I and my husband moved in with his mother to take care of her 12 years ago and she is now 84. I am stuck I can't leave HELP IM GOING INSANE!


She is full blooded Chippewa Indian. Over the years she has repeatedly told me she hates me because I am white and I'm not good enough for her son. She gets very verbally and recently physically abusive. I take care of her 24/7 with her son my husband. She follows me around the house criticizing me on everything I do, sometimes laughing evily and putting me down because of my physical disability. I have adult scoliosis and walk slightly bent but I still clean house and feed the dogs and cat outside and do laundry etc. One time I was outside feeding her and my dogs and I was in alot of pain when I get back from that. It's a good four hundred feet from where I was starting at the front door and she shut the door and locked it and then continued to laugh until my husband came home and he saw me outside and finally got in. Lately when I have started ignoring her when she is like this she has grabbed my arm at the skin and digs her nails pinching my underarm. Even though we buy the food and pay the utilities I am not allowed to cook myself anything or get anything from the fridge or cupboards until my husband comes home in not allowed to eat what she cooks but I have to make sure she shuts the stove top off and doesn't burn anything as she is leaving pans on the stove top and if I try to move it she yells and if it is burning and I move it off the burner its my fault it burnt. I have taken to isolating myself in my room with a fridge AND everything I need so I don't have to go into her part of the house. The only time I am worth breathing her air as she puts it is when I give her extra money or help her with paperwork as I am her advocate also other then that I'm a waste of air. So I wake up every day and think of a way to please her so I'm not shut up in my room even the bathroom is near her room I walk on egg shells 24/7. My husband is sympathetic, but he is caught in the middle and it is against his family heritage to put a parent in a nursing home. So I am stuck I can't leave HELP IM GOING INSANE!

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OMG Kathy324
I would leave the old bat to fend for herself to hell with that!

Tradition was shot in the as when he married a white woman. My SILs mother would not even attend the wedding because my brother wasn't Native. He needs to step up and let mommy know that she behaves appropriately or you both move on and she can live with (insert family member) or go to a NH. He is as guilty of the abuse as she is as long as he doesn't intervene to protect you. You need to do some serious soul searching and have a heart to heart with your husband.

Best of luck, Tribal issues are very one-sided, your Indian or your not. I am speaking from personal experience.

Is it her house? Or the husband's house?

kathy324- you should change your name to Cinderella because that's who you are EXCEPT your prince is enabling the evil stepmother to keep you a slave.

What is the definition of slavery, sweetie? 'Cause I think you're in it....

I'm kinda calling b.s. on hubby's refusal to take some kind of action. I'd take particular note of him saying it's part of his FAMILY heritage, rather than part of his CULTURAL heritage, to keep elder parents at home. That means it's a family decision. Well, we all break with family tradition on some things, and I'd bet you can name a few other things he's done differently than his ancestors.

As a member of the Ojibwe/Chippewa nation, he is part of a patrilineal heritage, rather than a matrilineal one (as with many other indigenous nations). So if his father is deceased, and he is the eldest or only son, that makes him the head of the family, not his mother. That means it's his job to protect ALL the members of his family, and also that he has the right to make decisions about his mother's care. It also means all of the decisions around which family traditions to follow and which to break with are up to him. As long as he is not breaking the laws of the Ojibwe/Chippewa nation (you don't say whether you are living on or off reserve), he is actually free to break with any particular tradition, and still be true to his heritage.

Realistically, since he has the freedom to leave the home during the day, he has put the burden of her care on you. He KNOWS she is abusing you, and still he leaves you alone with her. Okay, maybe he has a job to go to. It STILL wouldn't be okay to leave a vulnerable person alone with an abusive one, let alone expect them to do the work of caring for their abuser. Even where keeping elder parents at home is part of cultural tradition, I don't know of any indigenous community where this scenario would be considered okay, frankly. He should be working with his extended family and his community to find another solution to caring for his mother, one that doesn't involve you being harmed.

It sounds to me like he is too afraid of his mother to take a stand, to be honest, and is using "heritage" as an excuse for that. And if he cannot, or will not, protect you from her, then you need to think about whether or not you want to be there, and maybe take your own stand.

Oh....it's her house. Can you and your husband move out and arrange for social services or a doctor to do an evaluation for his mother. That might help take you out of the picture as making decisions. Also....are their other members of the family willing to step in and help take care of her if you both move out.

I am angry for you. You are being physically and emotionally abused.
If your husband won't stand up for you (and have his mother placed in a facility), then I foresee divorce in your future.

I would start documenting some of your MIL's behavior.

How about divorce? Does that fit in with his family heritage? Does his mother's abusive behavior fit in with his cultural heritage? Is it part of his heritage that men allow their mothers to mistreat their wives?

Somehow I think that using "cultural heritage" to defend this situation is totally bogus.

I suggest that you get some counseling and find out why you think so little of yourself that you are willing to be locked out of your home and to walk on eggshells all the time.

Sorry - you say your husband is sympathetic. In what way, is he sympathetic?

I would like to understand what definition of the word sympathetic includes permitting the verbal, emotional and physical abuse of your spouse under your roof.

And, okay, if you're not expecting anything to change on that point, what about this: you say you have to safeguard your MIL, making sure for example that she does not set a fire in the kitchen.

But you're not doing that, are you? You're shutting yourself away from her. So MIL is not being protected, either.

Maybe you've been broken down so badly over twelve years that you can't see it. But you're supporting this woman financially, you are keeping her safe, you are her advocate, she is 84 years old - you are the responsible, controlling adult in this relationship. It is up to you to decide how it works.

Stop trying to please her, and instead write a new book of House Rules. Make them reasonable, make them respectful of her legitimate cultural values, get your husband to agree them in his mother's presence, and make them a condition of her remaining in your marital home.