Is breaking ties okay?

Chryblsmsunrise

Not Active
Hello everyone,
I have a situation I'd like some input on. I'm an auntie to the cutest little niece. Been there for her since day 1. She's now 6. We used to go over all the time, always been close, and lately had been keeping in touch through Skype...but recently I've ignored her calls because I felt the following events were stressful to deal with so I avoided the situation all together:

This past month:
- My sister has shown her true colors, especially lately. She is a copy of my father, who abused me physically and emotionally my entire childhood. She triggers me constantly. It's been so hard to remain even friends but I did it for the kid.
- Sister found out her husband was cheating with someone who is on probation for an assault charge.
- Then sister beat my niece so bad that my brother in law filed charges against her.(wasn't there, haven't been around them bc of pandemic, only skype)
- When I was told it happened, I wanted to call her right away and comfort her and help. But I was told by my brother to not bring it up at all. I wasn't allowed to be there for him. He's always been controlling and munipulative.


When I say they're both toxic I mean they always say things to bring me down, mock me, be little my successes, ignore boudaries I've set, try and push family members away.

Thing is, I think I'd be happier not having my sister and brother in law in my circle, so that way I'm not triggered, boundaries don't constantly get pushed, I could leave my past behind a little more. Leave more room for happiness.
But what about my niece?
I want to be there for her but have been dealing with her parents toxicity for too long now.
If I just wanted to keep them all out of my circle...is that okay? This would include not talking to my niece anymore. I know I'd be hurting my niece's feelings. I feel so guilty because she's very attached as I am to her but I'm ready to get off her parent's rollercoasters.

Hope this made sense. I've had a headache on and off for a bit.
Thank you for any advice or insight.
 
To answer your question? Of course breaking ties is okay. It's entirely up to you who you have in your life and why. If you find your sister and brother-in-law to be too much for you to handle then yes it's okay to exclude them.

In respect to your niece? It seems you have limited contact now anyway. Certainly not enough to do anything to help her. And being able to comfort her or assist her seems impossible?

How did you find out about the assault on her? Just wondering because it's strange that your BIL would tell you and then warn you not to mention it to your niece.

Obviously your niece's parents control how much contact you have so it seems you will not have the luxury of seeing your niece without one of them being in the picture so it seems you cannot have one without the other?

It makes it more difficult to do but still your niece will grow older and there may be an opportunity in the future for contact to be resumed with just her.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @Chryblsmsunrise , I think it's perfectly ok to set boundaries and decide who is and isn't in your life but it would be a shame for your niece to suffer because of other people's actions. Isn't there a way that you can still keep in contact with her?
 

Friday

Moderator
Abandoning children who are being abused seems to be the hip thing to do in this day & age.

Her parents belittle your successes & mock you, so sure. Right after she’s been beaten up seems like the perfect time to duck her calls, & bail on her. She’s 6, after all. What does she need with someone who loves her in her corner?

Or you could grow a spine, stand up to her parents, and have to get kicked out of her life before you’d stop being there for her.

Since you’re asking strangers on the internet for permission to kick a kid to the curb? I won’t hold my breath on the whole strength of character & convictions score. But people have surprised me, before. Maybe you’ll be one of them.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
I think I agree with everyone. You DO have the right to have the people you want around you, and not the people you don't want. But, there's a defenseless kid involved here and it seems like her welfare should be the most important thing. Seems like it would be good if your niece had someone on her side, and if she knew that. If you were in her situation, what would you want your favorite aunt to do?
 

Chryblsmsunrise

Not Active
Abandoning children who are being abused seems to be the hip thing to do in this day & age.

Her parents belittle your successes & mock you, so sure. Right after she’s been beaten up seems like the perfect time to duck her calls, & bail on her. She’s 6, after all. What does she need with someone who loves her in her corner?

Or you could grow a spine, stand up to her parents, and have to get kicked out of her life before you’d stop being there for her.

Since you’re asking strangers on the internet for permission to kick a kid to the curb? I won’t hold my breath on the whole strength of character & convictions score. But people have surprised me, before. Maybe you’ll be one of them.

Thing is, I cannot be there for her. I was told not to talk about what happened or I cannot talk to her at all. That feels powerless. Also, my brother in law, who has them now, is very controlling. The time limit for talking is 1 hour a week but she gets her ipad taken away a lot lately or she's been bad or whatnot and cannot talk. I ask both parents and both say no. I'm being pushed away and there's nothing I can do about it.
They've done the same to other family members. Such as my mom. She didn't agree with some things she said, small things and before she knew it, she purposefully withheld contact from her. Now they see each other only on holidays. Her calls and texts get ignored. And she asks me why and I tell her honestly if you don't walk on eggshells you will get pushed away.

The situation is much more difficult than it may seem. Your post was very hurtful, as it is generalizing and defensive. I condensed my post... a lot.
My "family" conditionally loves. Make them mad and they will push you away with no regard. I have no power in this situation because I've tried talking to her, compromising, cps, etc. My spine is plenty strong. These people cannot simply be talked to and things change. They lack basic empathy. Ever met people like that? Unwilling to see another's point of view?
I would stay there for her...but it's already slipping away from my control. They've already minimised our contact on facetime and constantly say "she can't have her ipad today." And never set up times where I can call her and be there.
If I wanted to abandon her I would have. I'm taking a break. I was there for her after it happened, I'm just taking a step back as I see if it's worth it to keep trying and trying to be the best aunt just to be banned from talking to my own niece. By the way, it wasn't just my mom. It was 5+ more family members that aren't invited to holidays anymore, aren't called, aren't allowed to call her...etc. I'm perfectly comfortable with my moral compass. I see the outcomes. Do I keep trying? For 6 more years? It has taken a toll. And when I found out I can't even be there for him when he needs me, I have to ignore the problems he deals with, everything is manipulated, I got very triggered as my father was very controlling.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
There are two competing conflicts here:
Your mind and energy.
The real world, legal and others.

How you frame the story in your head, how you *feel* about the child, and keep an open mind and door is under your control. This is one you can deal with your own and with your therapist.

The other one is a bit trickier.

You have legally no privilege on this child. Your relation to this child is dependent on your relationship with her parents. You will not be the first not only aunt or uncle but even a mother or a father, who lost contact with a child due extreme circumstances. What you may do to sort of open the door (as noted above) is when you are breaking up with the sister and BIL to also give them the choice and the opportunity that you are breaking up with them but still want to keep contact with the child.

Remember no matter how much you love this child, if the parents decide against the relationship you have no chance.

This is one of those adult and reality situation that what we want and what we can get are not always inclusive.

Do not be guilt on, or blamed on, or be shamed if you lose contact with the child. No child wants crazy relationships. If the parents keep you away, all you can do and hope is the child may find you when she is older. The matter is not in your control. Taking care of your mental health and grieve is your control. Take it and hope you might be on adult in the future, the child can count on if she is not poisoned by the parents.

Take care of you first and the chips fall they may.
 

LuckiLee

MyPTSD Pro
I can't tell you what you should do all I know is what I would do.

I would make sure my niece knows I will always and in all ways be there for her. I would be a constant support for her. I would drop in unexpectedly. I would definitely have had words with sister. I would offer for niece to stay with me. I would want to see the police report and medical reports. I would keep all lines of communication open for niece. I would tell her I love her every day.

She needs a advocate in her corner and I would be it. As @Friday said, they would have to kick me out of that little girls life. She's 6 and needs help!!!

 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
I also think the most important person in this equation is the little girl. You may need to be the person to be there for her that you did not have. Speaking from experience, maybe seeing first-hand how hard that is will be part of your healing journey, too.

I'm sure no one thinks it's an easy position to be in but your options are to try and be there for an abused little girl that you love or to protect yourself. Obviously, as a survivor, your first instinct is to protect yourself. But, ultimately, I doubt you will ever feel that this was the right decision.
 

LuckiLee

MyPTSD Pro
I keep thinking about this post and your niece. The majority of the people on this forum are here because of childhood abuse and neglect.

I bet people like inordinate, little oc, And, and the others here wanted someone to help them. People knew. Teachers, aunts, parents, neighbors , councilors.... Yet nobody intervened. And they now suffer with PTSD among other disorders and physical ailments.

You were abused as a child. What did 6 year old you, need?

I know you dont feel strong enough for this. But at the very least please keep the communication open with your niece.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I've been in a similar situation to you.
I phoned child protection services on my sister, her husband and their children.

Your niece has been phsycially abused. Is she safe now? That is the first priority. She has absolutely no choice in what happens to her. You do. She needs protection.

I withstood years of challenges to remain in the lives of my nephews and nieces. Thankfully they are now aged 24, 21, 16 and 12. So I have relationships with them that are independent from their parents. But that has only been recently with the younger two.

It's awful being in your situation so I totally empathise. For many years I felt it was my job to make sure my nephews and nieces had birthday parties and presents and food, and clothes etc. I washed their clothes and bed linen, so they didn't smell. I gave them baths and washed their hair. I enabled the situation by my actions. Then I got wise, and phoned and phoned child protection. And eventually they intervened.

Whilst you have to protect yourself. You are an adult and have choices. A 6 year old doesn't.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
But what about my niece?
I want to be there for her but have been dealing with her parents toxicity for too long now.
Tough, for you. But, 6 year old niece can't escape them either.

This would include not talking to my niece anymore. I know I'd be hurting my niece's feelings
At 6 years old, the brain isn't sufficiently developed to make sense of situations the way we can when we hit puberty. Her feelings will be hurt, but neurologically, she's going to interpret it as "I must have done something wrong". That's pretty tough for a 6 year old. Her feelings will be hurt, and she won't understand - not because she's unintelligent, but because she has a 6 year old brain.

It sounds like staying in contact atm is already a challenge because of covid. Can you arrange to do facetime/skype calls occasionally?

What happened when charges were filed against her mum? Did CPS get involved at that point? If not, can you contact them?
 
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