There are three forms of sibling abuse; physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The abuse can occur individually, but it is often combined in one way or another. However, all three forms of violations mean emotional suffering for the victim. The assaults that tend to be taken most seriously by society are the sexual ones, while the emotional ones get the least attention. In the case of emotional abuse, the damage is not visible on the outside. However, the trauma to which the child is exposed, can still cause as much suffering as with the other forms of abuse or even greater. It is common that emotional abuse cause mental scars and injuries that are present throughout the victim’s entire life.
In addition you should not forget that also the children and adults who abuse their siblings often need help and support from society to gain insight to end their wrong behaviour.
What has separated sibling abuse from bullying where outsiders are responsible for the abuse is that the perpetrator has access to his or her victim around the clock concerning sibling abuse. However, with the availability of Internet, social media and cell phones today, this difference is likely to have diminished to some degree.
If you know that you are being exposed to sibling abuse, it may be a good idea to keep a diary. (However, it is not in all cases that children understand that they are subjected to sibling abuse. I for instance did not understand this when I was a child. Instead I thought that I was mentally ill because I felt so miserable all the time.) This since it could partly increase the own understanding of the violations that the victim may suffer. But having written down the abuse in a diary, might also be good in case you would like to report your sibling to the police someday. In many cases, diaries also can be considered evidence in court.
Should you however, not have the option of keeping your diary at home, perhaps because you share your room with the abusive sibling or because you do not have a key to your room so you can lock it? Then you can perhaps ask to keep the diary at a friend’s house or maybe your teacher or your counselor at school can keep it safe for you.
If the violations continue in adulthood, then the probability is very high that the abusive sibling is either mentally ill, is having a mental disability or a personality disorder of some kind.
It is common for the victim’s relatives and family to distance themselves from the victim and take the side of the abusive sibling when the victim tries to standup for him or herself and speak out about the assaults.
People who experience this dilemma also tend experience difficulties in being taken seriously by the healthcare industry. As a survivor of sibling abuse, I have come to know this difficulty first hand.
It is unfortunately also rare for abusive siblings to ask their victims’ forgiveness. If you expect the sibling who has abused you to apologize, you may have to wait in vain, I’m afraid. But in the rare cases where the abusive sibling really does, there is a good probability for the relationship to heal and to turn into a healthy one at the end.
The positive thing, however, is that in some cases, should you live in Sweden, you may be entitled to compensation from The Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority as the victims of sibling abuse are considered to be victims of a crime.
Now the entry is over for this time. Please, take care of yourself and others. Thank you. See you if you wish to, next week.
You are welcome to comment if you like, but please do so with respect and good judgment.
Book: Perilous rivalry by Vernon R. Wiehe, Teresa Herring, 1991
Book: Sibling abuse by Vernon R. Wiehe, 1997
© Helén Varenius – text and photo