My brother-in-law may be back on drugs, or possibly beginning to show symptoms of mental illness. He's recently become verbally abusive to my mother-in-law. He's also been invited up for Christmas with the rest of the in-laws. Of course, things are complicated.
First off, I am the partner of the person who wrote this question: How to handle my brother being raped
, and it is the rape victim, let's call him John, who has become abusive.
John is a recovering cocaine addict and is still an alcoholic. He's a thirty-year old burly guy from a small town, and is completely uninterested in therapy or getting help for his addiction, which he doesn't acknowledge. He says that only "women and sissy gays" go to therapy. He has a very manly career, no health insurance, and lives with his mother and younger brother in their small, rural town.
Since I've known him, he hasn't seemed like a bad guy. When I first met him he was still on drugs and I was a little scared of him. But since then, he got off drugs, threw himself more into his career, takes care of things around the house, and, from our outsider's position, seems like a fairly decent guy. I was really impressed with him kicking his drug habit. Sure, we'd see him drink some, and yes, he smokes some pot, but we never saw him become belligerent, much less violent.
We didn't know the extent of his abuse until recently. A few weeks ago we found out about ongoing physical abuse against his younger brother. We knew John was sometimes cruel to him, but didn't realize how bad it was. Two weeks ago, out of the blue, he began verbally abusing my mother-in-law. She told us some things he said (she's fat, a horrible cook, etc.) but couldn't bear to say the worst things. We also found out that he's actively going to bars and being belligerent, apparently to get into fights. We always knew he drank, but I don't think either of us realized what a problem it was for him.
My mother-in-law is convinced she can get him committed against his will, since he refuses to see a mental health professional. Their family has a history of mental illness, and she's convinced that he's losing his grasp on reality. She sees his story of the rape, along with other crazy-ish things he's said, as evidence of this. She can try to kick him out, but he has little money and no where to go, and I worry he'd become violent with her.
Christmas is, for the first time, to be held at our house this year. It's our son's first Christmas, and we're so super excited about it. My partner's family, John included, has been invited to come up for it. John is so unstable right now. We don't know what has caused the sudden change in his behavior (although I suspect he's back on cocaine) but I know it's nothing I want around my son. But on the other hand, he's had a horribly traumatic
experience recently, and being uninvited from his family's Christmas won't help.
I go back and forth from just pretending like things are ok until Christmas is over with, to demanding my partner uninvite him, to cancelling Christmas all together and buying plane tickets to the Bahamas. I am genuinely scared for the safety of my mother and brother-in-law, and now, for my own family, especially my son. Right now, I do not want him in my house. I even wish he didn't know where we lived. But I may be overreacting.
So, I guess this question has two parts. My partner and I have very little power here, but we can try to give advice to help out her mom and younger brother. What can they do? Can her mom really forcibly commit him to a mental institution? And what should we do about Christmas? Thanks so much in advance for your help.