When Silent D And Me was last live, I touched on the subject of my abusive family. I downplayed the situation, as I was still under the influence of their denial and minimisation (I’m not even sure that’s a real word, but it sounded OK in my head).
I decided to cut all contact from my abusive family members last year, after 30 years of the most cruel emotional and psychological abuse and torment. They’re my extended family on my Dad’s side, so cutting them off will be simple, right? Wrong. Over the past year, we’ve been stalked, harassed and subjected to further nasty attacks. The latest two incidents, have changed the direction of how we will deal with their behaviour, going forward.
The Saturday before last, my husband and I decided to go to our local pub, for a couple of early evening drinks. Our children were staying over at my Dad’s house, so we thought we’d make the most of it and enjoy an hour or two out, before going home to slob out on the sofa in front of the TV. Around half an hour after our arrival, my uncle and his wife came into the pub. A bit of background on my uncle’s wife: she is best friends with my abusive aunts, and is always a main contributor to the drama that goes on.
When we saw them walk in, I immediately suggested to my husband, that we finish our drinks and leave. He was of the opinion that we shouldn’t leave, just because they were in the same pub as us. We had just as much right to be there, as they did. I just wanted to go home, as I could feel my anxiety kicking in. My husband suggested we go outside, for a cigarette and a chat in private. No sooner had we stepped outside, my uncle’s wife followed us.
She said she and my uncle were leaving after they’d finished their drinks, as they didn’t want to make us feel uncomfortable. I stood in complete silence, and my husband told her that we didn’t feel uncomfortable. She went back inside. After we’d smoked our cigarettes, my husband and I went back inside the pub. My uncle gestured to us, to go over to him. My husband went over and I stayed in my seat. A few minutes later, my husband shouted me over and said my Uncle wanted to speak to me.
Because of the position my uncle and his wife have adopted, throughout the family rift, I was acutely aware that they’d only heard one side of the story. My toxic family members’ version of events is so far removed from the truth, it borders on the ridiculous. To them, the whole rift is our fault and they are the victims. Because of their deluded victimhood, I have kept all of the abusive texts we received from them, just in case they are needed at a later date. So on this particular evening, I pulled up a screenshot on my phone, of one of the abusive text messages and showed it to my uncle and his wife. I wanted them to see for themselves, the behaviour of the people they had formed allegiances with. My uncle’s initial reaction was one of surprise (it was clear that the person who sent the text, had been maintaining a facade of innocence to their allies.)
The next reaction from my uncle was “well what has this got to do with me?” It was an honest question, that deserved an honest answer. I explained to him, that his tolerance of their behaviour and his role as passive bystander, put him in as much of a position of guilt as the person who sent the text. There were no raised voices, and the conversation was calm and civil. I even stood a good four to five feet away from them both, while this conversation took place. Both my uncle and his wife explained that they don’t have much contact with the rest of the family, and they weren’t on anyone’s “side.” I disagreed with their statement, and put it to them that my uncle’s wife is best friends with two of my toxic aunts (one of whom, was the sender of the nasty text message), therefore it was my view that she would see them on a regular basis. They maintained their story, and I just left it at that. I didn’t believe them, but arguing about it wouldn’t get us anywhere.
My husband explained that the reason behind the initial fall-out, was due to a culmination of nasty incidents, over a long period of time. Again they disagreed. According to them, we were a functional, loving family who just happened to have disagreements from time to time. I can tell you for the record, that that is absolutely not the case. I couldn’t even count on all of my twenty digits, the incidents of emotional abuse and humiliation that have taken place within that “family”, in the near thirty-two years I’ve been alive. But it was obvious that my uncle and his wife viewed the situation completely differently, so there was nothing to gain from dragging it all up.
So we each stood in silence for a few moments, and tears rolled down my Uncle’s wife’s face. I did actually feel guilty then, that I’d upset her. Before I could reach my hand out to her, she turned to face me. The tears had now disappeared, and anger was etched on her face. “You’re wrong, Caroline!You’re wrong!” she screamed at me. I replied with a defiant “but I’m not wrong. I’m not wrong am I?” Before she threw her drink all over me. My knee-jerk reaction was to throw my drink on her, in retalliation. I’m not proud of myself for that, and I take full responsibility for my actions. She went to grab another drink to throw over me, before my uncle restrained her and dragged (I’m not exaggerating here) her, kicking and screaming from the pub.
Everyone in the pub immediately rushed over, asking why she’d done it. I don’t think I helped calm the situation down by saying “because she’s a fucking psycho,” but again, I take full responsibility for what I said and did that evening. I was absolutely drenched and humiliated. Shortly afterwards, we cut our evening short and went home. While I was in the shower, washing the stale beer and humiliation off my skin, my husband sent a message to my uncle, asking why his wife had done what she did. His response was that I’d been “awful” to her and “insulted” them. So basically, I was to blame for his wife’s violent outburst. I don’t know why I was so surprised with his reply, because I’d always been the scapegoat in every nasty incident that took place within that “family.” On one occasion, I wasn’t even present at a family gathering, yet it was my fault that one of my cousins got drunk, snorted cocaine and proceeded to tell everyone what she thought of them. Apparently, it wasn’t her opinion she was spouting, it was mine. Work that one out.
Me and my husband put the incident in the pub down as a one-off, minor incident and vowed to just put it behind us. That was, until another family member (the one whose text I’d shown to my uncle and his wife), decided to pay us an unfriendly visit the next day. Shortly after midday, my aunt’s car screeched to a halt outside my house, she got out of it and launched herself up my garden path. She hammered furiously on my windows and doors, with her fists and demanded I “get out of my house” and fight her. When I wouldn’t open my door to her, she went round to the back of my house and did the same there. When I still wouldn’t come out of my house and partake in a lovely auntie-niece fist fight, she began hurling abuse at us through my letterbox. We have a front porch, so a lot of what shouted through the letterbox didn’t permeate into the house. I could make out the words “Alex’s death” (Alex was another of my uncles, who passed away five years ago from cancer) “solicitor” and “you’re going down.” My thoughts at the time, were that she’d made a ridiculous statement about me going to prison over my uncle’s death. (Now, my star sign may be cancer, but that doesn’t mean I’m responsible for the actual illness.) I thought she’d lost the plot completely.
My aunt continued to bang her fists on my doors and windows and shout obscenities through my letterbox, so I picked the phone up and called the police. I logged a complaint of harassment and threatening behaviour with them. While I was giving the control room operator my side of the story, my aunt got back in her car and drove away. I was given an incident number, advised that an officer would come to see me that day and told that if my aunt returned to my property, I was to dial 999 immediately. We needed a few things for dinner, so my husband (thinking the coast was clear) went out to the shops. No sooner had he left, my aunt was back to launch another attack on my property. I immediately dialled 999 and reported her return to the police. It was now an emergency.
Eventually, my aunt gave up and left. She didn’t return for a third time. We sat and waited all day and into the early evening, for the police to arrive. At around five o’clock, a police car pulled up outside and an officer knocked at my door. He came in and took a statement from me. He advised me on the procedure for harassment cases and said that as this was the first official incident, he would visit my aunt at her home and issue a warning to her. He left my house, after advising us that he’d contact us by telephone, once he’d issued the warning to my aunt. Later that evening, the police officer called and said he’d attempted to contact my aunt and on both occasions, her house had been unoccupied. He said he would try again, the following evening and update us on his progress. The next evening came and went, without any phone calls from the police. Brilliant.
On the Tuesday morning following the incident, I was taking my youngest son to school, when a neighbour approached me. She asked if everyone was OK, and I told her we were and the police were involved, so there shouldn’t be any more incidents like that in the future. My neighbour then said to me “you might want to contact a solicitor too.” I asked her why, and she replied “didn’t you hear what she shouted through your letterbox?” I shook my head, and then she told me. I can’t even repeat what that vile woman, I used to call auntie said. What I will say, is that what she accused me and my husband of, is quite possibly the worst thing any parent can be accused of. I felt physically sick, when my neighbour repeated my aunt’s vicious words.
I took my son to school, all the while trying to stay calm. How dare she say those vile things? My own flesh and blood, the ones who are supposed to protect you and support you. How could she bring herself to say those things? How could she put my children in such danger? Luckily for us, our neighbours know us well enough to know that her allegation is totally untrue. But what if they didn’t? Would we have found ourselves the targets of vigilantes? Would our children be in care right now? I called my sister, and told her what my neighbour had said to me. Naturally, she hit the roof. She advised me to contact a solicitor and file a suit for harassment and defamation. I hadn’t had any further updates from the police, so she advised me to chase it up with them too. I just felt sick. I think it’ll take a long time, before I’ll ever move on from that vile allegation. If I ever do, that is.
I finished my conversation with my sister and called the police for an update. Their records showed the two attempts at contact from the sunday evening, but no further updates had been made to the log. Great. Now she’s getting away with it. I thought. The operator advised me that the officer in charge of the case would contact me, once they had an update. I felt deflated. I felt that my complaint wasn’t being treated with the seriousness it deserved. I then Googled harassment solicitors in my area, and filled in an online enquiry with one of them.
Around ten minutes later, I received a phone call from the solicitor. Before I could begin to explain the situation to the woman on the phone, she said “before we can even look at your case, we need an upfront fee of £700. Then after that, we charge between £160 to £360 per hour. Harassment cases aren’t covered by legal aid, so we will need full payment from you.” What?!£700 just to file the complaint?! I thought this was scandalous. At least highway robbers had the decency to wear a mask. No wonder people stalk and harass other people. No wonder the victims of harassment move away, take the law into their own hands and even take their own lives. Why is it that the victim should always be the one to suffer? I ended my conversation with the solicitor, feeling completely alone and powerless. I can’t afford to pay that kind of money.
I called my sister back, and told her what the solicitor had told me. Her advice was to hang fire and wait to see if the police dealt with it. At this point, I had lost all faith in that happening. I was angry, upset and humiliated by the whole situation. A part of me had wished I’d just gone outside that Sunday, and given my aunt the fight she so badly wanted. But I couldn’t think that way. If I’d have done that, the full weight of the law would’ve been on my shoulders. Not to mention the fact that it would’ve resolved nothing, other than to prove my toxic family’s story of me being the volatile person in the situation. I had to calm down and think clearly.
On the Friday morning, I received a phone call from the officer in charge. He’d been to see my aunt, the previous Monday evening. He said she had a rant a him, and it was clear to him that a bitter family feud was taking place. The thing is, the bitterness wasn’t from our side, it was from theirs. We hadn’t initiated any contact with them, in the year following the initial fall out. And we certainly hadn’t attacked them in public, or in their homes. The police officer informed me that he’d issued his first warning to my aunt and explained the consequences to her, if she ever harassed us again. So I guess that was something. At least the incident is now on official records.
I’m still looking into the possibility of pursuing a civil case against my aunt. It may come to the point, that I’ll need to borrow the money to fund my suit. I’m not entirely sure how this will play out. All I know, is that I want this war to end.