I Can't Just Watch It Anymore! (Updated)
This will be long and I hope you will read through most of it. I really need some help for my nieces. I'm not sure where to begin with it all, because I haven't really been keeping track of everything going on since my sister Angel met her new husband, Jason. As events transpire, I'm starting to think I should have been keeping detailed records.
My nieces are no longer the happy, healthy, vibrant girls they were just a year ago. They are now morose, skittish, pale and lethargic. Every time we see them, they are seeking out moments when they can get us alone to tell us what has been going on. I'll try to get down all the tidbits they are able to tell us.
- They are no longer allowed to make phone calls unless my sister or her husband are listening in on speakerphone.
- My nieces are no longer allowed to speak to me, because their mom and Jason are angry that I will not attend their wedding. Quick back story, they are already married and this is the second time my sister has married without telling anyone for several months. The first time was less than two weeks after our dad died!
- My nieces' dad, who used to call several times a week, is now being denied phone calls... he can only talk to them on weekends when he has custody. Their dad contacted police and was told this is within their rights.
- My sister and her husband are denying the girls' father phone calls because he brought them to my house so I could see them.
- The girls were interrogated and then punished when they found out about the above visit.
- I have yet to witness Jason actually speak in a normal tone to the girls; he always yells.
- They are not allowed to let anyone into the house, even if it is someone they know or is expected. My sister or her husband are the only ones allowed to open the door.
- When my sister gets home from work she and her husband take their new baby into their bedroom, lock the door, and stay there all night. My nieces are expected to remain in their rooms all evening.
- My nieces have said Jason has not yet had a job this entire time (despite tons open in his field of expertise), sits playing video games all day while they do all chores (they're both under 10 years old), and then yells at their mom for not getting the house clean before she goes to work.
- Jason has a daughter from a previous relationship. Apparently, she can do no wrong in his eyes. She is rarely punished and if she is it is a fraction of the time. A recent example (witnessed by my mom) was that the girls didn't pick up their toys "fast enough." His daughter was punished 2 days... the girls for 2 months.
- A toy of their new baby was broken. My sister fixed it and said it was okay to use. My niece was playing with the baby and the toy. Jason punished my niece for using the "broken toy" with the baby. My niece told Jason that her mom said it was okay, but she still got punished... even though her mom was right there and witnessed it.
- My niece's punishment for the above infraction? She's not allowed to touch her baby sister for six months! Who takes away a sibling as punishment?!
First update: Thank you all for the advice and support. I convinced my sister to let me take the girls out for a fun day today. I was actually shocked she okayed it... I think it threw her off when I called out of the blue. She answered with a snappy "What?" and by the end was almost pleasant.
We'll go to lunch, go to the park, do some shopping... and give the girls a chance to tell their side. I plan to get more solid info from the girls and write it down. Everything I've read said to get as much info gathered and written as I could, which has been hard up to this point. I will then contact CPS with what I have. My mom and their dad both know my plan and will also be calling CPS with their own accounts of events.
I just hope the girls do not end up punished for the choices I make as this goes forward.
Second update: The day out with my nieces went very well. It felt good to give them a day of fun. It also raised more concerns as bits of information came out throughout the day. I wrote a post on my blog with more details. Basically, there is clear neglect and I more strongly support the drug theory. One thing I forgot to mention above and in my blog post was a comment Jason made to the girls... "It is a wife's duty to spend more time with her husbands than her kids. He is more important." Ugh! He's such a child!
At the time of that post I was still undecided, but I made the decision to make the call to CPS this morning. It was not very encouraging. It honestly felt like she didn't take me seriously... like I was wasting her time. I will not give up. I have asked their dad and grandparents to make similar calls with their own information and to keep those calls going in whenever they have a concern.
Their dad has made several attempts to get at least 50/50 custody, but my sister and her husband are extremely dependant on the child support. They keep finding ways to bait him into yelling or threatening... and then they call the police. It doesn't look good. He is working on his case, though. He went back to school and got a degree. He found a new, more stable job. He's taking anger management classes. He's doing all that his lawyer recommends as far as custody goes.
The idea of my sister being an abused wife is valid looking at the evidence, but knowing my sister the way I do makes it hard for me to grasp. I'd have believed it easily if someone said she was the abuser. She had always been wonderful with her daughters, but she can be very manipulative and cruel to others. Now I'm sseing even her daughters are not immune. She has shown signs of mental issues over the years, but she is one that believes mental illness is just an excuse. When diagnosed with depression, she shrugged it off and changed doctors.
Many have questioned why I hadn't called yet. It is because I grew up with a mom who had been severely abused as a child and teen. The stories she's shared of the years were horrific. Anytime they were investigated, it my my mom and her siblings that took the punishment... even if none of them were responsible for the report. My mom is still suffering physically and mentally from what happened to her as a child. A few replies here also mentioned similar experiences. I could not handle it if I was the one to directly cause them to come into harm. I hope I have made the right decision.