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611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

NurseWise 24-Hr Crisis Line
1-866-495-6735

NAZCARE Warm Line
1-888-404-5530


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Ask Dr. SchwartzAsk Dr. Schwartz:
Psychotherapy and Mental Health questions

Did I push them too much?

Fri, Oct 17th 2008

My sister is 27 years old and still lives at home with my parents with her 2 year old daughter. Growing up at home was difficult. My mom drank for much of my childhood and she quit around the time I was 12 years old. My dad is very controlling, verbally abusive and occasionally physically abusive towards my sister. Since the birth of my niece he has choked my sister twice. He once tried to commit suicide (through a massive dose of antidepressants) when my mom wanted to go out to a dinner that was for her office only (no spouses). Sometimes when my mom and I make plans to go shopping, he comes along too and seems very jealous of my mom's time. My concern now is how my niece is being treated. My father will scream at her and then deny that he does it. My sister will scream at her and also deny that she does it. My sister has had multiple issues and the latest diagnosis is borderline personality (and I agree). My sister and my father have gotten into a fight where she threw a soft shoe (croc-type shoes) at my father and it hit my niece. I was furious but my mom promised to take care of it. That last incident with the shoe was about 6 months ago and things have calmed down (like usual - they classically cycle through the abuse cycle). I was on the phone with my sister the other day and I heard him scream at my niece. My sister then screamed at my father and my dad threw something at her. To top it all off, I found out that my sister is seeing the father of my niece again (the same guy who hit her with a telephone in the face and left a bruise). My mom doesn't know what to do and I lost my cool and told her that our childhood was pretty lousy and that it is her responsibility to call Children and Youth Services and have them step in. My mom is afraid that my sister, living on her own, would be worse to my niece. My mom feels that if she is there, she can at least protect this little girl. I feel that doing the same thing over and over isn't making a difference - and in fact, things are worse for my niece than they were for us, I think. The problem is, I feel horrible about talking to my mom they way I did. I am normally the calm one, but I was very agitated when I talked to her about it. I felt it was important to tell her that our childhood was difficult and that I wanted better for my niece - but by saying that, she was very hurt. I feel bad, but if she is in denial, what else could I do? I didn't rant and rave or be insulting and I told her I knew she did the best she could and that I loved her - but she still hung up and when I talked to her the next day, she pretty much cried on and off for the few minutes we were on the phone and said how hurt she was. What else can I do? What could I have done?

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