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Almost two years ago I wrote a response to a 13 year old girl who was being abused by her twin brother (https://advice.doctorbeheshti.com/sibling-abuse-among-twins/). Recently I received an email from a 16 year old girl with very similar problems. The question that I received greatly troubles me, and I would have reported this to Child Protective Services (CPS) myself if the girl who submitted the question had given me any identifying data. I wrote to her and asked for this data and she never responded, so I’m writing a response to her on this site. I do hope she will read my old post as well as this one and will take action before it’s too late!
Dear Doctor Life Advice,
I am a 16-year-old girl in a household with an absent mother and my twin brother. He is abusive beyond what would be considered sibling rivalry. He punches me repeatedly whenever I don’t do something right, everything that I do is malicious according to him, he berates me for messing up even the smallest of tasks, he mocks my stuttering problem, he calls me a variety of sexist swear words, he screams at me, he forces me to do chores, he forces me to make him dinner, and he goes out of his way to make me feel like a worthless piece of garbage stranded on the road. He makes fun of my disability, my stuttering, my interests, and my bisexuality. He constantly tells me that I’m going to burn in hell. He is 9 inches taller than me and weighs almost twice as much as I do. I’ve had to flee the house on several occasions or else I would have died.
Mamma knows all of this, but she blames me for ”being a bitch. No wonder he hits you.” Mamma constantly tells me that I’m the problem and told me that I shouldn’t go to the authorities because ”it never ends well for anybody” or ”it will rip this family apart. ”That means no counseling or no calling 911 when he goes insane.
Just today, while I was in the shower he started yelling at me for being in there too long. He almost broke the door from slamming it open so hard, and he punched me through the shower curtain, making it fall down and exposing me. He was too angry to care. He kept calling me a myriad of horrible words and telling me that he hates me and everyone else hates me and nobody loves me. When I retaliated, he punched me twice in the chest while I was still naked.
This whole thing is a mess. When Mamma is home, she does nothing about it until he tries to hit mom or emotionally hurt my baby sister. He even tries to hurt his father figure, our uncle!
Please, I need help. My brother is only going further and further into madness and my life won’t be safe for long.
Signed: I’m scared
Dear Scared Sister,
As I mentioned above, I tried to contact you via email because I am extremely concerned that you are in a dangerous situation. As you said in your email, you have had to leave the house several times because you were afraid for your life. I want you to understand that your brother is not only physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive towards you, the incident in the shower is also sexually abusive as he did not respect your privacy in the shower and he hit your naked body.
I cannot stress enough that you MUST act on this and you cannot let it go. The fact that your mother calls you a “bitch” and tells you that this is your fault makes her abusive as well. It is her duty as your mother to protect you, and if she does not, she should not be responsible for you or your sister. She is using intimidation to scare you and keep you from getting help because she knows that she will be in trouble for not protecting you.
If you don’t want to do this for yourself, remember this: I guarantee you that it’s only a matter of time before your brother starts hitting your baby sister. He’s already emotionally abusive to her, so there is no reason for him to keep from hitting her as well. If you are not going to protect yourself, think about protecting your sister.
Please read the first response I wrote at https://advice.doctorbeheshti.com/sibling-abuse-among-twins/. In addition, here’s some extra advice.
Tell as many people as you can think of!!!
Talk to the police, your school counselor, aunt, uncle, cousins, friends, friends’ parents, teachers, principal, etc. You need to get this out in the open. First of all, someone may step up and offer to speak to your mother or help you stay at their place until your mother agrees to address the situation. Second, the more people who know, the more your mother will be compelled to do something about this.
Some of the people you talk to, such as your school counselors or teachers may call the police or CPS. That is just fine. Please don’t be intimidated by your mother’s assertions that nothing good will come out of it. The police and/or CPS can intervene and threaten to take your brother to Juvenile Hall or to take you away from your mother unless she figures out a way to protect you. Either way, your brother will get the message that he can no longer get away with hitting you, and your mother will understand that she will have to take action. They may both get mad at you and blame you for telling on them, but I’ll bet that neither will raise a hand on you for punishment.
Get away from your brother
Talk to friends and family and see if you can stay with someone else for a while. This will help you get out of the dangerous situation while you figure out your next steps.
If you have to stay at home, get your father figure or another adult to help you put locks or even better, bolts on doors, such as the bathroom door and your bedroom if you have your own room. That way, you can lock your brother out of the spaces you are in to keep yourself physically safe.
In times when you can’t be physically apart from your brother, stay as far away from him as possible, and be ready to run. Always have all escapes in mind when in a room with him. When he comes at you, don’t engage him; get away from him as fast as you can. Don’t ever forget that he’s physically dangerous, so run away from him.
Remember that you’re not helpless
Learn self-defense! Look it up online, ask your gym teacher, take martial arts or self defense classes. Your brother is much larger than you, but that only means you need to learn how to protect yourself against someone who has the physical advantage over you. There are always techniques that help us ward off an attack while finding an opportunity to run from our attackers. Learn these techniques!
Get a pepper spray or a taser depending on your state laws. Research to see if there are rules for or against carrying these items in your state. Whichever you get – and feel free to get both – you must have it on you at all times. See if you can get a taser or a pepper spray that you can hang around your neck. Practice using it so you’ll know how. You won’t be able to figure out its use when your brother is attacking you.
Finally, remember that one of the main reasons that your brother is abusive towards you is that he knows he can be. If he felt that there would be severe consequences for attacking you, he would think twice before he did so. If he has some mental health issue that makes him unable to control his impulses, then he is going to need help. You staying silent does not help him. For the life of me I can’t understand why your mother is refusing to protect you. Maybe she’s afraid of him, jealous of you, or maybe she just feels too afraid of him. Either way, she is failing to protect you which is her legal duty to do so. Last but not least, remember that if nothing changes, then it will only be a matter of time before your brother hurts your sister. Do something now before it gets any worse!
I do wish you the best, and I hope you will act on this soon,