I think my little sister is being abused. How should I approach her?

Brianna - posted on 10/05/2015 ( 5 moms have responded )

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Not a "mom" question. I'm just worried about my sister. My little sister and I are not very close. She was adopted when I was away in college. She's now 21.

Yesterday, she barged into our parents house with her 3 yr old. She looked distressed and had a broken finger. Mom asked her if something was going on with her husband, but she said no. We found out that her husband was out of town at his condo with his mom (they have two houses) since the day before yesterday. So, whatever happened to her is not husband-related. She said she was okay, and when asked about her broken finger, she said she doesn't remember how it happened.

Last night, as I went to turn off our desktop computer that she had been using, I saw that she left her email opened. She was in the middle of writing an email, where she said, "leave me alone." I know I shouldn't have gone through her emails, but I did. There were multiple conversations between her and her ex-boyfriend, Travis, who is about 7-8 years older than her. My parents told me that they dated when she was 14 and that he had gotten her drunk once and taken advantage of her.

They had a child together when she was 15. I've never met the child. From what I know, Travis took him from her and wouldn't let her see him. The child died at 3 yrs old I believe in a car accident while in Travis' care. My parents then precluded all further contact between my little sister and Travis. Since they, she's had another child, married, and is now pregnant again.

The emails I saw were very disturbing. He was telling her that she belonged to him only and that she would hurt her soul if she ever hurt his heart. He said that he was pissed about her being with another guy and that they would be happy together. I found out in other emails that he went to see her yesterday morning while her husband was away. What I find most disturbing is that he said, "next time I won't be so nice when you refuse me" and "you know now to suffer consequences of your actions." That got me thinking that he may me the one who has broken her finger.

In other emails, he requests for her to meet him places (for sex I guess) and if she doesn't she'd regret it and also says, "you know I know where you live." My parents told me that my sister is very afraid of him, but would always deny it. They once told her that they were going to call the cops on him and she freaked out and begged them not to.

I am afraid that she is pregnant with his child because I remember her husband had said how could she have gotten pregnant because he doesn't remember having sex with her recently because he was sick. There were threats after threats in the emails and I am afraid for my sister. She probably takes Travis' threats seriously and is afraid of what he might do to her if she tells anyone. He is very intimidating as she's a tiny girl and he's tall and strong.

I don't know what to do at this point. Should I talk to our parents first, should I talk to her husband or just talk to her? I'm afraid that if I talk to her, she'll deny everything and won't come back to us when she needs help. I don't know

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Gardensparrow - posted on 10/05/2015

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I'm sorry your sister may be in a situation like this. And I totally understand it's hard to know how to reach out to her. But I guess you'll never know how she'll react until you talk with her. So, that might be your first step. You may also want to approach the idea with her of bringing your parents into this. I realize it's difficult though, as she's technically an adult.

Another thought, for you or your parents, would be to get a counselor's take on your concerns. They may be able to give you some warning signs (of abuse) to be on the look out for with your sister, as well as some strategies on how you could best help her right now.

So, just a couple thoughts to consider...

Raye - posted on 10/05/2015

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You should talk to your sister first, but know that she's going to be angry and not want your help. You should let her know that you care for her and the well-being of her child, and if she doesn't call the police on this guy, then you will tell her husband, you will call the police, and call child services to make sure that the child is not in any danger from this person. So basically she needs to do the right thing and get the authorities after the ex-boyfriend or you will. It's not okay if she's cheating on her husband. It's not okay if she's letting this guy abuse her. It's not okay. You can't ruin her life any more than it is, because she has already ruined it by allowing these things to happen. She needs to put her big girl panties on, start taking responsibility and being responsible.

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Gardensparrow - posted on 10/06/2015

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Thanks for the update, Brenna. I'm sorry she may be back with her ex, but I'm glad you were able to take some steps to address this situation. Hopefully, that will be helpful in reaching out to her. And I'm glad the counseling suggestion was helpful. Perhaps in the future that's something your sister might consider? Always good to get a little professional help if you've been through any type of abuse...

Brianna - posted on 10/05/2015

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I've read some disturbing conversations between her and her ex. I think he is forcing her to do things that she doesn't want to do and threatens her to make sure that she does what he wants. They had a really bad history, and I think she is very afraid of him.

Brianna - posted on 10/05/2015

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I talked to our mom. My sister left our house a few hours ago (before our mom got home from work) and we haven't heard from her since. We also talked to the police. Just hoping she's not with her ex again.

But will definitely keep your suggestion about a counselor in mind!

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