ASK ANU: ‘He finds a million ways to torture my sister’

In this weekly self-help series, mental health and life coach Anu Krishna tells you how to take control of your life.

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Every week, Anu will answer your queries, address your concerns and offer expert advice on how you can take control of your life.

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  • ASK ANU: How NOT To Talk To Your Teen
  • ASK ANU: Stressed by online classes? Seek help!
  • ASK ANU: How to leave a toxic relationship

Dear readers, if you have a question for Anu, please e-mail it to [email protected] (Subject: Ask ANU) for her advice.

Meanwhile, here’s the unedited excerpt from Anu’s latest offline session with readers:

Selvi T: Dear Anu,
Hope you are doing well!
I happened to read few of your articles on family issues hence thought of seeking advice on a very complicated family issue of mine.
This is going to be really big email… sorry I badly need help!
My elder sister is married for close to 8 years now.
It’s an arranged marriage and she is married to very big family of three sisters and two brothers….
My sister’s husband been the last one in the family…
Since Day One of the marriage her sisters-in-law would interfere in every little thing that happens in my sister’s and her husband’s life. Literally everything and her life is miserable now…
These three ladies never let his elder brother’s wife as well to stay with her husband and now she lives separately fearing his sisters. And it’s the same with my sister’s life as well.
It is an arranged marriage with an age gap of 10 years between my sister and her husband…
Since Day One he would pick up silly fights with my sister and emotionally blackmail her…
I’m not sure if he was really into the marriage…. He always complains about my sister, ill-treats her and constantly keep asking her to divorce him.

He listens to his sisters and humiliates her.
My parents have been looking after my sister’s needs even after marriage — phone recharges, dresses and even sanitary napkins.
He has never spent money for my sister’s basic needs.
She has to do all house chores like washing, mopping and cleaning…. And his sister will just cook and leave… they have never let my sister to cook but complain to everyone that she doesn’t want to do house chores.
I have seen my sister (when I stayed with her for two days just see what was happening in the house) she wakes up at 4 am to sweep the garden mess which is close to half an acre. Then mop the house, wash vessels and clothes.
She will be exhausted by the time she finishes all the work and when she finally sits to eat, the in-laws will taunt her and she has starved without eating for days.

When she discussed this with her husband, he’d ignore or argue with her not to say anything bad about his sisters.
Our upbringing back home was very different. We grew up around house helps who helped us with chores but my sister didn’t complain about that as well. She said ‘in laws’ house is way different than mom’s place.’ It hurts to see my sister this way.
All his three sisters rarely stay at their homes, instead they prefer staying at my sister’s place and cause troubles between the husband and wife.
He treats my sister like a slave.
If she doesn’t do what he asks her to do he says ‘sign the divorce papers and leave.’
According to him, my sister should never visit her mom’s place. If she has to visit, she has to seek his permission and he will decide whether she can go or not and for how many days. If she stays back a day longer, he would pick up a fight. Even if he is in a different city she has to stay at her in-laws place.
He works in army as a subhedhar. We have huge respect for people in the Army, that’s the reason my sister was married to him despite the difference in age.
And when my sister first gave birth to her son he said the most cruel thing any man could say.
She had a C-section so he said, “You are lame, you haven’t done anything big or great, you had an operation, you easily cut open and gave birth.
What pain do you think you have when you give birth in anesthesia?”

He would humiliate her in front of family members and friends, colleagues…
We have advised her to leave him, find a job, to look after herself and the kids. We will support her. But she is not confident enough. She is so used to being dependent that she is scared of taking the big step fearing her kids’ future.
She has been tolerating him more than any human can tolerate also because she is financially dependent on him.
She has two kids, aged six and three.
If she divorces him, she is worried about the kids’ schooling.
As he is in the Army he will be moving to different cities every two years.
In these 8 years of marriage, they have hardly been together for a year or more.
He never took her to any deputed locations. She has to stay here in Kolar with her in-laws and he would visit her annually. My sister has to bear the brunt of the entire family.
He will call my sister only if his sister permits, otherwise he will stay without calling her for months.
My parents were also bearing all of his attitude for a few years until things went out of hand. Even after having 2 kids his attitude didn’t change.
So my parents had to intervene.
This pathetic man would find millions of ways to torture my sister mentally and physically.
She was a silent and reserved kid in our family. Now she is so used to his behaviour that she is okay to live with him just for the sake of her kids. We are not that well off. My dad is a retired official who gets very little money as pension. So my parents are worried who will take care of her and kids after them if in case we file a divorce. Will alimony work here?
There is no peace in our family.
My parents are old and struggling with their health issues. And now there is so much of mental pressure due to all of this.
After so much struggle and arguments, he finally took my sister with him to his current deputed location for 6 to 8 months. Again upon his sisters’ insistence he left his 6 year old kid with his sister and family and forced my sister to come with him or sign the divorce papers.
And my foolish sister who didn’t know what to do left her 6 year old kid with his sister in law family and went with her husband taking the another kid. Now she is crying day and night thinking about her kid.
I went on with a huge argument with him asking what is the need for a child to leave his parents and study at his aunt’s place. Since he is in the Army, changing schools should not be so difficult; he is your own kid and blood. How can you leave him alone there? He said, ‘My son will study wherever I ask him to.’
When I asked him why he forced my sister to come with him leaving the kid with his sisters, he used cuss words and asked me to mind my own business. I lost my cool and said that he is acting brainless. He reminded me that he is the Army and no one can do anything to him. He said I could raise a complaint and cut the call.
Now he has set rules that no one should visit or see his son. When my parents went to visit their own grandchild recently, his sisters did not allow them.
I have been telling my parents to lodge a complaint against this man. But my parents feel that he is their son in law. Anything we do would affect my sister’s life and brushed it aside. They’d rather convince my sister and send her back to live with the pyscho.
Now they have realised and are repenting for not complaining about him earlier.
Please advise us how to move further because whoever we consulted regarding this told us that we cannot complain about this. Only my sister can complain. She is scared of him and fears to lodge a complaint. She is in a different city now and wouldn’t be able to do so.
Is that right? Can’t a grieving parent, grandparent or sister like me who is worried to the core about her sister’s and cousins life complain against this saddest man?
Is divorce advisable in this case or are we overdoing it?
Should we lodge a police complaint? Can we write to his superior?
It is possible that he might file a defamation case against us?
I literally have no clue what to do or where to seek help. Please help me save my sister from this pathetic marriage.
Awaiting your response.

Dear ST,

If you and your parents know what has been going on, why did you not think of lodging a police complaint against your sister’s husband and his family for mental harassment?

What exactly are you waiting for?

Your sister has become used to this misery and sometimes this misery is familiar, and women are willing to put up with it for fear of societal backlash and being a burden on parents.

Which family separates a mother from a child?

Which family entertains the interference of sisters-in-law so much? I am unable to still understand why they would do such a thing.

And to top it all, our country has a huge mass of parents who believe that a daughter once married is the property of her husband. Which only means that he and his family can ill-treat her the way they wish, and the parents cite an excuse of being old and having no money to take care of her if she comes back.

Please, my humble appeal to each parent who have daughters crying out for help…bring them back home; at least they will have a chance to live and live a dignified life. She is still your daughter.

What if she wasn’t married? Would your parents throw all their children out saying that they are poor?

The reason your sister is hesitating to leave the man is perhaps she feels like a burden to your parents.

The first step is to become her strength by welcoming her back; society and her husbands’ family can be taken care of.

Hire a good lawyer who can take care of legal matters if it goes the divorce way.

Divorce or not is your sister and her husband’s decision.

Let her have some time away from her husband and his family. It might help her gain some objectivity and make a wise decision.

So, first you and your parents welcome her back…the rest can wait.

All the best!

S: I am 53 and my wife is 45. I never felt happy with my marriage.
She suffers from OCD but is very intelligent. She has never done any cooking in these 23 years of our marriage.
I cook and do household chores in case domestic help does not turn up.

She brings me to suicidal tendency blaming my mother, my brother etc…
She has never allowed my mother to stay with me, and also makes me lose interest in her. But her father is a very good man. I love him and feel like having sex with him though I am also a male. How much ever I ask her to come back to normalcy she does not. I am confused.
My only son is 23 years old. I do not want him to think that he is disturbed. She does not understand others’ state of mind. Please help me.

Dear S,

Your situation is a bit complicated as I don’t have enough information to build on.

  • How do you know that she suffers from OCD? Has an expert diagnosed this?
  • Is the trouble in your marriage because of your confused sexual orientation?
  • Have you felt attracted to your wife at some point as well?

To me, it seems like both of you need to visit an expert who will not just help you deal with your marriage but also guide you to work on your sexual orientation which could also have led to matters going sour between you and your wife.

Like I said, things don’t add up much to me and I have tried to point you in a direction that might help you move into a solution space.

For more clarity, I do suggest getting in touch with an expert who can guide you ably and help get your life back on track.

All the best!

LM: Dear Madam
I had a relationship with my childhood friend until last year. We both got married to different people.
Due to some misunderstanding, he is not talking to me right now.
I tried to contact him through social media but there has been no response from his side.
My intention is to continue with our friendship.
His thoughts are torturing me badly and I am suffering with depression these days. I am trying to get out of this. But I’m unable to do so.
Help me out, what should I do now?

Dear LM,

There is a reason for him ‘ghosting’ you.

Was your ‘relationship’ one sided?

Was he clear that he was not in any sort of commitment with you?

Did you at any point think that this might be a long haul one?

Sometimes, people believe relationships are meant to last forever.

Nice fairy tales they fool themselves with and then build expectations up and then drive into a well of foolish decisions only to realise that they have led themselves to self-pity to play a victim.

This is what you are doing to yourself.

Rise above and know that he isn’t interested anymore. Who are you crying over? Who are you waiting for? And is he worth spoiling your state of mind?

Start by de-focusing…

  • Put away all stuff that holds his memories
  • Be with your friends who can support you
  • Eat and sleep well and on time
  • Pick up a new hobby or learn a new language to divert the attention

And you don’t have depression unless clinically diagnosed.

You are just feeling low and sad, and it will slowly fade away. Have faith but take the first step to make yourself feel better.

All the best!

KK: Dear ma’am, I really appreciate you helping the community getting mentally healthy.
I feel very complicated and sleepless. Please help.
I am 45, male. My whole life, as I remember, I have been taken advantage of — by friends, parents, siblings.
I am sensitive, I have anger but I cannot talk back or stand up for myself and try to adjust, move on, simmer within, not to talk back to elders (or anybody).
If I talk back I get so much guilt, and maybe so continue to be taken advantage of.

I have had many soft abuse/humiliation/pressure episodes with friends/family that are stuck and stuck; but those don’t happen since I am grown-up, plus people are no more around. I feel I got damaged that way.
But financially since the last 20 years — relatives, friends, father, siblings have cheated me loaning money with false promises and they don’t take care about their loan responsibility and live their sporty life. Here I feel like a beggar the whole time enquiring about getting my own stuck money back, getting false promises, false reasons, hundreds of those conversations, also sometimes making me feel guilty in reverse (what is your money urgency type?) to ask my own money back.
Those people are still around.
The total runs in many lakhs just principal and nominal interest also will run that much. I don’t have energy deal those people, negativity, bad values that comes along. So last few years, I just kept mum, on surface smile (internally bad memories). But that is bu**sh**

Six months ago, I decided and started cutting off those people for good. I don’t need negativity. I have enough savings. I felt relaxed that I at least mentally I took that hard decision.
But other side, it is so difficult as they are close people, family, friends — I am bound to see them at family functions, my mom/wife/kids talk with some, they may call them home also etc.
I feel afraid and super angry to even see their face, and even if they hypothetically return money — I don’t feel like accepting it also; let them remain cut off from my life.

Plus I suffer from depression since 15 years (on/off medicines) that mom/kids don’t know, wife cannot really empathize.
I just feel too weak.
Did I do the right thing to cut off people and stick to that decision in future? How to face them in life then?

Dear KK,

The reason why people bend backwards to do things for people and have trouble saying NO is because they worry not being loved by others or getting their attention.

Maybe they also worry about being alone because others might reject them if a boundary is drawn.

So, find out why you have been allowing these people (family and friends) take advantage of you.

When will you find the strength to respect and value yourself?

Once you do, others will do that as well and not complain about you standing up for yourself. And there is no need to hold onto people by being nice to them by loaning money. Are they going to lie you for the money or for who you are?

Work with the person who has prescribed medicines for your depression on the deep-rooted cause for your poor self-esteem which makes you depend on others to make you feel good or feel anger when you see them.

Till you work on these, your connection with your family will be a struggle. So, help yourself first by taking care of your emotional health.

All the best!

SD: I am sick due to mental illness Schizophrenia.
I am unable to think properly. I studied up to BA but could not pass.
I am unmarried at 53 and under psychiatric treatment since 1988. Is there any way to lead a peaceful life?

Dear SD,

I can only imagine what you have been through so far. Be in touch with your psychiatrist who can guide you appropriately.

I also suggest some Behavioural Therapist who can monitor you closely from time to time which puts you at ease with day to day and regular activities with least amount of stress.

Meditate regularly and have a larger social circle who can be a part of your journey as well.

Life can be peaceful the way you can find peace with what IS.

So, never make the mistake of comparing your life with anyone else but be within your self to appreciate all the good things that you have and live with.

Being in gratitude brings in a lot of peace to anyone who is struggling with a situation.

Be happy and train yourself to see the good in every situation.

  • Read all of Anu Krishna’s columns here!

Anu Krishna is a mind coach, author and co-founder, Unfear Changemakers LLP and Soulful Exploration LLP. She’s an NLP Trainer (National Federation of Neuro Linguistic Programming, NFNLP, USA), Energy Work Specialist (Institute for Inner Studies, Manila), Executive Member of Indian Association of Adolescent Health (M.I.A.A.H) and Member of Quality Circle Forum of India (QCFI). She has authored the self-coaching book: The Secret of Life – Decoding Happiness.

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