Last year, my older brother moved away for university (we see each other weekly).
At school, he began dating a boy. Initially, he seemed very charming and I could tell my brother liked him.
On one visit to their shared apartment, I went to the kitchen and was groped by my brother’s boyfriend.
Thinking he was being silly, I politely told him to stop. He didn't.
When I demanded that he stop, he grew hostile and very rude. I didn't tell my brother and left early.
Since then, he's harassed me verbally and on social media (I've blocked him).
He's told my brother that I'm being pushy, rude, and stubborn with him in various scenarios. I denied it, and my brother believed me, but he tried to reason his boyfriend’s behaviour.
On a recent visit, I heard him cussing out my brother. When confronted about it, my brother said it’d been happening for a month.
I'm very worried that my brother’s being abused, and unsure if I should disclose the groping incident.
I don't want him hurt in any way.
Visit your brother alone, and describe the groping.
Say that you’re very upset for him that the behaviour was so inappropriate and invasive. It was also a bullying tactic, indicating that he can do whatever he likes.
Cussing out your brother is another demeaning side of this guy’s anger.
Your brother should re-think the relationship.
If you feel he’s losing confidence to do that, then yes, there’s emotional abuse going on and he needs to break away from its influence.
If he doesn’t believe you, suggest he sees a counsellor through student services. Meanwhile, stay in close touch.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman’s question about her husband’s alcoholic outbursts and the effects on their son’s fiancée (August 14):
Reader #1 – “I've been there. The man’s wife and her son have lived this way for so long, it's become normal.
“Verbal, emotional, and mental abuse wears you down until the point where you just "function" to get through another day.
“She should’ve talked to the future daughter-in-law in person, NOT via text. "Mama in the Middle" will do whatever it takes to avoid confrontation. Her son has learned to do the same.
“It upsets me that the young fiancée has spent a month as a hermit in the basement, to avoid this man.
“Somebody or "Mama” needs to go to the basement and help this young woman.
“She and her future mother-in-law both need counselling (individually).
“Sadly, it won't happen because the mother’s only looking to get the fiancée out of the house permanently.
“She’ll do anything to avoid her husband having aggressive, loud outbursts. (Ellie – She’ll do anything except confront his alcoholism).”
Reader #2 – “I understand how the future daughter in-law feels. My father-in-law is a heavy alcoholic though he doesn’t believe it.
“My husband's breaking all contact with him because of the negativity and emotional trauma his father’s addiction caused him throughout his life.
“Considering that the fiancée lives there, she has the right to speak up. Alcoholism affects EVERYONE, not just the alcoholic.
“The wife’s feeling stuck between her alcoholic husband, future daughter-in-law, and son.
“The alcoholic father should consider joining Alcoholics’ Anonymous. However, if he chooses not to go, family counselling and/or marriage counselling should be considered.
“Learning how to help yourself and your alcoholic loved one is the first step in the right direction to create a healthy home and family environment.”
My stepbrother’s wife dominates our annual family get-together, which our combined four children cousins eagerly anticipate.
We “sons” have liked each other since our parents married 20 years ago.
However, his wife believes her family has more “rights” in his father’s house.
She commandeers the bigger guest room, waits to be served (my step-brother pitches in), and stays reading/relaxing when we’re taking kids to activities around town.
We still have a good time but my wife and I feel second-class, even though my stepfather’s never treated me that way.
Do I mention this to him or my stepbrother? Or just accept that’s her way.
Don’t raise it with your parents, they see what’s going on and likely decided wisely to stay out of it. You’re not second-class to them.
Your stepbrother’s already doing what he can.
She’s choosing her idea of fun. You stick with yours. The kids are still enjoying the visit.
Keep the peace.
Note to Readers from Ellie – Sept. 5, 2017: In this column, the writer’s friend is described as “openly and comfortably gay.” It’s clear that refers to his sexual identity instead of “sexual orientation” which is the phrase which appeared wrongly in print in my response, but also appeared wrongly on my website as "gender identity."
I am normally aware in my writing of the difference in terms. Sexual identity correctly refers to his sexual self-concept i.e.who he is, not just how he behaves sexually.
Tip of the day:
Abuse finds many outlets, so sometimes it’s directed to the person’s closest supporter.