Physically and mentally abused by sister


Physically and mentally abused by sister


your avatar   Confused, 18-year-old woman

Hi. I'm 18 years old and I'm going to college while living with my family. My sister lives with us too. She is 22 years old. Whenever she comes home she takes all of her frustrations out on me. She yells at me, screams at me, and hits me. She has abused me all my life and she has always told me that she was going to kill me. My parents tell her, "Stop or we'll kick you out" but nothing seems to work. She's legally an adult now and she still hasn't stopped abusing me. I can't stand living with her anymore and I have nowhere else to go.

I've debated getting a restraining order on her. Would that force her out of the house? I can't handle this anymore, I am about 5 inches shorter than her and 200 pounds less than her. I think we need help. What do I do? Thanks.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Confused,

I think "hurt" would be a better "nom de plume" for you. You are clear on what you want: peace and respect, and this is everyone's right.

I am going to give you two answers. The first, more urgent one, is for your physical protection.

I don't know where you live, but in most parts of the world it is a CRIME for one person to assault another. When your sister hits you, she is breaking the law. You have the right of protection from her.

In Australia, where I live, verbal abuse is also against the law, as is the verbal threat of violence. If the situation at your place is similar, you have legal protection from the threats and abuse as well as the actual violence.

You need to let your sister know this, and tell her that on the next occasion you will go to the Police, and let her bear the consequences. And don't make this an idle threat. If the occasion arises, DO it.

Now for my second answer. Your family has four unhappy people in it. Your parents and you are distressed by your sister's behavior. But, I am certain, your sister is the unhappiest of the lot.

What would she have written if she'd been the one to post a message at QueenDom? Do you think it would be something like this?

Please help me before I commit murder.

All my life, my parents have favored my younger sister. They have let me know in many ways that they don't love me. She is little Miss Perfect, dainty and beautiful and clever. She is only 18 but already in College. Me, I'm big and fat and ugly and have to work for a living.

Well, OK, that's the luck of the draw. I try to fit into the family, but every day since she was born, Mom and Dad have always compared us, and I have always come off second best. I try not to hate her, but does she have to be so smug about it?

And I have a stressful job, and I look in the mirror and know I'll never have a boyfriend never mind a husband and kids, and so I feel grumpy. It doesn't take much to set me off, and she knows all my triggers. She can get me furious quicker than anyone, and then of course it's all my fault, and the whole world is down on me, and it just proves that I am evil and she is perfect.

Now, I might have got many of the details wrong. For example, for all I know she may be a graduate, and have a loving boyfriend. But I am sure I got her general line of feeling and thinking right.

I am sure that from within HER world, she is in the right, and it's the rest of you who are making life impossible for her. And she is suffering.

This DOES NOT JUSTIFY VIOLENCE. She has no right to hit you, to threaten you, to verbally abuse you. But also, she needs help.

In the long term, the best protection for you is to have her feel happy within herself. So, even from your point of view, it is necessary to see what can be done to resolve the long-standing tensions.

She is responsible for her violence, but this doesn't mean that she is crazy or evil.

From her point of view, probably YOU re responsible for provoking her. This is no more true than the other view.

Neither of you is faulty. There is a problem between you.

I suggest that if my guess as to her line of thinking is approximately correct, you give her a copy of this response from me, and let this be a first step towards a new, mutually respectful relationship between the two of you.

And the second step should be some family therapy. Find a family therapist near where you live. This person will want the four of you together, and if s/he is any good, will help you to break through the long-standing cycles of mutual hate.

And let me know how you go, if you have followed my suggestions, and whether they have worked.

All the best,

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:

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