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