My sister’s husband yells

It got so bad she's divorcing him but he wants to be alone with the daughter

Topics: Since You Asked, Marriage, Verbal Abuse,

My sister's husband yells (Credit: Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

My sister and her husband have just decided to get a divorce. This was not a surprise, as they have not been living together since last November, when my sister escaped their home with her 2-year-old daughter to stay with my parents. My brother-in-law had been viciously abusing her verbally for years, even before their marriage. He finally went too far, ripping into her with an especially frightening attack and then retreating to their basement, refusing to communicate with her or their daughter for three days.

Though I’d seen signs of something wrong with her and hints of anger from him, I had no idea how bad things had been. It was brutal for our family to hear all the things my sister had been enduring for the past seven years. Sometimes he would scream so loud in the car that she would fear for their baby’s hearing. Another time when she was several months pregnant, he would not stop yelling at her, even though she begged him to. She dealt with his angry, controlling ways on a daily basis. Once she left him, the furious texts he sent her upset her so much that she became physically ill.

She got back in the house, though, and made him move into an apartment. She also insisted that the baby spend every night at home, and except for a couple of out-of-state trips to visit his family, that’s how it has been since she left him. However, he does insist on as much of a 50-50 childcare situation as possible. This means that every other morning, he shows up at the house to prepare their daughter for childcare. He also gets to have her with him on Sundays. He insists on these things because he feels he deserves to be accommodated since my sister made him move. He has, as I have found is often the case with verbal abusers, very little if any remorse for what he has done. He doesn’t classify his behavior as abuse and he blames my sister for much of his anger, despite the fact that his family and romantic relationships have all been characterized by the same behavior. The major difference? My sister didn’t fight back.

As unpleasant as it must be for my sister to see her abuser so often, I understand that she wants her daughter to have a relationship with her father. It bothers me that he has screamed so much in front of my niece, because I feel like that has got to be teaching her some terrible lessons, but she does love him and wants to spend time with him. My sister is determined to keep things as civil and dignified as possible during this period of transition, and I and the rest of our family have done our best to respect her wishes.

Now that the divorce is imminent, though, I feel like my brother-in-law is increasing his efforts to control my sister, and I’m having a hard time keeping my promise to stay civil. He has recently requested overnight stays, and while my sister does not feel safe letting her daughter stay at his apartment, she is trying to accommodate him. This means that every other night, my sister will need to leave her own house so that my brother-in-law can put their daughter to bed. He doesn’t want her there, because he wants all of my niece’s attention and thinks that she won’t let him put her to bed if my sister is there. He’s letting her come back once their daughter is asleep.

For some reason, that request, possibly a demand, put me over the edge. After all that he has done to hurt my sister, now he is making her leave her own home three to four nights a week? My sister has an extremely demanding job. She typically doesn’t even have time to shop for groceries. I know that she is exhausted at the end of the day. The thought of her having to leave her home and kill time when she desperately needs a break is just killing me.

Should I just be happy that she gets to have her daughter at home every night? Is this just how things are in these situations? It all seems so unfair. I want so badly to figure out a way to save her all this trouble, though I know I need to butt out and just support my sister. How the heck do I deal with this? I’m so angry at this man, and so afraid of the influence he is having on my niece.

Frustrated Sister

Dear Frustrated,

I am outraged that this woman has to leave her own house three or four times a week so that her verbally abusive husband can put their daughter to bed. I think she should draw the line. If they want to put the daughter to bed jointly, OK. If she wants to step out of the room, maybe OK. But to leave the house every time? It feels like manipulation and punishment and control. It’s creepy. Plus, those three days he spent in the basement hint at mental instability. I don’t like this situation.

She should tell her husband that the rules have changed and she isn’t leaving the house while he’s there with her daughter.

I mean, you know what I mean? Right? It’s just creepy and sick. I mean, Sheesh. I mean, as my dad would say, Golly whack! which was his endearingly mild way of saying, Holy fuck!

Ya know?

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>