SRS What would you do? (Breach of trust)

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by teo, Jun 4, 2007.

  1. teo

    teo . => ? => !

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    [I'm still emotionally charged over this, so I'll do my best to stick to the facts. I'm looking for advice on how to handle this going forward, or hearing about what you did in a similar situation.]

    Recently, my SO and I went out of country for a few weeks. Right before we left, one of our cats had an allergic reaction and needed to be medicated twice daily while we were gone. We changed our plans of having a friend stop by every couple of days to check in on the cats and instead asked his younger sister (18) to house-sit - it was convenient as she needed a place to stay for a couple of weeks before moving into a new place. We bought a bunch of groceries for her as well as leaving her some bus tickets and cash. The only restrictions we gave her were to always lock the doors and not to bring any friends over. We didn't want anyone other than her in our house, mainly because there's a bunch of business equipment that's expensive to replace and we don't trust her choice of friends.

    We returned without incident and the cat was and is now just fine. However, shortly after she left I noticed that my clothes had been rearranged. On further inspection I noticed a number of clothing items missing, including several with sentimental value to me (she would not have known about their value). The number of missing items is high enough that it was definitely not an "oops, I accidentally packed your shirt in my suitcase" scenario, and somewhat disturbingly included several pairs of underwear and a bra. I don't buy clothes often and I choose the ones I do buy carefully, so it was probably more upsetting to me than it would be to many other people to experience this (especially since I've never had sisters or girlfriends with whom I've shared clothing in the past). To discover it without prior explanation was quite alarming.

    To give her some background, she's had a tumultous upbringing. Her mom wasn't able to discipline her effectively and the household was dysfunctional, so she got used to doing exactly what she wanted to do at a young age. Her first real taste of discipline came when she lived with my SO for a year when she was ~14 (before I was in the picture). He would set boundaries and follow through with punishment, unlike what she'd experienced at home - the "if you go out when you're grounded, you will not be allowed on the internet for a week" sorts of things. It did her some good and while she hasn't completely straightened out, we figured she'd at least matured to the point where we could trust her to house-sit. However, as mentioned earlier, we don't trust her judge of character when it comes to her friends.

    In the heat of the moment, I sent off an email which basically said "Please return my missing stuff - it's bad enough that you wore them without asking; if you lent them to your friends you were way out of line. I felt betrayed that you didn't ask me first. I'm annoyed that some things are now stained and missing.". The tone of the email was definitely "I'm pissed off", although it didn't contain any profanities and I was careful not to attack her personally. I did not follow the email up with any further contact. I didn't hear any response until today (which is about a month after the fact) when she sent back a response which did nothing except show her immaturity - direct personal attacks and no response to the actual substance of the email except to say that she "would only wear your clothing to bed" and to "ask before you acuse[sic]". So, it's evident that we missed the mark in assessing her emotional maturity.

    Because I'm so anal about my clothing, I know for a fact that each of the items now missing were there when I left. It helped that I'd done all of my laundry immediately prior. No other items of value appear to be missing - there's plenty of computer equipment that would have gone missing had the place been broken into and no one with that mindset is going to find my underwear valuable. :rofl: Since we'd told her in no uncertain terms not to bring people over, she's either brought friends over who decided to help themselves (with or without her knowledge), or she's taken them herself. Either way it doesn't look good for her since she was supposed to be responsible for looking after the place.

    Now that my shock and indignation has mostly died down, I'm left with a number of thoughts to reflect on:

    First, although I don't generally classify myself as materialistic and I think (hope!) it's mostly the principle of the thing, should I be getting "wound up over a bunch of clothes"? My thought here is that I'd replace them as I could and simply take the replacement price out of the budget that would buy her birthday and Christmas gifts, but she'd be missing about two years' worth of gifts if we did this - I don't think I care to drag this out that long; principle or not they ARE just clothes - and that doesn't address either availability of sentimentality.

    Second, how do I go about repairing a relationship with her? We didn't have much of one before (mostly due to location and lack of contact - we live several hours apart - but also due to the age gap). I already plan on having my SO call her to clear it up; he volunteered to take care of once he realized that the missing stuff had to have been premeditated in addition to other signs pointing towards her having friends over (it was his idea for the no-guests rule since most of the aforementioned equipment is his - he works from home). That doesn't help me with the aftermath though. Whatever the outcome, she's likely to be bitter at being cornered no matter how much she may deserve it.

    I'm frustrated and I know that I'm at least partly in the right, but I can't help but feel like this whole experience is one big losing battle. :(

    Any thoughts? :hs:
     
  2. teo

    teo . => ? => !

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    No one? :(
     
  3. Gregsaidthat

    Gregsaidthat "Individuality is the new conformity"

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    Give me a bit to read and I will post something.
     
  4. KatWoman

    KatWoman •••••••••••

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    Whether you're materialistic or not isn't the issue here. Sure they may be "just clothes" but I gather from your post they're pretty expensive clothes and you also mentioned some of the missing items were sentimental. I don't care what your background is or what your personal spending habits are.

    The issue here is someone violated your trust, took advantage of you, and robbed you, plain and simple. Even if she didn't steal them herself, she still allowed others access to your home, therefore she is ultimately responsible for any missing items. You said her upbringing wasn't the greatest so bringing it up to her parents probably be useless. She already admitted to wearing the clothing to bed, so you at least have that to prove she was in your closet. Items are now missing, I don't know how you would prove that unless you were somehow able to go through her room at her home to look. You also mentioned some stuff was stained. I'd say send her the cleaning bill, but I doubt you'd get anything out of it.

    You may never get anything back from her or out of her. Unfortunately this may be a valuable lesson in choosing housesitters more wisely. Unfortunately in this day and age, sometimes the people closest to you (in this case, a family member) are the least trustworthy. I know I certainly would never trust my own sister alone in my house. From the time she was little, she had a thing about going through other people's stuff. You could beat the living shit out of her and it wouldn't stop her from doing it.

    There's probably not much you can do to get her to fess up or return anything, unless your SO can step in and get her to. I would defintiely be very careful around her in the future. If you were to go to say, a family gathering where she may be present, lock your purse in the trunk, don't bring it in. I would also ban her from stepping foot on your property until she makes good. And lastly, as much of a pain in the ass as it can be, it would probably be a smart move to get the locks on yuor house changed. You said she doesnt hang with a good crowd, what's to say she didn't make a copy of the keys or give someone an inventory on items in your house.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2007
  5. Coottie

    Coottie BOOMER......SOONER OT Supporter

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    I agree with KW.

    A couple of things stuck me as I was reading tho. You accused her without asking her if she actually did it. You didn't even give her a chance to either admit and apologize for doing something wrong OR deny and lie about it. You admitted the tone was pissed off. So it's hardly likely that she'll be very open about this. IMO the reason it took a month for her to respond is because she was working up the courage to tell you off.

    Next, why would you even think about buying gifts for someone that steals from you??

    Next, why have your husband confront her and try to straighten this out?? She stole from you, adding him to the mix is not IMO a good idea. You need to address this directly with her. However, your desire to include him may be why you chose an email confrontation as opposed to a more direct line of communication.

    Do you have issues with confrontation?? It sure sounds like you do. Why didn't you pick up the phone and call her, tell her you need to talk to her and invite her over to your house then confront her in person?? Are you scared of her??

    Sure most people don't like conflict but come on, you're the adult here but IMO you're acting like a child in this regard. We all have our issues but not confronting this directly seems to be one reason you aren't satisfied with the outcome yet. I would suggest being more direct when you've been wronged.
     
  6. Gregsaidthat

    Gregsaidthat "Individuality is the new conformity"

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    Alright sorry about not posting on this yesterday btu I was really busy at work and now I have a second to post on this.

    While I was reading this yesterday I found a few things that stuck out.

    First of all. You and your SO went somewhere and had someone watch the house who has a bad choice of friends and isn't someone you can trust to well. Right there her choice of friends should of been a red flag.

    I understand you have to give someone a chance and your cat wasn't doing the best so it was probably in your best interest to have her stay at the house and watch the cat.

    Here we are now. Your missing things. You went about trying to figure out what happen to them the wrong way I think. I understand your probably a little pissed off if not a lot but still.........

    I have to agree with this.

    I believe you emailed her and probably shared a bit of your mind. Understandable. That right there probably made her "X" out the window and not look back. You should of tried to contact her and get a face to face meeting so that she could have her chance to explain herself and maybe ask for you forgiveness.

    I guess this is a lesson learned to better choose who you have to house-sit for you next time.

    The gift buying for x-mas and her birthday and any other holidays.

    FUCK THAT! Don't buy anything for someone who steals from you. That's just like saying "thanks for stealing my stuff I don't care". "Do it again. It makes me smile".
     
  7. KatWoman

    KatWoman •••••••••••

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    The person is HIS sister, not hers. In the second paragraph of the 1st post, they changed their plans from having a friend check on the cats to having his sister stay there. This leads me to believe this was a joint decision, therefore he should be involved. Additionally, it is the OP and husband/SO's home together, so in essence she has robbed them both...namely of their trust in her.

    I agree that perhaps the OP should have picked up the phone, however, on the other hand, email can be printed and if the sister admitted to wearing the OP's clothes in an email, then that right there is tangible proof that she was in an area of the home she probably shouldn't have been in - so for that alone I agree with the emailing route. The sister thinks she has gotten away with this, but the OP at least can put something on paper to show she hasn't.

    If my sister did something like this to my husband, you bet I'd be kicking her ass to the moon and doing what I could to force her to remedy her wrongdoing to him.
     
  8. Coottie

    Coottie BOOMER......SOONER OT Supporter

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    I'm not sure I agree with involving the husband until other aspects have failed but that's how I usually resolve disputes. I usually deal directly with the person then escalate if I need to.

    Her comment about involving her husband set off bells for me because there's something called "triangulation of communication" that occurs in dysfunctional families. This is where person A tells person B to tell person C to do something. Then person C responds to person B who then has to relay the response to person A.

    Many times this occurs because person A hates conflict/confrontation and/or hasn't learned about effective communication. It's much more efficient and healthy for person A to deal directly with person C. If person A isn't getting through or if person C becomes overly aggressive, then person A can bring in person B for additional support/pressure.

    I've found that I triangulated my communication when I'm too scared to be direct. However, when I eliminate the triangle, many times I'm much more effective.
     
  9. teo

    teo . => ? => !

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    That's pretty accurate.

    Because she's family, and up until now we hadn't had any direct issues with her. I don't see this as worth causing a family rift over, but I'm definitely not willing to let her 'get away' with it. Christmas Day also happens to be her birthday, so it would be a double-whammy to have her sit there and watch us hand things out to the rest of the family and ignore her year after year. My husband wouldn't put up with that (he's the karmic sort), although he does agree that this year for sure we're taking the value of my stuff out of that budget - it exceeds the budget by a hefty margin, in fact. I don't know if it's worth dragging out over years, though - wouldn't that just cause more problems?

    Because a. It's his sister, b. she doesn't listen to anyone but him, and hardly even then (he's the only one that's had any success at disciplining her), and c. I'm too hot-headed to keep my cool when interrogating someone.

    Yes, sort of - see above. We can't call her because she's shiftless and doesn't have any minutes for her cell phone right now. She also lives several hours away so just picking up and going there isn't an option at the moment.

    The email was as direct as I could be, since there was no other method of communication to get to her. No, she didn't have a chance to defend herself; my reasoning on that point being that we told her not to have friends over (we found out she did) and therefore she's responsible for the stuff taken whether she knew about it or not.
     
  10. teo

    teo . => ? => !

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    It was indeed a joint decision to have her stay.. not one I was particularly thrilled about but one that made the most sense at the time. We had about two days to find someone and as our friends all have their own lives there wasn't anyone who would have been able to medicate the cat twice daily on short notice. She seemed to be mature in our recent experiences with her (ie. over the last year or two) but then of course you only see the side they present. It's pretty evident now that she hasn't.

    Unfortunately from the reparations standpoint, no one holds much sway over her. She can't be forced or coerced into doing anything as she holds no emotional fidelity to any family member. As for turning the tables, my brother simply wouldn't pull this sort of stunt but you can bet that if he did I'd be busting his balls about it. He's had a better upbringing, though, and actually cares about my opinions.

    ***

    My husband finally did get her on MSN, and she was hiding things and lying left, right and center. I have no doubts that my hot-headed initial contact made things quite a bit more difficult and we may never get the full story. I've come to terms with that as I deem her responsible as the house-sitter regardless of who the actual thief was. What I don't know is how to move forward with things. I can't act as though nothing happened but at the same time I don't want to disown her over this.
     
  11. teo

    teo . => ? => !

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    Thanks for this. I'm not a fan of confrontation although I will generally go straight to the source, but I think I could use some work on it anyway. My initial email was straight to her, from me, husband CCed. My husband thought he would know how to get to her better than I would, so he volunteered to make contact with her separately - he's not so much the middle-man as much as another contact point. I say this because he had an issue with her directly in that he was the one that told her 'no guests' and he found evidence to the contrary. My beef was about the missing clothes - the guest thing was more of a factor in that than a direct issue. I hope that makes sense.
     
  12. SixSecrets

    SixSecrets New Member

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    Young, irresponsible, but your underthings? Good Heavens. In my mind it was a given that she would have friends over. Pilfering your stuf is a whole nother ball of wax, and really a shitty thing to do. I definitely would not have her house sit again. I'd make the effort (as you did) to get to the bottom of things, try and get my clothes back, and, just write her off. Let the family know why. Christmas, hmmm, I'd probably give her some small token, but that's it. Even though she has had a difficult go of her life, I am sure she understands the concepts of right and wrong. There's absolutely no excuse for swiping your stuff. You have every right to be angry and hurt b/c she violated your trust. Maybe she'll learn from this, maybe she won't. Sticky situation, one that I have not encountered. My newphew (23) house sits for me, has g/f over, and I never worry about them swiping stuff...I was miffed that they didn't wash the sheets...but other than that, I have no complaint.
    It's sad when there is a breach of trust, the world is hard enough as it is. I know you enough to know that you have an excellent sense of fairness and your heart is in the right place. Sentimental stuff, is just that, sentimental and irreplacable. How very sad.
     
  13. teo

    teo . => ? => !

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    As of today her official position is that she didn't take the clothing and she trusts her friends better than she trusts me, so she doesn't believe they took the clothing either. Obviously there's a lie somewhere in there, and since she's still not taking any responsibility for any part of it I think this is about as far as we'll get.

    I discussed it in depth (again) with my husband yesterday and much to my surprise he's all for nixing birthday and Christmas gifts for as many years as it takes to recoup the value of the stuff that's gone missing. For my part I've apologized for my accusatory tone on the email but not for holding her responsible for the missing things. I've also thanked her for house-sitting and taking care of the cat. She accepts neither thanks nor apology, but I'm planning to move on regardless.

    I've done what I think is reasonable given how things have panned out, and the sooner I stop caring about what she thinks, says or does, the smaller the impact she'll have on my life. I'll be open to any gestures of friendship or whatever in the future (ie. when she grows up), but I don't plan on making any myself. Does anyone think this is unreasonable or that I'm failing to consider something?
     
  14. Coottie

    Coottie BOOMER......SOONER OT Supporter

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    There ya go. Now you're being more reasonable. You've apologized for your mistakes and acknowledged her help. She's not likely to respond favorably because she's prolly still hurting from your accusations. Give it time.

    As far as getting her to admit she took something, it doesn't sound like she's the least bit responsible so it's not reasonable to expect her to ever admit to anything. You can learn from cops. When they want a suspect to confess, they don't necessarily attack him verbally. Many times they have found it more effective to befriend the person, get him/her to drop their guard and relax...then here comes the admission. Not always but many times.

    Anyways, if I had a family member treating me like that, I wouldn't be buying them any gifts till this situation was resolved. Resolving it IMO isn't just one person forgetting about it. But that's just me.
     
  15. KatWoman

    KatWoman •••••••••••

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    Sounds like you've done your part, including apologizing for your tone. You've taken your iron out of the fire. Now you will just have move on so this doesn't consume you. Just remember to be careful around her in the future and don't leave your purse or other belongings unattended at a family gathering where she'll be present. You can be cordial to her if you see her, but there's no law saying you have to buddy up and converse as if nothing every happened.

    Now the ball is in her court.
     
  16. Stilgar1973

    Stilgar1973 New Member

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    This is going to be mean.
    I am sorry for that.

    But you did this to yourself. This is entirely your fault. You knew what this girl was like before you invited her to stay at your house and you ended up with exactly the sort of thing a person like her would do.

    In the movie 'Natural Born Killers' an old Indian man tells a story. It goes like this:
    A man is walking in the snow and comes across a frozen snake. He takes it back to his home where he has a fire and thaws the snake out and nurses it back to health.
    Later on the man is holding the snake and stroking it when the snake bites him.
    Dying from the snake bite the man asks the snake, 'How could you do this to me?'
    The snake responds, 'You knew I was a snake when you brought me in.'.

    Okay, it goes SOMETHING like that.

    I don't want to take all responsibility from the girl, she will have to live with what she did, but for you to be all surprised and 'Woa is me!' is, well - the girl is a snake!
     
  17. teo

    teo . => ? => !

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    That's not that mean, especially since your opinion has basis. Trust me when I say that I've learned my lessons in planning and damage-control tactics. However, we didn't think she was the thieving sort or stupid enough to defend her friends in the face of incontrovertible evidence. Now we know better. With the thread, I was going less for 'woe is me' and more 'how can I avoid more woe in the future'. :mamoru:

    Edit: Sadly, the girl won't be living with any heavy heart because in her mind she's done no wrong and is insulted that I'd insinuate she had. So, she can ride all high and mighty on her horse and I'll just make myself scarce when she finally falls off. :dunno:
     
  18. Coottie

    Coottie BOOMER......SOONER OT Supporter

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    Actually, she might be very aware of having done something very wrong and also be embarrassed by having been caught. I dunno because I don't know her. It's not uncommon for some people to defend to the death any illusion they may hold...even in the face of mounds of evidence.

    Maybe she'll come around someday.
     
  19. teo

    teo . => ? => !

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    We're thinking she's the type that would actually delude herself into thinking she has no part in this, hence no acceptance of responsibility for the missing items. She may be a pathological liar.

    She may come around.. it's hard to say. Either way, it's up to her.
     
  20. SixSecrets

    SixSecrets New Member

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    I think you are being more than reasonable. Kudos.
     
  21. Jenious

    Jenious New Member

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    Cut her out of your life... sometimes when a dog is really bad you just have to put it down.
     

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