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Toxic family member.

Community Member

Hi all,

I've been living with high anxiety and depression for a long time now 5+ years. This is from many things and I'm currently being treated by my GP. I'll try keep this as short as possible. I'm currently dealing with my sister in law and her new bf. I'm in need of some advice! As this is affecting me bad on top of other things.

Now quick history on her. She has 4 kids and is a single mum with their dad in a diffrent state. Over the 8 years I've been with my wife we are her as we say "clean up crew". This is from many messy relationships she has had (don't get me wrong domestic violence sickness me, there's no excuse!). But once again we are in the same situation with her new bf. When this happens and now is no different, she can't see it and she gets very spiteful and defensive. To the point where we didn't see her kids or her for nearly 2 years.

Ok my problem now! My wife was verbally abused by her bf while i was absent. This has made me absolutely sick to my stomach that she coped these threats and her sister hasn't got a problem with this.

Normally I would stand up for my wife and also probably done "reprimanding". But here is where my problem is I can't say a thing to him or about it. As if I did it would cause a family fight and she wouldn't let us or the grandparents see her kids again. Yes she has this before!

Myself personally would be upset as I've been a uncle/dad to them their whole lives. More devastated would be my wife's parents, the grandparents who would suffer too. As we have a granny flat at our house that they are staying in currently. She unfortunately uses the kids as black mail to get her way!

As I husband I feel absolutely powerless to protect my wife. As I have to welcome her and her bf into my house so the grandparents can see their grandchildren! I can't do or say anything out of fear they will take the kids away from them again.

I don't want be the cause of the shockwave that would happen if I said that he was not welcome here anymore. As he is very controlling of her and he would do it out of spite.

I just don't know what to do?

It gives me great anxiety when I know they are coming over!

Will I not be there if he gets violent again?

Thanks for listening to my vent! Any advice would be much appreciated.


5 Replies 5

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Chris,

What a horrible situation to be in.

You talk about the bf being violent. Are the kids safe??

I wonder is it worth seeking legal advice or calling one of the child protection helplines for advice?

I don't think it is reasonable to allow this man to keep getting away with abuse. If your sister in law accepts it that's her problem but the children are a different story altogether and so is your wife.

If she runs away again and keeps the kids from you do the kids have a way to contact you for help? Have they disclosed at all if he is hurting them?

At some point your sister in law surely has to realise her relationships don't just impact on her. She has a duty to her children to protect them. And if she won't there are consequences to this... Worst of all to the children themselves.

Legal advice. That's where I would head.

Please take care of yourself Chris.


Hi Lone

yes a difficult situation

From your account he has "verbally abused" your wife. Its not on every occasion we men have to protect our women. Verbal abuse has many levels. We dont know what level it was?

Is this bf defensive for some reason? She has 4 kids, many failed relationships and a sister and BIL that has looked after her for a long time. Maybe he feels under the microscope and hasnt been accepted by her family?

For what its worth I'd suggest to you and your wife to distance yourselves from both of them. Every second time they visit allow them time with the grandparents and go to the movies. Your presence isnt essential. I think crowding is one issue and that will allow the grandparents to get to know him better.

Eventually you will get friendly enough to calmly set boundaries where it comes to anger which can include phoning you direct to discuss a problem.

Your SIL is in love. Its a strong feeling atm. But if his behaviour goes out of control she will eventually tire of it herself.

Sit back and observe, remain calm, encourage direct contact.

Tony WK

Thanks guy's for the advice!

1st of at the moment I don't believe the kids are in danger at the moment. He has only been verbal towards my wife and and the grandmother.

2nd the sisters in law and the father are in court proceedings at the moment.

Unfortunately I think you guys are right and we may have to distance ourselves.

Her last ex bf was the really bad one as we couldn't get in contact with. He took all communication away. We are just seeing a repeat in behavior with this guy now.

Yes the kids know they can talk about anything to us.

I think family events may have to change a bit away from the house.

I think our opinions are to different. As she won't listen to our advice we may just try to take a back seat.

We've help her out in some very difficult times. Even put a roof over their head's for 6 month's. Just to be treated like this and backstabbe is just ludicrous. Taking a back seat and not getting involved will help my metal well being. But will still keep an eye on the kids well being from a distance.