I have a family friend, who I consider to be like an aunt. She is in her 60s and ran an art organization until her employees quit( after her negligence with bring profit and ect.). We are living with 3 other people, all in their 40s and up. When i moved in me and my ‘aunt’ were only planning on being here for a few months until we were able to save more money and get an apartment closer to where she wants to live/ where I’m transferring for college. The 3 other roommates dont clean, nor take care of their cat and almost starve and leave her waste out to stink. When I finally had enough I addressed it, and 2 of the roommates decided to move out because I was not going to compromise living with roaches or working all day and then being the only one who cleans the house. After talking among themselves they decided to stay, and thats when things went south. In response, I started working more hours and working out outside of that so that I could focus on our goal of moving out. My aunt was on board with me until the other roommates started to say mean things about me, which made me very uncomfortable because they are twice my age. One day i went to the store with ML(aunt) and I specifically asked her to not eat the food that i was buying separate (dietary issues), she agreed. The next day when I woke up for my 5am shift my lunch had been eaten! I had to hurry to work so I texted her and asked if she could please buy back what she ate. She sent angry text about me being selfish, ect. There have been many more situations like this, and it’s getting really hard to live in an environment where now everyone (all twice my age or more) pick apart even my phone conversations and yell about who they think i am. Im not sure how to respond, so I ignore it and stay focused however my stuff gets damaged, and i cant speak up without being turned into the “enemy”. Im not sure how to handle this situation, especially on a daily basis.
If you want anything to change, then you can’t ignore your aunt’s problematic behavior. Ignoring it only increases the probability of it continuing. You may be ignoring it because you don’t have time to deal with it or you simply don’t want to be confrontational. Though it may be easier to ignore the problem behavior, doing so could encourage it. Eventually, it in order to properly rectify it, you’ll have to deal with it directly.
To effectively correct this issue, you have two choices: 1) enforce the rules and risk her getting angry or 2) ask her to leave. If you go with the first choice, she may get very upset. She may call you names and so forth, but if you want the behavior to change, then it is important to stand your ground.
The second choice may be much more difficult but it may be the best solution to this problem. Generally speaking, you should never tolerate abusive behavior. You shouldn’t nor should anyone else. Often, people engage in abusive behavior because they can. I’m not blaming you for what is happening because she sounds like a person willing to take advantage of other people, but whether or not you tolerate abusive behavior is within your control. Don’t let people take advantage of you and they won’t.
Sometimes people become victims of abuse inadvertently because they don’t want to be confrontational or come across as difficult. They may worry about what other people think of them or about hurting someone else’s feelings but in doing so, they can leave themselves open to abuse. This may or may not be what is occurring in your situation.
Let your aunt know where you stand. You can be direct without having to be confrontational. The word confrontational often conjures up an image of aggressively yelling at another person. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can simply state your position without being angry or yelling. Calmly tell her how you feel. If she’s unwilling to follow the rules, then you may have to separate.
If you have access to a local community mental health center, you might consult a therapist about how to best remedy these interpersonal issues. Dealing with people isn’t easy. It would be helpful to have the guidance of a therapist who can assist you in resolving these issues with your aunt and others. Community mental health centers often have therapists who assist individuals even if they do not have funds or insurance to cover the cost of sessions. Contact your local agency to see what assistance may be available. Good luck with your efforts. Thank you for writing.
Dr. Kristina Randle