Bullied by Sister in Law- help!


#1

I've just edited this post to remove the full details - to be brief, I am being constantly put down by my non-Catholic sister in law. It began with pointing out all that was 'wrong' with me, from my teeth, my hair, my height, my weight, my interests, my job......
I am really upset this evening because she's just sent me a 'joke' text suggesting I have placed an order in a sex toys catalogue for a fire extinguisher that I have obvioulsy mistaken for an anal vibrator that would be a good fit for me :confused::mad:

It's so un-funny and childish, it shouldn't be worth getting upset about, but I am because me and the rest of the family have tried so hard to be kind to her and welcome her into the family and all she seems to repay is with is snide remarks and indiference.

Nobody wants to confront the problem because nobody wants to put a strain on the marriage by making my brother feel he has to 'take sides'.

Has anyone else been in a similar situation?


#2

Has anything been communicated with her at all?

Has anyone ever told her to keep her mouth shut?

There is nothing wrong with telling a person that you don’t plan on listening to their insults. And to please keep their crass personal attack/jokes to themselves. Or get “funny” back. DB, your wife seems to be having a stroke, you should call 911. The things coming out of her mouth are terribly inappropriate. I can’t imagine she’s FINE… HURRY!!!

I wouldn’t be bullied from staying away from family events if they decide to show. But there it is unreasonable for the whole family to be abused by her so that your brother, who is blind to it, can participate.

WHERE are you when these sort of attacks happen?

I’d send the “joke” back… and say, “I don’t get it.”

I should add that my inlaws went through a period where they felt they should insult me for whatever reason. The drawback to that is that I’m a total loud mouth, who doesn’t take that sort of thing. They realized pretty quick they can think what they want, but they better expect to be cut off at the knees should they decide to verbalize… This was even done on my wedding day!!! It also really ticked them off that I didn’t fall for the bait that day AT ALL! MY DAY, not theirs. I had a blast. They wallowed A LOT!


#3

I’m really sorry you are going through this. It can be really tough having awkward family situations and painful too. I never had the exact situation as you but before I got married I was bullied by my husband’s family. Primarily his mom and sisters. I think out of his immediate family there is just one of his siblings that has never insulted me. Some of his other relatives went out of their way to be nice to me and I loved them for it but his immediate family was tough to handle.

It did put a strain on our relationship but luckily he understood my point of view. I just did everything I could to be nice to them so they wouldn’t have any ammunition on me. Turns out I did a good job b/c they then resorted to making up complete ridiculous lies. They were so outright falsehoods that my husband was dumbfounded by what they were trying to do. Since I never took the bait and I kept being nice it all gradually ended.

I know if it were the other way around, if I were the one insulting one of my husband’s sisters I would have been out the door in a flat second. They would have had no tolerance for that behavior, including my husband.

Does your family not see her behavior towards you? The reason why my husband’s family hounded me was b/c they are some of the most immature people I have ever met. Looks to be she suffers from that too.

I’m sorry for you and your poor brother to be married to someone so mean. If you don’t feel comfortable being confrontational all you can really do is pray pray pray that Jesus will show her how to behave sometime in the near future!


#4

People like her have to do mean things in order to make themselves feel better. Actually, she probably dislikes herself so much she doesn’t even see it.

Don’t speak to her at all and when she sends you a text, reply back to her to stop it.

If she doesn’t stop, speak to your brother. If he doesn’t stop it, then just like a childhood bully, only tolerate them in passing, aka Christmas, etc and do not socialize with them.


#5

Is it possible that she feels like the "outsider" and she's trying to get "inside" the family? Maybe in her circle of friends this kind of inappropriate joking is acceptable?

If you've never confronted her before, I would start by responding to her messages with something like "Jokes like that make me really uncomfortable. Can we keep our conversations PG rated?"

If you have confronted her before and she is definitely doing this with the intention of makin g you uncomfortable, it might be time to be more direct.


#6

I haven't been in that situation exactly, although my inlaws tend to poke fun at my faith quite a bit. They don't mean any harm though.
Seriously? I would confront her, and if your brother's feelings get hurt, then too bad. You do not have to put up with this kind of abuse! Of course it would be hard for your brother to have to take sides. But what about your feelings? Do you have to put up with this type of treatment?
You don't have to be mean about it. The next time she says something hurtful or inappropriate, you could say:"That comment really hurt my feelings." or:"I'm sorry, but I think that is completely inappropriate!"
She might honestly not understand how her inappropriate behavior is impacting you. So she needs to be told.
And if she does know, she needs to be told that it is not acceptable and it needs to change.
God bless you, this must be a tough situation to be in!


#7

I was picked on by my brother's gf and then wife. I was 12. :shrug: She was a senior in high school and older. She picked on me about my glasses about a bad habit I had, about my looks, just about anything she could find to pick on me about. Luckily I had been picked on when I was younger and had come to the philosophical realization that the I was smarter than the people picking on me, so I made the same observation about her. :p

As a 12 year old (and up) I was confused about why anyone her age (an adult) would want to pick on me, (she also picked on/bullied my older brother and younger brother). But I didn't let it affect me too much, also my parents (and older siblings) didn't let her get by with it too often.

She is now an ex-SIL, with issues. I luckily no longer have to deal with her. Don't let it get to you, show her she has no power over you. If she doesn't stop, I agree with faithfully, get smart back at her.


#8

Your SIL sounds like a red-button pusher, desperately looking for a red button that will yield her a reaction. IOW, I don't think this has much to do with her being a Catholic or not. It has to do with wanting to push your buttons, probably because she wants attention, and especially relishes it if she can get it at someone else's expense.

I grew up with a brother who constantly made childish jokes like that because at the time he was, well, a child. He was merciless and relentless and he made me miserable. It wasn't just me, though. My mother used to comment that he just couldn't stand to see a room where people were getting along, without coming in and getting somebody stirred up.

She finally convinced me that the way to deal with it was to take the fun out of it. So when he called me stupid, I would reply in a deadpan: "Yes, I'm about the stupidest person on the face of the planet. I don't know how you can stand being around me." It worked! He quit!

"You're so fat, you're a total hippopotamus." "Oh, yes, fat. It's a wonder I can move under my own propulsion." Then ignore. Just let the taunt lie there and die. "Your teeth are awful. If my teeth looked like that, I'd kill myself." "Oh, yes, my teeth. A great trial, my teeth." Then ignore. If she persists, you can say, "OK. Yeah, I think you mentioned that." More ignoring. You need her to feel as if she's trying to get a banana to play basketball with her. The "stupid" comments will ramp up....let them. When you play stupid and the person calls you stupid, you have arrived. Go with that.

The function of the little agreement comments before you totally ignore her is to give her a patronizing kind of attention. She is not going to mind that you think she is mean. She is going to mind to see that she's an utter failure as a comedian. Never forget that. Really bad comedians don't make people mad or hurt. The worst comedians bore people. It is not that people think their punchlines aren't funny. With the worst punchlines, people don't even recognize them as *being *punchlines. It will drive her nuts that you not only find her a total bore, but that your reply patronizes her effort. You can have no return aggression in your reply, or it won't work. There has to be a "yes, yes, dear, whatever you said. Not sure what it was all about, but we'll pat you on the head, anyway" quality to your response.

The phone message should just be ignored. If she asks about it, pretend you have no idea what she is talking about. If she explains, feign misunderstanding, as if she had some severe aphasia, so she was saying "blanket" when she meant "car". I mean, really play stupid. You can take this to preposterous lengths, if you like. "Anal vibrator? Fire extinguisher? I have no idea what on earth you are talking about." If she is so obtuse as to draw a picture, then you say, "Oh....Oh-KAY. Well, at least I now know why I had no idea what on earth you were talking about." Then let it drop. If she persists, reply with "Yes, you said that." Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. This is a variation on the patronizing theme, but in this case, you act as if you didn't even realize she was *trying *to make a joke. If she comes out and says it was a joke, then, express puzzled suprise.

ONE BIG CAVEAT: What is your SIL like as a human being, other than this? What I am suggesting is only appropriate if she's an otherwise harmless person, looking for attention in an inappropriate way. If she has any of the marks of a sociopath--callous, doesn't seem to feel empathy or remorse, just superficially charming, when there is any effort at all, doesn't seem to make real connections with others, uses people, hates it when anyone else gets attention, and so on--then DO NOT engage this woman. Just stay off of her radar. Sociopaths are the champions of "cutting off the nose to spite the face." A sociopath will either use you, attack you, or ignore you. Choose Door #3, and hope to heavens that she lets you go for it.


#9

I agree with EasterJoy - take the fun out of it for her. When she texts you something insulting, text back a question mark. She was either hoping for a laugh or an angry reaction out of you, and a quzzical one that implies "I don't understand what you meant, could you clarify?" would put her on the spot and cause her to either stop the conversation or try to defend her actions. Doing so would deny her whatever satisfaction she gets from insulting you by taking away the power to push your buttons. If she insults you to your face, be patronizing and dismissive like you would to a child or make it clear by your facial expression, tone of voice, words, etc. that you're a little surprised an adult her age would say something like that. It will not be what she is expecting and if she is embarassed, she will hopefully think twice before doing it again.

Is your brother aware of what's going on? Does he agree that her behavior is innapropriate and needs to stop, or does he side with her, make excuses, or pass it off as no big deal? If he agrees that this needs to stop, you should ask him to tell her that she can't treat his family members this way. If she won't listen and continues to be childish and rude to her husbsand's family......well, there's a good chance she won't be your SIL much longer..........:shrug:

I also agree that if she is a certain type of person, it may just be best to limit contact with her as much as you can. That is what many in my husband's family has had to do with my MIL. She isn't childish, she's downright mean and spiteful and purposefully wrecks relationships. I've talked to my priest and read up on people with bipolar and borderline personality disorder, and they all say that it's best to keep as far away from them as possible. It is the only way to avoid losing your sanity to the family-destroying drama those people love to create.


#10

EasterJoy

I like the way you think :wink:


#11

yeah, my brother is like that, but he has psychological problems. It's tough when someone you HAVE to be in a relationship with has these kinds of issues.

everything has to be about him. He can't stand anyone else being the center of attention or having any fun. The trouble with thinks like borderline personality disorder is that casual friends just won't know it. It's the kind of thing that only manifests itself to people very close to the sick person. That's what makes these kinds of things so hard to treat in therapy, because the patient-councilor relationship is an intimate one, and the councilor often ends up getting hurt or insulted by the patient.


#12

[quote="Rose71, post:1, topic:222292"]
Nobody wants to confront the problem because nobody wants to put a strain on the marriage by making my brother feel he has to 'take sides'.

[/quote]

I hate to break it to you but the only way the problem will be solved is by confronting it.

I am sure someon whit wiser advice than me would be able to suggest a way to confront it with out making your brother feel he has to choose sides. Even though, as a married man, he should take hers but that is a whole other can or worms.

First, I would tell her politely that her behaviour hurts me. If she does not take you seriously, I would send my brother the stupid email and let him know what she is doing. If your brother does not think his wife did anything wrong, then I would be cold as ice to her.

just my opinion

CM


#13

Her vulgar sense of humor speaks volumes about her. The woman needs to be dealt with in a calm, collected manner. If she had much going for her, she wouldn’t have the time to be a busybody, and so may be acting this way in connection with a void that she feels in her life. Family counseling is a recommendation. Good luck with this.


#14

Is your brother aware of the things she says or does she wait until he's out of the room? Show him that text. If she's willing to say these things to adults imagine what she might say to their children when they become parents.


#15

Hi Rose

Your sister-in-law is a text book bully. I've been in your situation but with so-called "friends" rather than an in-law. You can always distance yourself and break off a friendship.

I always think it's best to speak to the person if you feel you need to salvage the relationship in some way. Otherwise if you repress it, you may just snap one day and she'll appear to be the victim.

Maybe you could invite her for a coffee (on neutral ground) and without sounding as though you're accusing her of something, you could say sometimes you're uncomfortable with her sense of humour. You know that she's joking but it's not your sort of thing and you'd rather not have that sort of exchange in future.

Bullies don't like to be confronted even subtly. She may try to turn the tables on you and say you're being overly sensitive etc but deep down she's likely to get the message if she thinks that you might stand up to her more forcefully in future. If she does start down that path again after you've spoken to her you can always stop it by politely excusing yourself. She may be unpleasant for a bit but if there is no "pay off" she'll soon turn her attention elsewhere.

I've had to do this myself with people so I do know how difficult it can be but always remember that these people are quite often insecure, desperate for attention and build themselves up by tearing others down. It's their problem, not yours.

There's a great book that you can read called Nasty People by Jay Carter. He gives good advice on coping techniques.

I'm so sorry that this has happened. I hope it gets sorted out. No one deserves to be treated with disrespect.

God bless you,
Clare


#16

there are no “sides” here, your husband must protect you from this harrassment, period. his loyalty is to you now. This has nothing to do with the woman’s religion, she sounds disturbed. If she used the internet or even US Mail for such antics against someone at her workplace, for instance, she could be prosecuted.


#17

:) Thank you so much for all the advice and support everyone! It really is appreciated, because when you are in the middle of a situation like this, it can be hard to keep things in perspective.

I know she does need help and I am actually quite certain she is mentally ill. She hasn't worked for nearly 5 years; she sleeps in until around 11am most days and she is very, very controlling and I've heard her putting my brother down too. Sometimes, she can actually be quite charming and good company though and we are all hoping that there realy is a nice person in there somewhere, struggling to get out. Sometimes it is almost as though she is over-sensitvie and has just built up huge barriers and wants to believe that everyone is against her, so she can stay safe in 'poor little meeeeeeee' world.

Another issue is that nobody wants to be the one to send her 'over the edge' or feel responsible for interfering in the marriage. They have one child who is my parents' only grandchild and likely to remain the only one, so they are worried sick about losing him if she walked out.

I have already tried to persuade my brother to take action - but what action? I am the less tolerant of the two of us (just a bit :D) and my stance would be to tell her to seek professional help, or agree to a separation, because her behaviour has become so extreme now (there are a lot of other issues besides her picking on me over the last few months) that unless she can face up the the effects her illness is having on those around her, she is not fit to be in a marriage. That said, where does this leave their son, who is only 4 years old? The family would rally round to help if my brother got custody, but what if she did?

The really tragic thing is that we all do want her to be part of the family and be happy. Even on her wedding day, when she only had 4 guests because she has so few friends and had fallen out with most of her family, she made absolutely no effort to meet or speak to the wider family. We are fed up of making excuses for her like 'oh, she's just really shy' ......


#18

[quote="Rose71, post:17, topic:222292"]
:) Thank you so much for all the advice and support everyone! It really is appreciated, because when you are in the middle of a situation like this, it can be hard to keep things in perspective.

I know she does need help and I am actually quite certain she is mentally ill. She hasn't worked for nearly 5 years; she sleeps in until around 11am most days and she is very, very controlling and I've heard her putting my brother down too. Sometimes, she can actually be quite charming and good company though and we are all hoping that there realy is a nice person in there somewhere, struggling to get out. Sometimes it is almost as though she is over-sensitvie and has just built up huge barriers and wants to believe that everyone is against her, so she can stay safe in 'poor little meeeeeeee' world.

Another issue is that nobody wants to be the one to send her 'over the edge' or feel responsible for interfering in the marriage. They have one child who is my parents' only grandchild and likely to remain the only one, so they are worried sick about losing him if she walked out.

I have already tried to persuade my brother to take action - but what action? I am the less tolerant of the two of us (just a bit :D) and my stance would be to tell her to seek professional help, or agree to a separation, because her behaviour has become so extreme now (there are a lot of other issues besides her picking on me over the last few months) that unless she can face up the the effects her illness is having on those around her, she is not fit to be in a marriage. That said, where does this leave their son, who is only 4 years old? The family would rally round to help if my brother got custody, but what if she did?

The really tragic thing is that we all do want her to be part of the family and be happy. Even on her wedding day, when she only had 4 guests because she has so few friends and had fallen out with most of her family, she made absolutely no effort to meet or speak to the wider family. We are fed up of making excuses for her like 'oh, she's just really shy' ......

[/quote]

Either she is not capable of better behavior or she is capable and unwilling. I don't know if this woman is a sociopath, but treat her as if she was. Just stay off her radar and make nothing of her humor, even when it is cruel, for the sake of her husband, who surely suffers a great deal because of her habits. Be pleasant to her, do not confront her, and do not expect a lot out of her. Do not put any trust in her until she changes on the other fronts. Give her no reason to concern herself with you, for good or for ill.

Of all the issues her husband has with her, this is hardly the biggest one. He has bigger fish to fry with her, and the farther you can stay out of that, the less burdensome it will be for him. If she starts to come around on her other issues, then perhaps someday you can break it to her directly that her sense of humor strays into the hurtful. If she never comes around on her bigger issues, nothing good will come of taking on this particular problem with her.


#19

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