Sibling Abuse

Mrs. - posted on 04/14/2011 ( 20 moms have responded )

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Alright, so I've been coming to so big realizations as of late. My older brother and I have always had a "difficult" relationship. For years, my mother has told me that what went down while we grew up was normal. My father is an only child so he had no compass. My brother used to regularly toss me around, injure me, smother me, tell me I was a fat piece of crap and try to control pretty much everything I did until the age of 15. My mother's attitude was, "Well, my brothers were way worse, so no big deal."

My mother grew up in an abusive household and I believe she, not unlike me for up until now, thought that this behaviour was normal. Not to mention that most of the larger incidents in my childhood my brother did his best to scare me into not informing on him. If I did, I'd get it worse the next day and generally nothing would change, he'd still be there and my mother would still believe it was no big deal.

It wasn't until later, in particular watching my fiance and his siblings, that I learned that this may not be the norm.

My brother's behaviour has just turned into the passive aggressive type now that he can't hit me in private any longer. He humiliated me at his wedding, manipulating situations so that I could be the most uncomfortable positions. Once again, if I say anything, I look like the bad guy.

So personal rant over....I'm wondering, do you believe that boys will be boys and this kind of childhood behaviour is okay? Did you have similar relationships with your siblings and would you just consider that the norm? If you have, how do you navigate abusive siblings and your other family members? Do you even believe in sibling abuse?

More importantly, I'm thinking about having another kid. I'm so worried about not having a proper outlook on how siblings interact because of my own f'd up experience. I do have two younger brothers who I seem to have "normal" relationships with, but I worry. If this is happening in your house, how would you make sure it didn't continue? How have you addressed bad behaviour towards siblings in your house?

Just thought I'd put it out there.

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Sneaky - posted on 04/14/2011

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I thought I had a 'normal' relationship with my brother, until I was 15 and he tried to stab me. Eventually I got sick of my parents favoritism toward him to so I ceased all contact. I can not describe the relief I feel knowing that I never, ever have to see or speak to any of them ever again. That is MY choice and they have NO control over it :o)

Observation: I really think it is the parents that enable this sort of behavior. As long as you will not stand for your children disrespecting and maliciously hurting each other, I do not think you have anything to worry about Rebecca. Your mother was a fool - but that is how victims of abuse often live their lives, unknowing that what they are doing is not normal or right :o( That is why you can say that you overcame it - because you know better and you are going to ensure that the cycle of abuse is not carried on into your childrens lives :o)

Mabel - posted on 04/14/2011

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Abuse is abuse no matter if it is sibling or spouse.I grew up with a very troubled adopted baby brother who liked to steal and manipulate for what he wanted.My parents gave him everything because he was adopted and to this day I have an order of protection against him because he threatened me and my son when he was 1 yr old.Told us he was going to burn my house down with the 2 of us in it because I caught him stealing from my sons piggy bank.I don't care what people say it is not normal to have to fear another human being.If you are worried about having 2 children and having them go through the same thing maybe you could go to a specialist and learn some different ways of dealing with the rivalry and how to show the children to treat each other well from the beginning.Good luck!

ME - posted on 04/15/2011

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Rebecca,

The relief for me was amazing as well. I made the decision in 2006 when I got married. I REFUSED to allow him to be invited to my wedding. My parents were horrified, but I sat them down and explained that I didn't care if it ruined my relationship with him, in fact, I hoped it would. I wrote a letter to he and his wife, explaining why he/they were not invited. I told him that if he could recognize and admit to what he'd done to me (and my other sisters) and get help for his aggressive and abusive behavior, then there might be a chance that our relationship could be healed. He never responded. It's interesting that you say you recognized the physical reaction you were having...I had physical responses to my brother as well. He got married in 2002, and I couldn't eat for weeks leading up to the wedding; I lost tons of weight and had to have my dress altered at the last minute. That was when I realized that I just shouldn't be around him anymore! I was living in Colorado (1000 miles away), so it wasn't a problem, but I got married in my hometown, so I had to choose to keep him away...I have not ever regretted my decision. Taking care of myself is just too important! There was a family funeral once right after I'd had my son, and I didn't think he would come, but he was there...I was SO upset that he even SAW my child, that he knew he existed at all, that I realized that there was no other decision I could have made in regards to my brother. He cannot ever see my children, not ever!

Good luck to you, and take care of yourself and those who deserve protection first. Your abusive brother is NOT one of those people!

MaryE

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Lady Heather - posted on 04/15/2011

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My brother went through a brief phase where he liked to chase me around the house and practice his wrestling moves on me. I guess he was about 7-9 years old. Not after that though. He was my big burly protector throughout high school. I think it's more normal for boys to take on a protective role down the line. What you're describing certainly doesn't sound right to me.

I don't know exactly what I'd do and probably won't unless I actually have to deal with it, but I can tell you it won't involve telling the abused sibling that "boys will be boys".

Janessa - posted on 04/15/2011

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well I personally think sibling will be sibling in some ways. I guess because I was allowed to spanked my younng in my home country. But in Canada I was not allowed I remember smacking them around if there would be disrecpectful towards me. In a way I think I was abusive but in a way not really becasue I just thought I was doing my job what my mother would want.

Elfrieda - posted on 04/15/2011

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If you're watching for that problem and ready to spring into action if you see it, I think you'll be fine having 2 or more kids.

I didn't have brothers, but my sister and I had our share of fights (physical and verbal), teasing, and ignoring. But we always felt like even if we were mad at each other, we were a sort of unit, we had each other's backs, that sort of thing.
I think my parents encouraged that by always referring to us as "the girls", and really discouraging tattling. (if I tattled, I'd get punished for tattling, and my sister would get punished for what she did. I had to be sure that it was worth it!)

Sylvia - posted on 04/15/2011

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No, that's NOT normal. But I'm pretty sure you know that now.

Siblings can get over that kind of thing as adults, BUT only if the offender truly understands and admits the behaviour was wrong, truly regrets it, and has truly changed that behaviour. Clearly that is not the case with your brother. If I were you I'd find ways to not be around him.

That doesn't mean anything like that will happen with your kids, though. You are now aware of the problem and will be watchful. Your fiancé grew up with more normal sibling relationships and is able to be a better role model. As somebody else said -- ultimately this kind of abuse among siblings is enabled by the parents, so don't enable it and you're most of the way there.

Carolyn - posted on 04/15/2011

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Me and my 3 siblings had our share of above average intensity moments. It was however mostly between my old brother and sister. And i would have to say mostly instigated by my sister, and the rest of us would get caught up in it and rise to her level of excalation. Though i never hit any of my siblings, I did get punched in the face once by my sister over wearing a sweater... needless to say she has anger issues to this day.

As each of us moved out in our own time, our relationships changes drastically. My brother would invite his little sister to hang out ? WTF ? unheard of ! My older sister asked me to go out to parties with her and her friends ? WTF ? is this a joke ? When I moved out, my relationship with my little sister had the same thing, we actually liked each other. we just couldnt live together.

I dont think our family had anymore dysfunction than the average blended family. My step dad is an alcoholic, and his daughter with my mom could do no wrong but was the spawn of satan. I guess things could have been alot worse, but they werent and things were they way they were.

My parents did not tolerate hurting each other, stealing etc, but it didnt stop it from happening on the occasions it did. I always worked, I started babysitting from age 11 and it went on from there to odd summer jobs, and then regular employement at 15, so i always had things my siblings who couldnt be bothered to work didnt. My parents eventually put locks on all our doors and kept a copy of each key. Made things alot easier.

I dont think its abnormal for the rare occasion of over the top fighting, but consistent, regular patterns of behaviour definitely qualify as abuse.

Kids fight, but they also get along. Fighting should be the exception, not the norm.

Bonnie - posted on 04/15/2011

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No it's not okay. Boys will be boys in a sense that they will play wrestle, not hurt eachother.

Mel - posted on 04/15/2011

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I was like that as a kid, probably not to the same extent though. I dont remember alot. I did used ot whack my brother on the head with a tennis racket, and just injure him alot in general. I guess I thought I was the mummy and that it was ok for me to punish him. I name called him to, fat ugly you name it. I guess I never thought anything otherwise.I wouldnt allow any of my kids to do anything to the other in my house though. My kids are not really old enough for me to say how they are going to be yet

Toni - posted on 04/15/2011

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After growing up with brothers I have to say, yes, boys will be boys ....

BUT

what your brother did to you does NOT come under that statement. He was abusive to you and I'm so sorry that you did not have a big brother to look out for you and keep you safe.

My husband is one of 3 boys and 1 sister. They never treated their sister like that either.

Again, I'm so sorry with what you have and still are going through.

Charlie - posted on 04/14/2011

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GAH I wrote a long post and COM ate it .

In short , Im sorry you had to deal with that .
Yes your brother was and still is abusive just in a different way now .

I would never tolerate that behaviour from my boys , yes boys will be boys .
Farting on eachothers heads ? Sure !
play wrestling ? sure
continued malicious physically hurting someone ? NO
Phsycologically abusing someone ? NO
Threats to the point of fear ? No

He would not be apart of my life or near my kids .

Stifler's - posted on 04/14/2011

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I agree with Tracey, it's parents enabling it. My parents fully enabled my sisters stealing and made excuses and told us it was our problem because we didn't hide our things good enough. She was the favourite. My grandma doesn't even like her being at her house because money and other stuff goes missing every time and my parents accuse her of being immature towards the issue. Whenever I go home I seriously lock my handbag in my car still. It's only since she got caught stealing $2000 worth of scratchies from my mum's work (mum got her a job doing the checkout) that they have realised it's not everyone else's problem. I told them not to get her a job there or she'd end up embarrassing the hell out of them but they didn't listen.

[deleted account]

I was just going to suggest that you never be in his presence again. I wouldn't even deal w/ a 'forced' visit. If you know he's going to be there... don't go. If you don't know and he's there.... leave as soon as you see him.

I'm so sorry you went through that.

Mrs. - posted on 04/14/2011

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Mary Elizabeth, when I had my child, I got so nervous about the up-coming family Christmas, where I knew I would she my brother, I made myself ill. I didn't really put two and two together until recently..

I finally told my fiance why I was so stressed around him with my child there. I don't want to leave him alone with her for fear he would try to "discipline" her. Even if it were harmless, I think I would loose it. My fiance now understands and promised me he would never let that happen or that he would never let her be in the position to have that happen.

Having a child really puts the childhood stuff to the forefront...

I think, though, I'm finally done with the forced visits with him involved. If he's there, I just don't think I will be anymore. His wedding was the last straw.

Kate CP - posted on 04/14/2011

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No, that's not normal. I was the oldest in my family and yea, my sister and I got into tiffs about stuff but I never hurt her or belittled her. And she was never abusive to me, either. But, I think, that since you've seen it from the inside and you KNOW it's not okay that you can handle it from the outside. I think if you have the same reaction to it that your mom did (the "Oh, it's normal" reaction) then you'll have a problem. But if you know what to look for and know how to deal with it before it becomes a problem then your kids should be fine. :)

ME - posted on 04/14/2011

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Wow...that sounds like a page out of my history...My older brother (older by 3 1/2 yrs) was incredibly abusive. I do not have a relationship with him any longer. I have refused to let him meet my children, and I will not talk about it or compromise with my parents or other family members. I spent my whole life being bullied and abused by him, and I won't let my children see him treat people that way, especially their mom. I'm sorry that you went through this too...
I have a 3 yr old son and a 1 yr old daughter...it scares me sometimes, that my history could repeat itself in them...My son is a very sweet boy tho, and we rarely ever leave the two of them out of direct eye sight at this point. If I ever see any behavior that I think is alarming, it will be stopped immediately! I have used timeouts and a couple other behavioral methods to address "normal" toddler behaviors. They seem to work pretty well...

Jodi - posted on 04/14/2011

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This is not boys being boys. I DO believe boys will be boys, but this is not it. I was raised in a household full of boys, I had 4 younger brothers, and this is NOT how we ever treated each other. Yes, we had our fights and disagreements, heck, we still do, but what you have described is totally disrepsectful and abusive.

My kids argue and fight, and sometimes I intervene, sometimes I don't. It depends what is going on. I do believe that kids need to learn to fight their own battles, but I also know there is a line that should never be crossed, and in our house, I draw the line at any name calling, physical abuse, humiliation and just plain being nasty (and probably a host of other things). At this point, I separate the children and send them to separate rooms and time out, and then, once things have calmed, we discuss it and make various apologies, etc. Most of the time they are pretty benign arguments.

So I WILL say that arguing and disagreing between siblings is normal. But saying "boys will be boys" is a cop out and this sort of abuse is not normal at all and should never be condoned and explained away by a parent.

[deleted account]

Absolute NOT ok. Yeah, my brother and I fought and hurt each other on occasion. Our 'verbal abuse' consisted of think like brat and punk though. No serious insults or violence.

My kids fight and argue sometimes, but it is RARELY ever physical past the first strike. ;) My kids can be worst enemies at times, but are best friends... w/ a little sidekick more often than not.

Stifler's - posted on 04/14/2011

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My sister used to steal from me right up until I left home. She would steal my board money that I was meant to give to my parents every week out of my wallet or my pocket money out of the tin I kept it in and we all had our own room she had no reason to go in my room. My whole life from the time she turned about 5 I had to hide money, my tweezers, everything or she'd steal it or go through it. I still fucking can't stand her and I don't believe our relationship is normal or that kids should have to hide all their things from their sibling. My parents would always believe whatever she said that she *found it* and because my other sister and I had bashed her, accused her of it and started yelling about it or took it back out of her room we were the bad guy.

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