is ready. And the best way to do that is to step back and let her bottom out WITHOUT her family getting caught up in her turmoil.

- Ma Strong

October 12, 2008
3:04 pm
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September 24, 2010
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I disagree strongly with Ma on this issue.

There is absolutely no evidence to support the notion that your sister will be less likely to leave her husband if she has you or anyone else in her life to listen to her and support her.

The evidence suggests the opposite. The more resources a woman has socially and financially, the more likely she is to leave an abusive relationship. This has been documented many times over, try googling it. A link to one study is here:


It is normal for you to be frustrated by her behavior. It often takes many, many times of going back and forth before a woman finally gathers the strength to leave. You may find it exasperating, and you may need to practice detachment, in order to prevent your sister's problems from overtaking your life.

But you do not cause her to stay in the situation by being there for her. Being a sympathetic ear to a woman suffering from abuse is not the same as enabling a drug addict who needs to hit bottom.

It may help you to change your perspective. You can refuse to worry, and simply offer your support. Don't go to great lengths to make preparations. If she shows up one day, just let her in. This is detachment. Just one day at a time, not controlling the outcome, doing what seems right to you at the moment the action is required.

I would like to commend you for being there for your sis. You are doing the right thing, and it's not easy. Just remember to take care of yourself and your own life. Know that you can't make your sister leave before she's ready. But you can support her self-esteem, confidence, and help her to overcome the shame that prevents her from breaking out.

October 12, 2008
3:13 pm

Check out this link:


The book is To Be an Anchor in the Storm: A Guide for Families and Friends of Abused Women by Susan Brewster

This is an excellent resource which I highly recommend. Good luck with your sister... she *does* need you! And you can learn how to be an anchor in her storm without getting yourself pulled off course.

October 15, 2008
2:50 pm
Forum Posts: 6
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September 30, 2010
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((((Diamondeve))))~ I am sorry you are hurting right now over your sister's situation. I have to say that I agree with Ma Strong on this one. I too have dealt with a sister in an abusive situation. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do until she is really READY to make change and get out of it.
My sister used to call me all the time also. I got to the point where I would listen and not say anything anymore because I knew she wasn't ready to leave.

Eventually she did get out, but it had to be on her terms, when she was ready. There was absolutely nothing I could say or do to make her want to leave. I cannot control her, I could just be there when she needed an ear, or a shoulder, but honestly that gets old after awhile too. I know it's hard when it's family, but sometimes tough love is all you can do.

I hope that you can take care of yourself as well. I know how emotionally draining it all is. Just know that you cannot change her situation, or her mind. She has to want it.

I too am worried more about your nephew. Is there anything you can do or anyone you could talk to about getting him out of that house?

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