Sibling Violence: My Struggle to Stop Hating My Abusive Brother

Written by Catherine Braun

faith_siblingviolenceI hated my brother. He teased and tormented me relentlessly. I was only ten. My hatred buried itself deep within me, like a worm eating holes in my child’s heart.

Maybe it began with typical sibling rivalry – a two-year-old boy dumping his new baby sister out of her bassinet, expressing displeasure over her nervy intrusion. I realize now that he had legitimate emotional concerns of his own. Nevertheless, his unacceptable actions toward me persisted for years. Unchecked, malice crept into his heart like a weasel into a hen house. I became the target of his aggression.

Screaming for justice

My memory categorizes the assaults by residence. The earliest serious injury occurred in my first home, high on a hill overlooking the ocean where the vista called for serenity. When I was four, for reasons I can’t remember, my brother picked up a piece of scrap iron and split open the back of my head. I screamed for justice from my parents. None came.

When I was eight we moved to the country into a rental property while our new home was being built. The Dutch doors, divided in half across the center, fascinated me. I spent endless hours incorporating those doors into fantasy play – a storefront, a cage at the zoo, sections of door opened and closed at my will. One day my parents left us unattended; my brother burst through those doors. Wielding a mop handle, he delivered a crushing blow, raising a bleeding, purplish egg on my forehead.

“Look what he did!” I bellowed later that afternoon. My mother failed to carry through with effective discipline. My father ignored the incident, as he did all the others. He was an abuser himself. For years, all of us watched him abuse my mother physically and emotionally.

Our new home was not finished, but we moved in anyway. There my brother finished off the back of my left hand with a nut pick, carving it up with raking stabs. “Don’t you tell anyone at school how this really happened,” my mother warned. By now, I was my own defence. I rebelled and, defying her, told the first person who asked. Nothing changed.

My shinbones collected permanent dents from kicks by hard-toed shoes. My developing breasts ached from closed-fisted blows accompanied by sexually disparaging insults. By now, I knew there was no point even mentioning it. Instead, I not only let the sun go down on my anger but I pulled the shades on my emotions. I locked and barricaded the doors.

By our mid-teens, my brother’s abuse waned and then stopped altogether. The story was no longer about my brother, but about me. My placid and good-natured inborn temperament was what most people saw. However, it covered my white-hot rage, converted to an iceberg, lurking below the surface waiting to rip apart some – any – passing ship. It was there in those icy waters that Jesus met me, not with condemnation, but with love.

A change of heart

I needed to revisit Scriptures I had read as a child, but this time I asked Jesus to help me understand them correctly.

Being a perfectionist, I had tried to follow the law. But Jesus did not expect me to be able to stop hating. He only wanted me to recognize my hatred as sin. I was heading down the wrong path, taking matters into my own hands. He wanted me instead to come to him with it. He is the only one who can make the kind of heart change I needed.

Over time, Jesus helped me see that I believed many things that were untrue. I believed I had to earn God’s favour by being good. I believed that no one cared about me and that no one was interested in protecting me. I believed my needs did not matter. I believed I was not worth loving or protecting.

My childish interpretation of God’s Word caused me unnecessary pain. I now understand that if Scripture does not sound like good news, I am probably not grasping it correctly. Were I to revisit my childhood experience with Jesus, our talk might go like this:

“I hate my brother!”
“Yes, I know. I’m glad you could tell Me so.”
“You mean it’s okay?”
“No, it’s not okay, but you’re okay with Me. Tell me your story, pour it all out. I’ll listen.”

And I’d sob away the hurt, the anger, the feelings of helplessness, knowing that He believed me and understood.

“What your brother has done is wrong. Your parents should have stopped him.”
“Sniff…..”
“I’m sorry this happened to you. I love you.”
“Sniff.”
“Yet, you know that your hatred is also wrong. You need to admit it to Me and let it go. I’ve forgiven you. Now it’s your turn to forgive him, or your hatred will eat you up. Forgiveness will take time. When you’re willing, I’ll make it possible. Think about it and we’ll talk again soon.”

Encouraged and strengthened, I’d move back to the neighbourhood of my hatred to face what was true about me, to confess it and be forgiven, and let it go. This is what the love and forgiveness of Christ makes possible: to face ourselves at our ugliest, never for a moment losing the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness.

I confronted my brother many years later. To his credit, he acknowledged his wrongs and expressed genuine remorse over the pain his actions caused me. By then I had already uncovered and let go of most of my painful feelings. It was good to hear his confession, but he might have chosen to withhold it. I would have needed to forgive him anyway.

Today my brother doesn’t mistreat me in any way. We are friends and enjoy a playful relationship. Yet there are still times I need to stand up for myself with him. He is often intrusive, pushing beyond reasonable boundaries. I must verbalize my stand: No, you may not do that; no I will not allow that; back off; give me some space. It’s not good for him, for our relationship, or for me to allow behavior that generates fresh anger in me.

Take a look at your life.  How would you describe it? Contented? Rushed? Exciting? Stressful? Moving forward? Holding back? For many of us it’s all of the above at times.  There are things we dream of doing one day, there are things we wish we could forget.  In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new.  What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate?

Living with hope

If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.

Is this the life for you?

If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.

Henri Nouwen wrote, “Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all of us love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour – unceasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”

It’s easy to find fault in others. It’s even easier when they have committed a clear sin. It’s much harder to forgive and then to honestly assess – and correct – faults in ourselves. Fortunately, we have a Savior who helps us do just that.

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103 Responses to “Sibling Violence: My Struggle to Stop Hating My Abusive Brother”

  • Jordan says:

    Its the complete opposite for me I just turned 18 last month so I’m waiting for my apartment to be finished and be done with her BS, but anyways about my sister she’s 15 and she goes by that rebelious teen nonsense and I think what triggered our ruvalry growing up was TV shows of brother and sisters not ever getting along, and before we started to learn how to use the tv she was an angel no word of a lie if I got a cut or anything she would look it over and run to go get a bandaid or a paper towel or something, and now she’s like satans little girl, she walks all over town smokin dope, doing meth, drinking, [expletive removed] around causing drama every where she goes and she acts like- no she is a complete diva, like we should worship her and bid her every word and spit shine her shoes or some crap like that, not to mention all the drama at school that she uses to skip out and purposely get suspended, and then she comes home and treats every one like dirt and I right from the start didn’t take any of it but after a while my little sister who is now 12 has started to stand up to her and a year ago my brother moved back in (he’s 16) and he didn’t put up with her crap either, and since I’m moving out my sister tried to go behind my back and get the soon to be vacant room and I said Oohhh no you don’t (Blank) is getting that room and she was pissed and she tends to act like nothing happened after something doesnt go her way so now she she acts like her room is better even though it smells like piss and perfume.. Whar a deadly combination.. And her first rain n shine worker quit because she couldn’t bare her any longer and so a few months later a new rain n shine worker who was just hired is now my demon sisters new worker and shes “supposed to” help her with her behaviour but that isn’t the case at all they go out to restraunts and pools and crap, like just earlier ahe came home after a weekend of being out with friends and the first thing she asks is When is ( me ) moving out? And omfg and she uses sexism against me ( which pisses me off even more the fact that she abuses that power… Ironic huh?) and calls me abusive even though she does it on purpose she gives me that look like haha you can’t touch me, and she smiled and asked her worker to take her out to mcdonalds and omfg is there anything I can do about this? I mean I guess I could get a restraining order on her but what evidence do I have other than harrassment?

  • Elkay Elkay says:

    Michael, the pain you have been through is so heavy to hear about and I am truly sorry it happened to you. But I am truly glad for you that you have escaped that physical environment and I would ask you to try to think about today and tomorrow a little differently, hard as that might be to do.

    You say you hate yourself, your looks and people like you . . . but Michael, you are made in the image of God, for He said, “Let us make man in Our image” at Genesis 1:26 and then said it was very good! This staggers our imagination!!

    But it is true and is why Jesus taught that every person is of more value than the world. “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? (Matt. 16:26). If Jesus had said, “What shall it profit a man if he owned a great home and lost his soul?”, we could estimate the value of a fancy home at maybe $3.5 million dollars and say that according to Jesus Christ, your soul worth more than that. But what Jesus really said is that your soul, the total you, is worth more than the whole world.

    As if that is not enough, human destiny is higher than that of the angels. The angelic hosts are ministering servants, but redeemed men and women are destined for eternal sonship, worshiping and serving in the very presence of God! Your future destiny will be a beautiful thing that is far beyond our imagination.

    Michael, you are of incalculable value to God Himself and as the article above says, “No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

    You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

    Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

    Michael, if this prayer express the desire of your heart, you can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised, and He also promised you His peace and a way for your heart to not be troubled. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 16:33) Do ask Him to “come in and take control.”

    “Heavenly Father, I pray that Michael can see how being made in Your image makes him a very valuable person to You, so much so that Christ died so that he could be a son to You, Please send Your Spirit into his life and draw him to You in a way that glorifies and honors You. Give him Your peace and an untroubled heart and make him into a great testimony for You. In Jesus’ name, we bring this prayer to Your gracious throne. Amen.”

  • Michael says:

    I can somewhat relate, definitely I can relate to the anger lingering inside. I hate my brother also, he’s now a great narcissist, even bigger than my dad. I maybe talk to him once a year shallowly. I grew up in a bit of a [expletive removed] family. There was the domestic abuse and in return my brother always hated me. He’s older than me and people who get abused, abuse other in return. He’s the older brother. My uncle and his children I haven’t talk to in maybe 15 years because he doesn’t like us. After my grandmother died they found out he stole tens of thousands of euro of her and broke all contact. My dad’s family are stone cold people with alcohol problems, they don’t really like us because of my mum’s jewish roots. The only one normal there was my cousin who joined the hells angels looking for a better family. He got gunned down some years ago. My family is pretty [expletive removed]. My youth at school was pretty [expletive removed] as well. I had zero friends and got bullied all over.

    When I was like 25 I found a way out, I basically fled the country. I started traveling and now live for about six years around 20 hours of flying of the place I grew up. I can never go back. When I left the country I basically started a new life and said the old one good bye. However the one thing that always remains is how much I hate myself. And I think the reason I hate my brother is because we look so much alike, I don’t think it’s anymore of all the things that happened. It’s more or less the same with my dad as well, whenever I realise I’m part him it scares me. The more I can relate things to my existence the more I hate it. Last time I was at a diving trip and there was a guy that had the same name as me which already made me disliking that guy. There are countless of people taking selfies, I could never do that. I hate the way I look.

    I don’t know, just wanted to put this down.

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