Road Signs, Life Signs

Do you ever see a sign on the street or on the road and think: You don’t know how right you are, Mr. Street Sign....?

Sometimes I think those signs aren’t just giving us directions while we drive or walk they’re like signposts alerting us to that bump we are about to hit in our personal life.

I haven’t felt like posting for a week now. I have certainly been walking across a bit of a rough surface and it’s not because of my bad leg.

He came after her with an axe. It sounds like the opening line to a scary novel or the opening scene of the latest slasher flick, doesn’t it?

But it really happened. Those of you who have read this blog for a while (and I thank you SOOOO much) will know of my sister’s volatile marriage and the history of domestic abuse she has endured.

I haven’t written about her situation for a while because things have been quiet –almost too quiet. The thing with an addict (my sister’s husband) is that even when they are not engaging in their addictive behaviours they are still addicted. You can see the lure of the addiction lurking behind their eyes. The last time I saw my brother-in-law I saw his addiction like an aura hovering above his head, almost made flesh. And I knew. I knew she was gonna blow.

My brother-in-law went after my sister with an axe last week. At 11AM. He had been drinking since dawn and had consumed over 14 bottles of beer.  I couldn’t consume even half of that without ending up in hospital but he did and he kept moving like a demon from the pits of hell rising up through the fire.

After the 14th bottle of beer he realised he had run out and told my sister to go and get some more. She refused and that’s when he blew.

I’ll spare you most of the details. They are actually quite upsetting for me to write about. My sister is physically unharmed but he was arrested and charged with 6 offenses including arson (he threw furniture out onto the front lawn and set fire to it,) resisting arrest (he swung a punch at a cop,) and cruelty to animals (he poured petrol into my sister’s fish tank.) He may go to jail for up to 4 years.

Miraculously, the fish survived. One of the female police officers was a fishkeeper herself and she filled the bathtub with water, purified it and got them out of the contaminated tank. Her actions really saved them all. As of today they all seem completely fine even the old granddaddy fish – Cedric – who is over ten years old. It would have killed me if he hadn’t made it.

On Monday I went with my sister to court. There is an AVO (apprehended violence order) against her husband that needed to be brought into effect. He is not allowed to be violent towards her (including verbally) for the next two years. Nor is he allowed to drink. If he does he will go immediately to jail.

It was so depressing at the court house. Most of the cases there on that particular day were to do with domestic violence and it was heartbreaking to see it. Not just the black eyes and bruises but the lowered glances and almost palpable loss of any kind of hope.

As we sat in the waiting room I prayed that as a result of my sister witnessing all that misery that she would stand up and say – ENOUGH, ALREADY . I’M OUT OF HERE – and would get the next train out of her one-horse town (or maybe in her case just move in with our parents.) But she didn’t. And she hasn’t.

Her husband came after her with an axe and even that – something that could have killed her – isn’t enough to make her leave. When I realised she wasn’t going to leave the enormity of the whole thing just hit me and I had the worst panic attack I have ever had. I couldn’t catch my breath at all. I really thought I was going to die. I am powerless to help my little baby sister. He might kill her. She has an AVO against him and they are still living in the same house. The whole thing is so messed up I can’t even begin to figure it out.

I’ve asked WHY a million times. I’ve read all about domestic violence. I’ve had friends who have stayed and who have left marriages which were subject to violence. I know how hard it is to go but an axe – an axe. You’re not going to bounce back from that one.

I don’t know what to do. I really don’t. For the first time ever I am really angry with my sister for letting this be her life. For making this be all our lives. I just don’t get it.

I saw an old neighbour of mine at the shops the other day and she said I looked stressed and wondered if it was because of my injury. My injury is fine. It’s almost completely healed, but I said it was bothering me a bit because I couldn’t tell her the truth, I couldn’t say: My brother-in-law threatened my sister’s life with an axe and she hasn’t left him. How can you say that out loud? How can you say it? Most people wouldn’t understand why a woman in that situation wouldn’t run for here life. Truth be told, I don’t really understand.

Do me a favour will you? If you are in a relationship where there is mutual respect and care and consideration and love; where all you have to complain about is that your spouse leaves the toilet seat up or always eats the last piece of cake; give that person the most enormous hug you ever have. Right now. Tell them what they mean to you. It sounds cliched but those people really are the salt of the earth. The SALT. They make life worth living. When we see a road sign that indicates there is a rough surface ahead we know we can walk on the road without falling because of them, because they are there for us, because they keep us safe. Hug them tight right now and don’t let them go for the longest time.

Hold them tight.

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24 thoughts on “Road Signs, Life Signs

  1. Well that sux! There is not much logic in addiction or love or fear or any strong emotion. There’s just waiting and hoping from the sideline and not being able to control the situation, except to ensure you are safe yourself. I know what is like to watch from the sidelines, waiting for something really bad to happen to a relative (waiting for that phone call) and knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do to change that situation. Here’s a big hug for you and for your sister.

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    1. It’s hard to watch from the sidelines, Gabe, but to a certain extent I’ve done it for a long time so I am kind of used to it. I was hoping, however, that something major like this would finally make her leave. I’ll keep waiting and hoping….. Thanks for the beautiful hug!

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  2. Hi Selma,
    I am so sorry to hear this terrible news, I do know the feeling of not being able to do anything to help, it is a terrible feeling especially when it involves someone so close. My heart goes out to you and your Sister.

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    1. Mags, thank you so much. I hate to write about something so depressing so close to Christmas but it has been bothering me a lot and it does help to write about it. Thank you for your kindness!

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  3. Oh my goodness Selma, I do feel for you. Not being able ‘to do’ anything is so hard, the only thing you can do is send lots of love her way, picture her happy and strong … and leaving the situation. You’re so right about holding them tight …. I’m sending lots of love your way xxx

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    1. Thank you for all the love, Deborah. Waiting is hard. i’ve never been good at it. But it’s all i can do right now. Your kind words really help!

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  4. How horrible for you all. It’s very hard to understand why someone would stand for abuse of any kind, but I suspect it ties in with low self esteem and worthiness.
    The hardest part of all is there is nothing you can do if she won’t leave and anyone that can consume that much alcohol and still keep moving isn’t gonna stop drinking just cos of a court order.
    What a tragic situation. My heart goes out to you and your family Selma xoxo

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    1. That’s what I think, Cathy. No court order is going to stop him. It’s like he’s superhuman or something. Can you imagine being able to drink that much and still being able to stand? Thanks for your kindness xx

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  5. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but it comes no easier to say it:

    ‘You cannot help those who don’t want to be helped’

    All you can do is thank everything you believe in it’s not you in that situation, be strong and be there if she needs you.

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    1. I should get that printed out and carry it around in my bag to remind myself, Travelrat. It is very, very true. I would never have believed it until this happened but now I know for sure. i will be there if she needs me. It’s all I can do.

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  6. I am so sorry Selma. It is almost as though the victim is addicted to being with the perp. It is very hard for them to leave and venture from the known danger to the unknown! Don’t advise her, just tell her you’ll be there for her no matter what; that you will stand by her. Be sympathetic, but mostly be empathetic. No advice at all. Praying for you both…

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    1. I think there is addiction on both sides, Adee. Very astute of you. You are also so right about not giving advice – it really does fall on deaf ears. Empathy is really the way to go. You have such a knack for keeping things in perspective. Thank you.

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    1. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of sobering stuff, Slamdunk. I really admire you for doing it. It can’t have been easy. Thank you for your prayers. They mean a lot!

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  7. You have touched upon a subject that I will never understand.Abuse!
    How any man,for any reason sane or insane,abuses a woman does not set well with me.Then the understanding of why the woman still stays,is a life mystery.Thanks for bringing this subject to light.I wish your sister safety.

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  8. How terrible for you all, Selma. I really feel for you and that you have such a sense of powerlessness.. I also don’t understand why people don’t leave under these circumstances, but I guess it’s one of those situations (like clinical depression) where unless you have been there yourself, it’s hard to understand why people can’t pull themselves out of it. Something much stronger than sheer will is operating.

    It’s just beyond belief that the courts allow him back into the home.

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    1. I think it is hard to get it unless you’ve been through it yourself, but even so, putting oneself in such danger seems foolhardy to me. I also think it’s beyond belief that the courts let him back in the home. Now that’s messed up….

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  9. Oh Selma, I have been reading your blog since you started writing it. And, I am very familiar with your sister’s abusive marriage situation.

    I can’t say that I am shocked it came to this. And I can’t say that I am shocked by her reaction. I will NEVER be able to understand the mindset of a battered woman. Self-preservation was more important to me, than ANY relationship.

    However – I am terribly sorry you are going through this right now. It’s horrible.

    *BIG.FAT.HUGS*

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  10. I’m so sorry this is happening, Sel. Again. I know the helpless feeling you’re having first-hand. To echo the sentiments before me – and that which you are well aware – the only thing you can do is step back and understand that you have basically no power in this situation. Which is ironic, as your little sis has given away her power to that man as a result of so many years spent subjected to him and his abuse. Just love her, be there when she needs you, try not to judge her (that’s the hard part), and take care of yourself. xoxo

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    1. The not judging is hard, Steph. It’s really hard. But the truth is I don’t really know what I would do if I were her. Domestic violence is so complex. There is much more to it than just the violence. I will be there if she needs me. It’s all I can do for now. Thank you xx

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