The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.
When there’s been so much talk about domestic violence, why are we still silent when it comes to sibling abuse?
Is domestic violence only limited to partners? Is a brother beating up his sister not an act of violence? Is it not a criminal act of domination and superiority of one person over the other.
What parents usually say is “ye sab toh behen bhai ke beech chalta rehta hai”. (It is a normal thing between siblings)
The fact is, they don’t realise that these trivial fights eventually take the form of intense aggressive, hate-filled behaviour. The attitude of parents remains cool and unaffected towards it, while the victim suffers physically, mentally and emotionally.
It is believed that sibling fights are likely to exist at the childhood stage and disappear as they grow up, unfortunately, this is not a universal truth. Sibling rivalry can take place in adulthood as well.
I am a victim at the age of 25. Being the youngest in my family and the only sister of two elder brothers, I have always been the centre of oppression. My brother who is five years older to me expects that I stay submissive and obedient towards him.
It started with a slap, and then, the intensity of the violence kept increasing. The frequency also increased, and the issues got more severe than being as trivial as fighting over a TV remote.
Now, the violence is accompanied by injuries, abusive language and more hate-filled monologues. If I rebel, I am compared to a ‘so-and-so’ girl who is such an epitome of goodness that she never reacts, even on being oppressed by three elder brothers. Sometimes, I am given a lecture on how some boys hit their sisters with sticks when they don’t behave, so I am still fortunate that my brothers are ‘lenient’ with me.
These are the days when I feel worthless, completely depressed and cry excessively.
Instead of correcting him, my mother comes to me and says “when you know how he is, then why do you mess with him” or she would say, “so what if he hits you, he loves and cares too”.
While I was writing about it, I thought, what if my post sounds stupid and people react the same way my parents do. What if they too normalize it saying, “this is common, it is natural, it happens, and not a thing to worry about”.
I read a report that says, “sibling abuse is an underreported phenomenon despite being the most common form of intra-familial abuse.”
Yes, people don’t talk about it because somewhere they believe it is acceptable. Sometimes parents conceal such issues so as to not spoil their family’s reputation.
After reading the report, I got encouraged to speak up for a problem that is of great concern. I hope that people take it into consideration.
Whenever a man realises his superiority is under threat, he thinks that the best way to get it back is through physical abuse over his female counterpart.
I call my brother by his name. He feels disrespected. Since he is just like any other patriarchal male, seeking respect and superiority, not getting enough makes him incandescent.
He says, “You deserve this and I’ll keep doing it until you learn to behave and respect me”.
Usually, in the families, it is said, “wo maar sakta hai uska haq hai”. (He can hit you, he has the right.) My question is, who gave him that right?
Why is the narrative always about respecting your brother, husband, father and never about respecting your sister, wife, and mother?
I believe a man who raises his hand on his sister would definitely do the same with his wife. Violence happens because people allow it to.
Parents fail to teach their sons the equality that we, today, are fighting for. While they put all their efforts teaching their daughters the values and codes of conduct.
They somewhere forget about giving the same values to their sons.
A person who goes through this kind of abuse experiences low self-esteem, depression and hopelessness. There aren’t enough laws to govern such issues of physical and psychological abuse.
Don’t let yourself suffer alone, in silence. Speak out for what you feel is wrong. When you permit anyone raising a hand on you, it is in no sense justifiable.
Citation: (Button & Gealt, 2010) High-Risk Behaviors Among Victims of Sibling Violence