Wife Says Brother Intentionally Triggered Husband's PTSD & Now her Family Thinks He's Dangerous

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Navigating tense relations between family members and your spouse is never easy, but for a woman who posted in the Relationship Advice subreddit, it's even more challenging. She explained that her husband is a veteran and has severe PTSD, and he's had an ongoing conflict with her brother. The tension recently hit a boiling point when the Redditor's brother went out of his way at a family gathering to trigger his brother-in-law. Now, the woman's family is asking her to choose between them and her marriage.

  • The OP noted that her husband "has been in therapy for a while and is doing better, but he still struggles."

    She also made the point to say that he has never made her feel unsafe. But her relatives have a bone to pick with the whole situation. "My whole family is aware of John's issues and as a result don't really like him, they feel like I'm 'wasting my time' helping him through this instead of finding someone flawless and without issue, I guess," she wrote. "Including my younger brother, who we'll call Rick. Rick is the baby of the family, and an a--hole. My family has sheltered and made excuses for him for as long as I can remember."

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  • Rick and John previously got along, according to the OP.

    But after her brother stayed on their couch and got a gentle scolding for leaving doors unlocked, he's "made it his mission to treat John's PTSD as something to be messed with for his own amusement (e.g jumping out and yelling when he sees him.)." 

    She continued, "As a result, John makes a point to avoid Rick, which my family seems to think is unreasonable."

    This was tough to do during an outdoor family gathering this past week, according to the Redditor.

  • Her husband and brother clashed over the latter using vulgar language around the kids who were present.

    "Rick is talking to a teenage cousin of mine and dropping several extremely crude swear words. John, who was playing with the kids, tells him that there are children nearby and to have some respect for the occasion," the OP recalled. "This turns into an argument with Rick mocking my husband, and my husband basically telling him to grow up. Rick stormed off, got in his car and left."

    But that wasn't the end of the conflict. "About 20 minutes later, Rick shows back up, and hangs out across the yard so we think it's over," noted the Redditor. "Out of nowhere, Rick sneaks up behind John and pushes a cap gun I later found out he had just gone to the store to purchase into his back and clicks it, firing off a loud 'pop.'"

  • The OP's husband then shoved her "hard behind a table, out of what he thought was danger." She ended up hitting her head.

    "I remember standing up to see several of my family members pulling my husband, who was in hysterics, off of Rick," wrote the OP. "I remember seeing my husband wrestle the cap gun from Rick and hit him several times. I remember physically cradling my husband and walking him out to the car as he was inconsolable. Cops weren't called, as Rick has a criminal history. I ended up needing stitches in my head."

  • In the aftermath, John has been "an absolute wreck, blaming himself" for her injury and the discord in the family. 

    Meanwhile, the OP's family has been threatening to cut her off unless she divorces John. 

    "[They're] telling me that he's violent and dangerous, and that by staying with someone who would attack my brother over 'a little ribbing,' I don't value my family," wrote the Redditor. "Most of them can get f---ed, but I love my parents, and they're agreeing with everyone. They specifically told me that John created 'a spectacle,' and they can't condone me living with him anymore. Rick has left me voicemails apologizing to me, but saying he was just trying to show me what 'John is really like.' They use my head injury as proof that he's abusive. I feel like they're all trying to gaslight me into seeing Rick as the victim, but, at the same time, I'm terrified of losing my family."

    The OP concluded that she has no intention of leaving her husband, turning it over to the community to ask what she can do to preserve the relationship with her parents.

  • Commenters overwhelmingly sided with the OP and encouraged her to see just how toxic her family's behavior has been.

    One wrote, "The family are enablers. They are enabling Rick who has started an active campaign to torment someone with a diagnosed mental health issue. ... They've chosen to enable and condone Rick. They've chosen to push you away. Make that clear: If they keep enabling Rick, you will always be unhappy and that is on him and them."

    Another shared, "OP, you need to cut your family off. Including your parents. No contact. I know that's not what you want, but until they can apologize and respect your family, that's the best course of action. It will be hard, but they need to apologize to you and your husband. They also need to stop condoning your brother's s--- behavior. Spoiler alert, they probably won't, so don't hold your breath. Your brother is the golden child. Your parents need a hard line to understand how horrible they are being."

    A third noted, "Friend, you have already lost your family. They made a choice, and I am so sorry, but they didn't choose you. If they had, they would take joy in you finding love, and honor the family you have made with your husband, and they would worry about him just as much as they say they worry about you. If people ask, all you need to say is that your family abused your husband. And let's not forget- his first instinct was to make sure YOU were out of the line of fire. It's your turn to put HIM first."

  • The OP is clearly faced with a difficult, heartbreaking decision.

    Setting boundaries with family members is never easy. With hope, the overwhelming support from the Reddit community will give the OP the strength she needs to make it clear to her family where she stands: with the man who defended her life, as opposed to the relatives who are adding undue, toxic stress.