Dear child who lives with a bully sibling,
LLP: Growing up with siblings can be tough, especially if you deal with sibling bullying. Read this author’s story on growing up with a verbally abusive sibling and how she overcame this situation by talking to someone.
If you have siblings then I’m sure you’ve probably heard how siblings drive each other crazy all the time. Your parents and other adults have told you not to listen to them because “that’s just what siblings do” when they say something hurtful. And of course you always have those sitcom siblings who argue and fight with each other, but then they make up by the twenty-minute mark. Yet what some people don’t realize that even if it’s expected, what our siblings say or do to us can still hurt us very badly. Sometimes they can be worse bullies than the ones at school. Believe me, you’re not alone. I myself have dealt with this.
My family is made up of my mom, my dad, my two older sisters, and me. I’m the baby of the family and, while being the youngest can have its perks (let’s just say I got away with a lot when I was younger), it was one of the most frustrating positions in my life. I was the littlest, always had to stay with someone, couldn’t go by myself, couldn’t play with the big kids, had to swim in the kiddie pool, was never tall enough to ride anything, I always had someone who was in charge of me, etc. My older sisters definitely took advantage of that fact. It was mainly my older sister who was the middle child. Ever since preschool days, she’s been a bully to me. At my oldest sister’s softball games, we would go to the nearby playground while Mom and Dad watched the game. If I got tired and wanted to go back to the chairs; nope, not happening according to my sister. She would chase me and drag me back to the playground with me crying. When we finally had to go back, she would force me to not tell Mom and Dad that she was mean to me. Now of course I’d always complain to my mom, but she would just pat my head and tell me, “That’s just what sisters do, it’ll be better when you’re older.”
Unfortunately, Mom wasn’t right on that matter. It only seemed to get worse as we got older. Middle school was when it really started to get bad. In 9th grade, my sister had gotten into some trouble with her friend involving drugs. They had been caught red-handed, and yet my sister would continuously deny she did anything wrong and claim she shouldn’t be punished with anything. Almost every night she would be arguing with my parents, screaming and crying about how they hated her. When school started, the stress of the situation at home was now mixed with the stress of bullies at school who picked on me every day. This of course did not lead to me having much self-esteem and my sister wasn’t very helpful at all with my problems. In fact she contributed to my problems, telling me I didn’t dress good, hung out with weirdos, and wouldn’t be popular unless I started acting like her. To add even more salt in the wound, she was actually friends with the people who bullied me at school, and told me that they didn’t do anything wrong and that I was overreacting. It just felt like a never-ending cycle; what happened at school would then follow me home.
But it was the worst when we got to high school. If my sister didn’t get what she wanted, she would make me miserable. Saying no to anything she asked me to do would result in an hour of her calling me the b-word and telling me I was selfish and didn’t do anything to help anyone. She would tell me that no boy would ever like me because I wasn’t hot enough and selfish. Sometimes she would threaten to hurt me physically just to get a reaction out of me. One time she even snuck into my room, read my diary, yanked out a page where I ranted about the things she did to me, and showed it to everyone in the house as if it were proof that I was a horrible human being.
At one point I became jealous of my friends who had sisters. Every time I went over to their houses, it seemed like their sisters were always there for them and watched out for them. Soon I started to think that maybe I actually was a horrible person, and my sister treating me badly was somehow my punishment. It got so bad that I asked my parents if my Christmas present could be a therapist.
Thankfully, therapy was very helpful and I slowly began getting my confidence and happiness back. I also started talking to my mom about how I felt on our car rides home from school, consoled with my friends about how I was feeling, and even my boyfriend was a great help. Mom, my friends, and my boyfriend all helped me see that I wasn’t a bad person, and that I shouldn’t believe the things my sister told me to put me down. I realized that even if I was stuck with a sibling who treated me bad, it wasn’t going to last forever and she only says those things just to make me feel bad.
What I want you to know, dear reader, is that a bully is a bully, even if you’re related. They don’t get a pass to treat you bad just because “that’s what siblings do.” No, that is not what a sibling does. A sibling is supposed to care about you, treat you with love, and help you learn and grow as they do the same thing. Sure, they can get on your nerves, but everyone can do that. A sibling is not supposed to treat you like you’re below them.
Just always know that if someone is treating you horribly, whether they’re related or not, the best thing to do is let someone know how you feel when they treat you badly. No one deserves to feel like they’re a horrible person.
Maybe things between you and your sibling can get better someday, or maybe they won’t. Time can only tell. Just remember that there are people who love you for being you, and you should surround yourself with people who treat you right. And if your sibling ever starts bullying you to the point where you’re in serious danger, physically or mentally, tell someone. Being silent will only lead to more pain. I know it’s really hard, they’re your sibling and you want to love them. But a sibling who tries to break your self-esteem is a bully, and you deserve to be treated better. Bullying is bullying, and abuse is abuse no matter who does it. But that doesn’t make you a bad person.
You’re a human being, unique and beautiful in your own way. Never let anyone make you feel like you’re less than that.
Someone who wants the world to be just a little more kind