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

  • It seems that you are so sad that you has written it at 12:06 am . But you should not to be so sad . I know that what happened to you only you can feel but it is not right that you commit suicide. I thanksgiving to God that you failed . Just remember what we say is less worth than what we do . If you were successful in that how I got a friend like you . I want to share an experience that i never share to anyone that happened to me in real . Once I was in my uncle house with his family they Spit on food in front of me and forced me to eat and I had to. I was 5 year old at that time and now I am 14. I don’t forget that but the journey called life goes on . In a journey you have experienced many good and bad things same as life . At least some are worst and some are happiest some are craziest but one thing is common at least there should be experiences so that we can can say them as good and bad . The life is always changing and making us bold . Every comment you have got and emits each word worth more than anything . Think deeply and act wisely and do that foolishness again . I wanna tell you a joke . I hope you like it :
    Once there was a hen? who married with an eagle ?. One day a cock? asked to the hen , “why do you marry with an eagle?. Are we all died that you did it.” Then the hen? answered , “I wanted to marry with you but my father wanted that the men to whom I marry should to be in the airforce .”??????????. When I first heard it my face was like it.? be happy and believe in your strength . I know I am stranger to you but you can share anything if you want . My email is [it is our policy not to publish personal contact information] Thank you friend.

  • Chris says:

    Kyledc….www.ndvh.org can help you stop this violence in your home. you dont have to put up with is illegal but you will need to use your citizens rights to experience them. even paul appealed to cesar. acts 25. praying jesus gives you the courage to stop your brother today!

  • KyleDC says:

    My brother is a abuser.. Too everyday im with him He always hurts Me.. I dont know what to do… Im always crying but no one is comforting me. My mom and dad doesnt muchly care. I wish God or jesus will come down to earth to talk to him. I commited suiced still failed. I know i have much to live for. But i cant take it anymore. My brother leaves me couple red bruses in my body for sometimes i thought of why am i born in this world. If god is good why does life hurts. I need someone to comfort me still it hurts. I hated my brother since i was 6yrs. Old he was the blank in my brain and heart. Why did god gave me this style of life. My brother gone this much abusive when he was in high school his friends and girlfriends made him so abusive
    smoking,drinking,
    Its like just im the black sheep of the family.. But no one understands me even my parents. It feels so sad that i have these parents i made a book/diary. Now i wrote what they did to me everyday. I did many good things but still why is the payback to me is No fair to me or why does have to be painful i did not learn a lesson from anything. Im a just focused on my education. Pls give me a fast comment. And im sorry what happened to you too ill pray for you too and as long as you pray for me for my brother to stop. Thank you so much.!!

  • Elkay says:

    Anu and No Contact, I am very sorry for what you are going through and there is no excuse for it. I wish there were words to offer and make the pain go away but there are not and I do not want to give you empty platitudes. Yours is a very difficult state for people to be in; God in His Word, does not guarantee us a pain-free life and over the centuries, people have been very hurtful to one another for inexcusable reasons as your brothers are doing.

    Prayerfully, in the years ahead, the abuse will stop, and meanwhile, you do need Jesus alongside you to get to that point, so please make sure you have entered into a relationship with Him, trusting Him as Savior and following Him as Lord. Then you will be an adopted child of God and know that He is working for your well-being, no matter how long it takes. And you will have the hope of a future restored heaven and earth where there is no pain nor tears nor memories of what you are going through. Meanwhile, we pray . . .

    “Heavenly Father, nothing is impossible for You and You have invited us to come to Your throne of grace to find help and mercy in our trials. Anu and No Contact are in very difficult places with abusive siblings. This cannot be pleasing to You and so we ask that You intervene in a divine manner and bring this wrongful behavior to an end in a way that makes clear that You are the source of help and healing. This is our prayer in Jesus’ name, amen.”

  • Kate says:

    Anu – please do not kill yourself. Your soul is a gift in this world. This will pass and good things will come. Please talk to friends if possible, try to get help but do not give up on life.

  • Anu says:

    Hi,

    I am beaten by my brother, only because i had an affair few years back and he got to know about that he is younger to me still he is angry with me and beats now and then i was being beaten by metal rods on my head, few days back he dragged me by holding my hairs.. and thrown a glass of tea on me.. I am so scared dont know what to do.. i think to kll myself..

    :'(

  • No Contact with the slimeball says:

    Dont hate the abuser brother at all, just wish his abuse was exposed, ruin his life like he tried to ruin mine, for all the harm he caused karma would give it right back to him, cant see why he gets to go on with life like he deserves living. Parents were useless at intervening, forgives him everything he did like it was nothing- their complicit in raising their disgusting sons to be abusers. Avoid all of them like the plague as an adult.

  • Alfred says:

    Hi Kara, you mention problems as well as great solutions. It is indeed important to think positive, look for the good and help others. I am so sorry that you have to battle drug addiction and mental health. Yet, even there you are expressing hope! I would like to encourage you to read the Bible daily. The Bible is God’s “love letter” to us, and it puts us in touch with our Creator who has all the answers. God loves you, Kara, and wants you to feel good about yourself. We all make mistakes, but this journey we call life is a learning process. God will never allow us to be tempted or tried beyond our capacity to come out stronger. Take courage, and count on Him to help you daily, even hourly to remain drug-free. It is also important to thank God for every little victory. HE gave us life, and He will see us through! Remember that I’m praying for you, Kara, and will look at this blog again in a week. Blessings.

  • Kara says:

    I had a brother and he was one and a half years older than me. He started to become violent when I was ten years old, and my older sister, whom was five years older encouraged him to do so. I just thank God that I did not inherit the need to be violent even with the vulnerable. I can never understand how someone could treat anyone with violence. Eventually, at age 14 my 16 year old brother was sent to live with my father. I was still scared to see him when he came to visit, I felt he was going to kill me. One day I pray that he died and the abuse would go away. He was killed a few weeks later in a car accident. Now I must battle drug addiction and mental illness. If your children are abusing each other, you need to get help immediately for your family. I do not want him or anyone else to go to hell for what they did, he even tied my cat to a tree and shot him. It all lies in the parenting. Parents need to solve these problems with the help of counseling services. Every child deserves support and a chance. If your family will not change, stay away from everything that will depress you. Try to get out of the house more and stay busy with positive activities, and kind people. Peace

  • Sandeep says:

    A struggle to stop hating oneself for being a [expletive removed] and having no self respect to protect oneself because I he/she was taught that way.

    To protect oneself is human nature. Which is part of nature given by God.

  • Sandeep says:

    Tell me Aldo,
    Correcting yourself and your faults, it is a good thing in general, but what if it doesn’t matter at all to other because they want to remember you as that faulty person forever and stand in your way like a bully, and that is your own sibling/family member.

    In the above story, this girls skull was cracked open by her own brother. How is someone supposed to forgive if that person is sill around. Talk about making a stand in life earning and making your own path, but if brother stands in that path like an obstacle just because you don’t rise up and gain respect and so thT he can torment you even more and you stay at one place.

    Tell me what to do if someone seriously wants you disrespected by all and forever.

  • Sandeep says:

    Aldo, thanks for advice.
    I have learned to not hate anyone entirely. And that alone heals me. But the painful aspect is not hating another person. It is hating yourself because of another person. The other person (your own sibling) belittle you so much and so very often, even when you’re working/studying. Then it makes you feel that you are burden on earth and deserved to be treated that way. No one stands up for you, no one objects and rather you are told you are the cause of misery. That is how innocent people suffer. By blaming the helpless victim for their own misery.
    Is it so unfortunate to be born the youngest in a family.

    And is it alright to hate oneself for no reason. On one end if you’re told do something in your life, stand up for something. On other end you’re put down when you even try or about to achieve something. What does that insill in the mind of an individual? That he/she is totally useless [expletive removed]? A burden on family? If we do something then wrong, if we don’t then also wrong? And not a single day goes by without that?

    I’ll tell you one thing Aldo, even after all this, I don’t hate my brother, but I hate myself for what he does to me, all those years I believed in the cajoling and sweet lies told by my family that made me tolerant and non responsive to abuse. Respect for elders doesn’t mean they will rape you in your mind and [expletive removed] and you won’t say anything about it. And if u say or complain, then you are called snitch. Another name to torment the already devastated mind. To what degree can a mind be pushed? If it must be pushed at all but in the right direction rather than non productive.
    I say I dont hate him as human. I hate myself for the fact that his [expletive removed] is so much gathered and now so deep and involuntary in my brain that I can’t get it out. It has become unconscious secondary nature. I hate myself that I’m not able to deal with it like I used to at an earlier stage.

    When I try to put myself in his place, I still cannot understand how a person can do this to other. That’s because if I had done it to other then I will hate myself for it. But this guy feels pride in it. That is so sick, so so so so utterly sick. It makes me sick.

    I will definitely forgive this person if this person will go as far away from.me as possible and also repent and face same consequences by other bullies and realize his mistake. But even after that I don’t want to see his face as I will remember him for that only and I can’t believe in good or power of good deeds as long as he’s around. As it is proven futile.

    Asking to forgive your tormentor, give me a break. You’re supposed to teach them a lesson.

    I can’t ignore my mistakes for which I am scolded but I also can’t ignore his mistake either for which he’s not told anything. His mistakes against me, father, mother and family as a whole.

  • Aldo says:

    Another survivor, it is quite reasonable to desire justice to be done, but that justice must come from God either through the courts, or directly from God- Romans 12:19
    “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”

    In fact, it would be much better to pray for your enemies and do good to them, than to call down wrath upon them.
    Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

  • Aldo says:

    Prince of Princes, it is truly terrible to be a victim of abuse especially from a sibling, but it is more terrible to harbor the hatred that you say you have for your brother, because it will eat you up from the inside out. Hatred has more of an ill effect on the hater, than it does on the hated, whereas, forgiveness has a healing effect on our bodies.

    I suggest that you repent of your hatred, confess it to God, ask for forgiveness, and experience its freeing power.

    May God, in His mercy, lead you to doing just that, in Jesus Name I pray, amen.

  • another survivoe says:

    I find it odd that in the catholic church cases the abuse was litigated but no lawyers want to take on the cases of adult survivors of incest, sexual abuse, physical abuse, etc. Somehow, someway, adult survivors need to form a class action lawsuit and get the laws changed so that we can sue for torture – because that is exactly what it was, and the thought that the predator sibling goes on to live a merry life carrying on as if nothing they ever did was punishable is enough to make every victimized person out there even sicker that the PTSD they have been left with. Its not about hate at this point, it is about JUSTICE.

  • Prince Of Princes says:

    I hate my brother! He is so abusive and self-centered, and always punches me, now my knee is swollen, damn any sibling like that, when you have siblings like that who needs enemies.

  • Keta says:

    Thank you so much your story helped me in so many ways I can not help but say you are litterally a life saver thank you so much for sharing your story

  • Aldo says:

    Ali and Sandeep, enduring abuse from anyone is a terrible experience, but much worst when sustained from a sibling. I suggest that you both seek Jesus’ help as the writer of the article did. He (Jesus) is the one that made the difference in her life of abusive treatment.

    Father God, I ask that You would draw Ali and Sandeep closer to You and to the Savior, Jesus Christ. Grant them a relationship with You, in Jesus Name I pray, amen.

  • Sandeep says:

    Nowadays people don’t deserve to have their younger siblings around them. They’re such pricks that they will go out of their way to harm their younger ones.

  • Sandeep says:

    Dear Ali!
    I feel your pain, and I feel the pain of other people who are abused by their sibling in any manner or way, in any sort, be it physical, sexual or mental.

    Ali, first of all I am so sorry you have o face that from your own brother. Secondly, I have been desperately searching for something related to sibling abuse on internet and trying to find something related to me, but all I got was just a few girls stories, that initially led me to believe that only girls get abused by siblling and the abuse faced by boys has never been reported. That made me think I am stupid and girlish and that my brother is right that I am just a girl in a man’s body, which totally broke my spirit and disheartened me.
    But on reading several other stories I found it that is not the case. No one has the right to belittle you, or mentally torment you so much that his face remains in your mind for even the most private of your moments that you can’t even enjoy your life.

    I am facing exactly the same as you are by my elder brother. He is only 1 and a half years older and has a Job as a call center employee. All of my family members favour him in everything although he shouts, abuses or torments anyone openly and doesn’t give any respect. And the reason they give for his harsh actions against me is that I do not study or do not have a Job. but reality is that He has been tormenting me as long as I can remember. yes I did have a good time with him but that did not hide his true feelings against me, that is of jealousy and hatred and malice.

    And all the things that you said exactly match his behavior except that he never gave me permanent physical scar. But my mind is totally snapped out.

    When my parents and eldest brother prohibit him from beating me, he turned to mentally abusing me, calling me meaningless names, poking me, and even provoking me, when I react, I am always shamed by him and other family members. That led me to total helplessness, so much that when I was 14 years old I started beating myself up, to get the mental tormenting out of my head. Yes I did some funny things and some mistakes in the past but that are totally forgivable because I am guilty of them and realize them. But my Brother does not want to feel guilty that’s why he hides it by shouting and even more abuses. He is such a greedy person he used to steal parents money and when he eats his own food, he eats from my plate too.
    And he became taller and healthier than me and made me constantly weaker.

    Sometimes I get so fed up by his behavior towards me that I start beating myself in my head and stomach, it hurts so bad later. When he sees me doing that, he even starts beating me, and on other days calls me a psycho and laughs and taunts at me. And goes out of his way to even poke me and provoke me and when I react, bea tthe hell out of me. He treats me like an object.

    I couldn’t believe what was happening with me

    When I was 24 he still treated me like a child calling me names belittling me by forcibly kissing.
    And he did that when I was doing either my College work or Freelance work on PC. In the name and implied ‘brotherly affection’, he used to come to me to disturb in between my work, hinder my work physically and start treating me like child. He didn’t even care that I was concentrating. I shook it off as just mental behavior and his habit, but then he used to come again and again many times in a row. sometimes he used to come and go and pretend he is done with, but returned 5 minutes later to disturb my peace and he did this 10 times in a row while I was working. One day, against my mom’s wished I shifted my PC upstairs because I couldn’t work at all when it was on the same floor as my brothers.
    Apart from that he constantly calls me names even though he knows I don’t like that.
    He makes me get things for him as if I am a servant and not a member of the house. and when I get him his things he still calls me names and doesn’t have any regard.

    He spoiled my life by making me do a course that I didn’t want to do and my parents got scared for my career so they also forced me to do a graduation course against my will. I am so ashamed I couldn’t protest in the right manner and tactics, I almost wasted 4 years of my life doing different things until finally my Mother realized that I am meant for creative field only.

    At first I felt very good that at last I am doing what I am interested in and I am also good at it and appreciated for it. But slowly my brother found other means to torment me by taking control of every situation, causing misunderstanding and not listening to me. No matter what he always scolds me and makes it look like its my fault and gives no chance to explain. That way he makes me guilty and finds a way to torment me and punish me.

    So even while I do my thing, his behavior and mental torture haunts me.

    I thought several times to separate from him but my family comes in between and tells me not to cause divide between him and me unnecessarily. But they do not understand relationship works mutually not with one person totally taking the right of others.

    I am scared how will I ever forget the shame that I had to beat myself, hurt myself even though I knew that, that is not the answer.
    I would not be able to respect myself like I used to do before. And I always think, how will I scope with this socially, how will I sit between my relatives again. And what will happen when I get married, will he mistreat me in front of my wife? And even my children.

    I am thinking of separating and leading a healthy life with a healthy future. But with the looks of it, I will not be allowed to do so. And even if I do I don’t know how I will relieve my mind of it. I’m afraid I will not be able to live fully.

  • Sheila says:

    I’m very. Sorry you all went throug . This I pray that you will find. Gods. Healing

  • Ali says:

    So my mother is always at work from 2pm (6am every time she has overtime, which is QUITE often because we don’t get money from my abusive father), until 10pm. And since my eldest brother learned how to release his aggressions through beating on me, smoking, drinking, yelling and throwing tantrums even at 22 years of age to get what he wants (which my mother gives to him), swearing, and verbally and emotionally abusing me all throughout the years of ages 6 years to 18 years. I also have a twin brother, but he never stands up for me whenever I get a beating. My scars still hurt from when her tackled me to the ground and made a cut on my head. He has done nothing but abuse everything and everyone he knows and has, saying that he’s an adult and that he can do whatever he wants, and that I’m still a child even though I’m 18 years old, and that I’m to answer his commands and respect him no matter what he does to me, and that if I tell the cops that he abuses me, that he will drag me down with him if they catch him (I called the police once for verbal assault and he put on the best act ever, saying that I was mentally ill and that I hadn’t taken my medicine yet, though I’m VERY sane and HAD tooken my medications as requested by my mother, and he got away with everything, and beat me until he got tired and locked me in my room, and his the key under my mom’s bed, where she finds it). I try telling my mom that he NEEDS to leave the house at all costs, but she refuses to do it because he’s her firstborn son and she’s paying for his car that HE was supposed to pay for. And while she’s at work, I’m at home, and my brother’s off from work, he’ll torment me and threaten me. I don’t even know WHY I’m not dead yet.

  • Aldo says:

    Rae, thank you so much for the positive praise of the article, and for the encouragement you gave to those who have suffered abuse from family members.

    May God continue to use you in ministering to others who have suffered similarly.

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