When There Is No Getting Away: The Grief of Sibling Bullying

Sisters on the floor together, coloringMaybe there is an increase of bullying in our society. Maybe there is an increase in awareness. Either way, it is getting a lot of attention these days. Teachers and parents are sensitized to the signs of bullying and are becoming more skilled at breaking the cycle and protecting bullied children. But what happens when the bully is not a classmate or a teammate or a neighbor? What happens when the bully is in the victim’s own home? Recent research in Great Britain suggests the effects are severe and long-term.

Since time immemorial, siblings have pried their way under each other’s skin. Arguing and jockeying for position in the family are part of growing up. The problem is that sometimes parents misunderstand what they are witnessing in their children. What they view as sibling rivalry can actually be bullying. There is a simple way to tell the difference.

When two children are sparring, it is easy to observe that they are both upset and both engaged in the clash. Parents can intervene and set the rules of engagement, teach the value of mutual respect, and offer children templates for managing disagreements at home and with those they may face in the world outside the home. But when one sibling is bullying another, it is only the bully who is engaged and seeming to delight in the taunting. The bullied child is miserable. The only response for parents is to stop the bullying. Period. There is no false equivalency: they are not equally at fault. There is no need for mutual apology. There is only stopping the aggression and offering solace and protection to the victim.

Most sibling bullying takes the form of name-calling and insults, both of which are passive-aggressive behaviors the bully can deny when confronted. “She’s taking it too seriously!” “She started it!” “If she weren’t such a brat, this would not have happened.” It is never the bully’s fault. The bully loves to play the role of victim. And the bully can be very convincing to parents who are too distracted or too exhausted to figure out what is really going on.

Meanwhile, the victim—for the purposes of this article, we’ll use young girls as our examples—feels unsafe in her own home. She returns from school with dread every day, emotionally defended and prepared for a shellacking by her sister, who can be older or younger than she is. She learns that her parents cannot or will not intervene on her behalf. She feels defenseless and begins to doubt her own perception. It is a form of gaslighting: the bully sibling makes the victim wonder whether she really is the nasty, incompetent, bratty person the bully is telling her she is.

The likely victim in sibling bullying is the child who is sensitive and thoughtful. The bully is likely to have problems which the parents do not see. These can be related to being bullied herself at school, for example, or they can be the result of transferring the effects of her own trauma onto someone else. Often in dysfunctional families where a child feels unsupported or ignored, that child will take it out on a sibling because for any number of reasons she fears that going directly at the parent would crash her own fragile world, regardless of how unpleasant it may be.

There are also other, less obvious, explanations for bullying a sibling. Children can have personality conditions, just as adults can. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) offers a diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder to describe children under the age of 18 who exhibit behaviors devoid of compassion and empathy for others. The adult version of this is antisocial personality. This is a potentially serious problem.

It is a daunting situation for a parent to face the possibility that a child might need psychotherapeutic care. Sometimes, it is more than parents can bear to face. They feel ashamed, somehow responsible, for the behavior of their bullying child. Though bullies crop up more often in families with trauma, alcoholism, or other chronic dysfunction, these components are not always in place. Sometimes, with all the best of support and parental supervision, children need help from professionals. Bullies generally are not happy people, as children or as adults.

If you’re a parent, closely monitor your children’s arguing. Be certain that’s actually what you are seeing. If the playing field is not level and one child enjoys the other child’s distress, you are not looking at normal sibling development. You are looking at bullying, and your role as a parent is to stop it immediately.

But there is plenty of material available to parents to help them disarm bullies. My concern here is with the victim. Often, it is the victim who is told by well-meaning parents either to ignore the bully or to fight back. Neither of these approaches feels possible to the typical victim child. And neither is effective, anyway: ignoring a bully is tantamount to goading her, and fighting back is unrealistic advice for a child whose temperament is neither adversarial nor combative.

She is at risk for low self-esteem, depression, and even self-harm as a result of being bullied by a sibling who renders the home an unsafe place. Where is the victim to go? Children have neither the means nor the power to remove themselves from an environment that is so painful. She is stuck enduring the grief until she can manage to leave home for college or move on to the workforce and her own apartment.

But she is insufficiently prepared. She might develop a sarcastic style, for example, which pushes people away from her when she most needs contact with others and trusted friends. She is deeply wounded. She rejects herself the way her bullying sibling rejected her for all those years. She does not feel lovable. She is deeply sad. And she doesn’t understand why. These consequences can go on for a victim’s entire life. She can forever struggle with self-doubt and negative self-talk, taking over the belittling work of the bully long after both have left home.

A sensitive and talented child can remain hobbled if sibling bullying is left unaddressed. It is not unusual for bully and victim roles to continue well into adulthood. If the victim marries and has her own children, and then finally comes to see it is in her best interest to sever relations with her bullying sibling, her own children and family may condemn her for what they do not understand, and which she is unable to adequately explain.

If you’re a parent, closely monitor your children’s arguing. Be certain that’s actually what you are seeing. If the playing field is not level and one child enjoys the other child’s distress, you are not looking at normal sibling development. You are looking at bullying, and your role as a parent is to stop it immediately. This is in the interest of both the victim and the bully.

If you are an adult struggling with the confusing long-term damage of having been bullied at home, supportive counseling can help you understand yourself better. You can address why you were unable to defend yourself as a child (likely because you didn’t understand what was happening) and that it was your parents’ responsibility to intervene and protect you (which they didn’t, for reasons unique to them). You can also unravel the roots of any current problems you may have with confidence and self-worth. Please don’t be surprised if they derive from the way your sibling treated you as a child. And please be alert to the possibility this behavior may be continuing toward you in the present. Counseling can help you identify ongoing toxic relationships in your family of origin and guide you toward setting boundaries in order to stop behaviors that are harmful to you.

It is unlikely you can disarm a sibling who bullied you as a child and who is now an adult. Adult bullies tend to become ever more adept at the plausible deniability inherent in passive-aggressive behavior (“Oh, that’s not what I meant,” for example, when you try, however cautiously, to hold them accountable for poor behavior). This isn’t to say change isn’t possible.

Finally, it is important to remember that no happy person would choose to bully another, regardless of their insistence that they are happy and you are the problem. Compassion you may feel for the bully can only take you so far, however. You must also take steps to guard yourself from the ongoing effects of their continued disrespect toward you.


Bowes, L., Wolke, D., Joinson, C., Lereya, S. T., & Lewis, G. (2014, September 8). Sibling bullying and risk of depression, anxiety, and self-harm: A prospective cohort study. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0832

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Arnie

    December 19th, 2017 at 10:27 AM

    I was the youngest in our family, and my bully was the middle child, let’s call him S. S would call me names, sure, but he would also give me noogies, stick gum in my hair, give me indian burns, call me names, break my things. I still have difficulty being touched, and often when people tease me (even my friends) I can’t help but cry.

    I later found out he had been abused by a neighbor, so I understand why it happened that way. But it doesn’t change the impact it had on me.

  • Sarah Swenson

    December 19th, 2017 at 11:05 AM

    Hello, Arnie – I”m sorry to hear this. You make a very good point: understanding this problem doesn’t change the fact that it hurt you and even continues to be something you must deal with. Take care of yourself with the compassion you demonstrate in understanding your brother.

  • francine

    April 23rd, 2019 at 5:55 PM

    i am the oldest sibling out of 2 my younger brother bullied me a lot and my parents did nothing even today as an adult i still have to put up with my younger brother we are adults now when i visit them my younger brother disrepects me.

  • Geanie S

    August 30th, 2019 at 12:04 AM

    My heart hurts to see my grandson bullying his younger brothers. After reading the article, I realize the younger brothers have to be safe in their home. Not sure what I can do, try to address the bullying but their Mom (my daughter) denies and refuses to believe he is bullying his brothers. He is now 14 and a 6 foot 170 lb man who is still bullying his brothers 9 and 7 years old. Today I tried to address it again, the younger boys are now being intimidated to deny, anything is happening! I cannot sleep, knowing-she even took the locks off their doors so they can’t even get away. What can a Grandmother do? I have helped raise the oldest a lot, he started teasing and taunting and physically controlling them. He denies everything he does and blames it on the little ones! Is it wrong to call him a bully when he is bullying? I want him to realize he is a bully to them, and want him to get help, so he can stop hurting them. But most of all there has to be help to protect the little ones!

  • Debbie

    December 20th, 2017 at 9:41 AM

    I was bullied by my the middle brother. I was the youngest. My mother thought he was jealous of me. She knew he was a bully not just to me but to others (including teachers!) So she at least had some understanding and she tried to defend me as she knew I was the victim. But I don’t think she really knew how to handle my brother. I didn’t realize I was bullied until recently. I have poor self-esteem and also am very quick to anger. I have been in therapy for depression for about four years now. Learning self-compassion and self-love is very difficult for me.

  • Sarah Swenson LMHC

    December 21st, 2017 at 12:32 AM

    I’m sorry to hear this, Debbie. The long-term effects can be staggering. Like your mother, i believe that envy is a core problem in sibling bullies. Addressing this in counseling with the child might be helpful for all concerned. Warm wishes to you.

  • MT teacher

    December 20th, 2017 at 1:00 PM

    I’m a teacher and I always wonder about their brothers and sisters when I see bullies at school. Are the families addressing their issues and preventing them from hurting their own siblings? Sometimes I feel powerless in the face of the bullying issue. Only so much teachers can do.

  • Sarah Swenson LMHC

    December 21st, 2017 at 12:28 AM

    You make a good point. Often, the behavior of children who bully a sibling is clearly visible in the school setting. I can see how challenging it would be for a teacher in considering whether to address it with parents.

  • ahbuddha

    December 20th, 2017 at 3:48 PM

    Isn’t this just abuse? I feel minimized when I’m told I was bullied. I was ABUSED! why are we afraid to use that term with children? I feel it is part of what perpetuates the cycle. “it was just bullying” well, if an adult beat you senseless and locked you in a closet for hours… would that just be bullying?

  • Sarah Swenson LMHC

    December 21st, 2017 at 12:25 AM

    Yes, of course it is abuse. All bullying is abusive. Any time one person demeans the experience of another person, it is abuse.

  • IndianSummer

    April 15th, 2018 at 12:22 PM

    I come from a dysfunctional family. I bullied my younger sister terribly. She was a normal child but because of my constant abuse (psychological. physical), she developed OCD, became withdrawn, and eventually was hospitalized. She seemed to have a psychotic break. Since age 8, she has been in either mental institutions or group homes. She is now 40. My parents blamed me for her ruining her life and so do I. Since age 18, I have been depressed, suicidal and have hated myself. My sister suffers with severe OCD, trichotillomania, tourettes, some kind of developmental disorder, ODD, and BPD. I am to blame for everything. She has suffered constantly and is on a ton of psych medications. I have chronic illness myself but its nothing compared to what she goes through. I pray to die soon so i dont have to live with the guilt anymore.

  • CopperBeech

    May 2nd, 2018 at 12:30 PM

    Hey, IndianSummer, don’t beat yourself up so much. Childhood bullying can hurt you deeply but I don’t think you are to blame for ruining her entire life. If she developed things from age 8 that’s very young and sounds like it had other components than just environmental – genetic etc. Don’t listen to your parents. Sometimes, something is no-one’s fault and it’s just what has happened and we have to live with it. The fact that you are on this page and remorseful shows that for a long time you have cared about your sibling. The fact that you are still looking this stuff up after all these years shows that, despite everything that has happened to your family, you still care for them and LOVE them, which is a triumph of your heart over all odds. I wish for peace and better days for you and your entire family. God Bless.

  • noname

    September 30th, 2023 at 12:52 AM

    YES it is your fault, leave her alone, its that simple. its not that hard to be kind to someone. Why do you feel the need to treat someone like that, even your own family members. Your poor sister probably looked up to you and you have deeply hurt her with your abuse. Reflect, and seek professional help, and stop hurting other people

  • elizabth

    April 15th, 2018 at 6:44 PM

    I am the last of six children. The middle three bullied me, each in a unique way.
    joe was 5 years older He stopped calling me by name, preferring to call me “fatnugly”for nearly 10 years.

    He regularly told me I’d be better of if I just killed myself. If I spoke he would make faces of discust and call me stupid under his breath. As an adult he is indifferent. I have visited to check on his kids when they were young. I observed him giving his wife the same treatment he gave me. I suspect its vulnerability he is reacting to. How might I go about talking to him about this?

  • Getting By

    November 20th, 2018 at 4:53 AM

    I thank you for your article, and feel so much pity for anyone going through bullying at the hands of family members.
    I just wanted to say that I have been through so much bullying at the hands of an older sister and parents, now in my fifties, I honestly don’t know why or how I am still here; I did try counselling a couple of times but was met with 1 counsellor who did not believe me, her condescending approach was “I’m sure they did not mean it”, – this hurt so much. Another counsellor told me that “I must have known that I was not at fault” etc. Sorry, but just totally weary of counsellors.
    I just want to also add that it’s bad enough to go through such pain, it never leaves you, however hard you try to block it, but it’s even worse to meet with a “professional” who belittles you. I simply don’t understand this. I never spoke to anyone again, and sometimes the pain and misery of my childhood becomes too much to bear, I’m in my fifties and it never leaves you. I could never bully or hurt another living soul. but there we are..

  • PB

    November 23rd, 2018 at 12:33 AM

    Getting By – there are counsellors that can help, eventually you can find one (I did, eventually). You may have PTSD (or even Complex-PTSD) (or C-PTSR) … have a look at Richard Grannon’s youtube videos on these subjects, which have NLP techniques to help you break out of the body/mind habits developed to protect yourself growing up. It really does help. Also look at EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), which is like EDMR (used in PTSD treatment). Try and do thing like yoga and mindfulness, especially compassionate self-loving (lots of free stuff online) and journal and read up on loving yourself. Take care, you matter and are worthy.

  • S. Isaac

    December 21st, 2018 at 2:35 AM

    So being the oldest out of three siblings I feel constantly bullied by my youngest sister ever since she started in middle school. She became very bitter towards us and gets away with alot of the stuff she pulls on me and my twin brother. She belittles and and abuses her power as being the toughest person in the house yet screams at a spider or is too afraid of something. I don’t understand why she goes out of her way to flaunt how superior she is compared to us. I am autistic, so im tend to be slow when it comes to social interactions. Its been going on for years, its gotten even worse in college as I am attending my third year in college and we both started in 2016. The year she graduated and attended school. She says to some of her instructors that she doesn’t like to grad in the same year as me, I found that insulting and hurtful as I took two years off of school too focus on job hunting and develop a work ethic, something she sorely lacks as well. Especially when we both got hired in a gas station. We both got complaints that we do poorly yet we weren’t trained properly, when I am at home, she tells me that its my fault for leaving behind a lot of tasks to do and yet she is terrible at it. Even my former co-workers had told me that she was quite rude and complains a lot like a spoiled brat. Even having a driver’s license she pulls that card to flaunt her status as another driver. It irks me so many times she says that to me.
    Another prime example was that during our 21st birthday, she was very controlling of what to do and while driving up to campus, she was being demanding and threatening to just ditch me at the side of the road just for speaking back to her. She even got mad enough to return my birthday gift back to the store after that argument. I didnt even want to deal with her after that day and she was quiet wont even acknowledge my existence. Everyday its like she presses my buttons all the time just for gratification and I dont know how to stop it and my grandfather and my mother dont even get involved anymore, and I am close to the end of my wits with her. I just want some advise of what to deal with such a rotten brat such who flaunts being superior to her older siblings who have autism.

    What am I suppose to do?

  • lilbil

    April 22nd, 2019 at 10:43 PM

    Not only have I been bullied by my four sisters every chance they got, my cousin and her mother were also bullies. I only recently discovered my sisters involvement by discovering that my signature was forged and any inheritance I was owed went to one of them. When I was being bullied by my cousin, I would share with my sisters and they told me I was making it up and then tease me about it. My cousin literally had her gang of girlfriends spitball me on the bus ride home. If a boy acted interested in me, it was a guarantee she would be dating them the next day. My sisters would tease me about that. I learned later in my adulthood that my aunt made her boyfriends call her sister’s husband to tell him she was cheating on him. Of course I saw this as an opportunity to prove my aunts evil ways and the fact she was coaching her daughter to bully me. When I told my oldest sister
    about this she rolled her eyes and said something like are still making stuff up. I am only 52 years old, sick and dead broke. Homeless shelter hear I come because my very own children have been turned against me. My father is still alive but he favors the oldest and insists she would never. I am so tired of being told to be the bigger person and blah blah blah. These people have committed crimes. I am left all alone like I am the guilty one. This is just wrong. They have had family holiday dinners without inviting me. Or sister outings, that I only find out about by accident years later. There is more but whatever what’s the point.

  • E

    July 3rd, 2019 at 6:16 PM

    I find myself in a situation where an older sibling continues her bullying as an adult. My parents spoiled my big sister and yelled at me for complaining if she attacked me physically or called me names. The bully grew up to believe she is the center of the universe and cannot handle the real world where she does not receive the preferential treatment she expects. This article does not mention how a bully unchecked can grow into a violent and dishonest adult. She hides true nature from her “friends” but rages at me about how she hopes people who slighted her would get raped or murdered and that she hopes other people’s children will die. As a sister, she still engages in robbing and name calling, but the violence stopped when I told a mutual acquaintance that I was considering going to the police. Her violence towards me lasted until she was 39. Becauase I saw too late that someone who does bad things is really just a bad person, she has robbed me of my entire life (and posessions) and I am trapped still with a large 160lb person who still has the mind of a violent and tyrranical spoiled child. I will hate my parents forever for refusing to address this when it was their responsibility.

  • Nikita

    February 21st, 2020 at 8:29 AM

    It is heartbreaking to me to read all of these stories. For some reason, I was just reminded of the bullying I endured as a child…I think because of the 9 year old Australian boy who was just on television who was bullied and said he wanted to die. I had the exact same feelings at 9 years old. I am the youngest of 7 children and was bullied by my brother who was 3 years older. But I was also bullied at school. I was called a “tattle tale” by my siblings and my parents told me to “ignore” my brother as he was taunting me and smacking me on the side of my head. I had to get stitches in my chin because he made me fall onto a concrete floor once. I don’t know how I survived my childhood with all of this ugliness coming from all directions.

  • R

    April 20th, 2020 at 2:15 PM

    Oldest daughter here. Grew up believing I was the bully, the abuser, the monster. My mother, father, and sister all fed into it. My mother would humiliate me in front of my sister and my father bought her everything she wanted, including makeup kits and other things I was promised I would be the first to receive when I reached a certain age. All this taught my sister it was okay and even encouraged to treat me like garbage.
    Every day was a fight with her. She would scream for our mom, who would take her side without fail. Sister had the nerve to tell me *I* was the favorite child. She’d try and break my toys, and get our father to join her in picking on me for everything from how I dressed to what music I liked. She would punch, kick, bite, pull my hair, trip me around hard surfaces (including a brick fireplace) and dig her nails into my skin. If I ever fought back or defended myself, I was punished and told I was bad because I was bigger than she was.
    When she reached puberty things got so much worse. Not only was she now much stronger than I was, she also picked up a slew of swear words and would call me a “stupid bitch” almost daily. Parents heard and father never intervened, mother would gently ask her not to say those things, “it’s not nice.” She screamed about what a stupid bitch I was because I wanted her to get out of bed to visit our mother when she was in the hospital following her mastectomy. She threatened me with scissors and almost bit a chunk out of my arm. She nearly clawed my right eye out in a fit of rage. She hit my dog because I hit her shoulder (lightly) during an argument to get her attention. She shoved her middle finger in my face and told me she wished I’d get raped. Mother was right there for the last one. All she did was step between us and ask her, again, not to say such things because “that’s not nice.” Despite all this, I was still vilified by the rest of the family and made to feel like I deserved every bit of this for my treatment of her as a child.
    Things only got better when I (stupid, stupid) came to her practically begging for forgiveness for all the years I “tormented” her. She graciously accepted my apology. After that, if I ever did anything to offend her, we were back at square one. If she ever abused me (which still happened constantly), I was told I was being overdramatic and to let it go.
    Mother avoids any negative talk about her pumpkin’s mental state (mine was always fair game) and has always enabled her and been there for her as a mother while I was left out in the cold. I suffered from depression for years (wonder why) and most of it was in silence out of fear for how my parents would react. At 11 years old it was so bad I contemplated suicide. I mentioned the topic of suicide to my mother. I was barely eating, crying all the time. I had to pull myself out of that mindset, because no one helped me. Next year, Sister has taken up the habit of screaming that she’s going to kill herself every time she doesn’t get what she wants. Mother freaks out every time, crying and begging her not to do it, and how much she’d miss her. When I confronted our mother on her double standard, she turned it around on me and said I always pushed her away when she asked what was wrong. Yeah. My fault again, as is everything.
    I’m finally out of that horrible place and am safe, as is my dog. Trying to keep contact to a minimum with father but still talked regularly to mother & sister until this lockdown started and I had so much free time to really reflect on everything I’ve been made to bottle up over the years. Was I perfect? Heck no. But her behavior was much, much worse. She’s not talking to me now since she’s upset that I tried to talk through the abuse with our mother (again), and finally asked, “How would you feel if *I’d* been the one to wish Sister got raped?” Sure enough, Mother got furious and spoke to me in a tone she’d never used for her darling little princess. Sister overheard and is now upset with me that I dared say something like that about her. When she told me those exact words years ago, I was told to “give her space” and let it go. If I say it, making it clear it was a test for our mother and that I could never, ever mean such a horrible thing, I get the silent treatment for days and guilt-tripped for being such an awful older sister.
    Sorry for the gigantic comment. It’s been so hard lately and I just needed to vent. Stay healthy and safe.

  • S

    May 4th, 2020 at 5:12 PM

    dear R,
    I’m so happy that you’re doing okay now and I’m so glad to hear that you’re out of your familie’s house and you now have the space to reflect on your own, that is so crucial! I am so sorry that you had to deal with that kind of gaslighting as a child, nobody should ever have to deal with that kind of abuse, especially as a kid when we’re so vulnerable.
    I am an oldest daughter as well and was bullied by my younger brother a lot when I was a kid. Similairly to you I was often told by my parents “he’s just trying to get a rise out of you, just ignore him” or he would provoke me and then i would end up getting in trouble for his actions. It’s really had some long term effects on me, especially in the relationship that I now have with men.
    I’ve recently been in therapy and it has helped me a lot! You should look into therapy as well, just make sure that it’s someone who will validate your feelings. Once you have someone who understands you and can give you advice it’s life changing.

  • Jane

    November 18th, 2020 at 4:00 AM

    Being bullied by my 2 eldest brothers after my father left home has affected me my whole life in my both in personal and work life. I am a sensitive soul, have always been under confident not sure of my abilities and have zero self esteem. I was a little girl of 6 my elder brothers were 14 and 16 when my Dad left, with my Dad gone and my Mum in a bad place mentally there was no one to protect me from the bullying. Neither ever apologised for what they put me through as a small child. I left home at 17 to join the Forces, I never felt able to have my own family, worried I would be a complete failure. I feel like an orphan with no real belonging to my own family. I sometimes think I should never have been born into my family, I was the only girl in 5 siblings, you would think I would have been the most doted on, frankly I feel invisible as far as my family are concerned. Thank God for my friends!

  • Harlem

    January 6th, 2021 at 9:14 PM

    I am the 2nd oldest girl of 5 kids (4 girls, 1 boy) My older sister made my life hell, tormenting me within an inch of my life, both physically and emotionally. Besides being born, I never knew what I did to upset her to have her be so mean to me. She is almost 4 years older than me. Nevermind the countless beatings, name calling, insulting etc I got from her, she got the other younger sibling on her bandwagon and then they tormented me at times too. She would take my friends away from me and turn them against me, also at school she made sure to humiliate me there too. My dad wasn’t around much, mom worked all the time so she was “in-charge” to look after us. It was awful! When I complained to my mom about it, she was too tired to deal with and/or my sister would deny what happened. When my dad was around, he would only say “can’t you two just get along?!” Thats all I wanted too, was to be able to just get along but she was so toxic that it was impossible. I’m almost 44 now and she is 47. Even as an adult, she can still be mean at times. Not as bad as she was when we were kids but its still there and I’ll never forget how sinister she was to me. She still has never apologized to me and I wouldn’t be surprised if she never does. I don’t hate her but I don’t love her, I will never love her, the thought of me ever loving her, honestly makes me want to barf! I’m at peace within myself to know that I don’t “have to” love her and I’m ok with that. Despite how awful she was, I do wish her peace and hope she gets help for whatever made her so toxic. I pray for anyone else who has survived sibling bullying. God bless!

  • A

    January 22nd, 2021 at 2:10 AM

    I was sexually abused by my older brother by means of prodding and inappropriate grabs, suggestiveness and intimidation and bribery. I dreaded when he came home as he would greet me by twisting my arm behind my back. I became frightenened to open the door when he came home. He also locked me in a dark pantry when i was very young. I am fraught with anxiety issues and self worthlessness and I struggle to use a lift today. I hate him I really hate him. I’m 59 now and its just come pouring out. sorry if this sounds so negative. I feel like I have no one.

  • Apoorv

    February 25th, 2021 at 12:19 AM

    Now , I realize I have been a bully. I was bullied in school and also bullied my sibling ….. I feel terrible guilt and sorrow.I do not know what to do . I realise because of me he has low self esteem and under confidence. Please help … I want to make up for it .The regret is killing me.

  • Rheanna

    April 19th, 2021 at 6:00 PM

    I am 17 and my sister is 13 and she has been saying things under her breath so my mum couldn’t hear and whenever she did something that would make me really angry and makes sure that mum is doing something or she is outside and then Allyssa would always made sure i would get the blame for everything and i am EXTREMELY SICK OF.. Somedays i want to get a metal bat and hit her in the head.

  • Dese

    May 19th, 2021 at 11:40 AM

    Hi Rheanna, Even if your little sister may be really annoying do not take your anger out on her. Because you will go to jail by abusing your sister since she is a minor. I do hope your okay and well now though
    Good Day

  • Polly

    June 11th, 2021 at 6:27 PM

    I am the 4th of 5 siblings. The middle sibling, my sister bullied me throughout my life and to this day tries to but…… no more.. she told me as an adult that if she didn’t make me cry that day she would wake me up to insult me until I cried. My mother supported her behavior 100% because my sister was modeling my mother’s behavior in many ways. As my mother said,”we tease because we love you.” So love makes you feel sad? I married a man who abused me until I had our son and found unconditional, infinite love. It took me a few years to get out. After my mother died my sister told me she always hated me, does every thing she can to avoid me at functions, and all of that is because my younger sister and I are such close friends. The bully sister said that she should have been my best friend. My younger sister and I always shared a room, wore the same clothes, went to the dentist and doctors together and were called the “two little girls” until the day my mother died, I was 59 years of age. I am not angry and I am grateful to have figured out why I allowed “love” to be abusive. I tried over our adult years to be a friend, it was awkward and hard but my bully sister would call me often off and on. I cringed every time I saw her number come up but answered the call, asked her the right questions and dreaded the next week when she would call again. My mother was a narcissist and I suspect my sister is too as well as anti-social. She is NEVER wrong even when facts show differently. My younger sister and I continue to have a healthy unconditional relationship. We are still best friends and I have to thank my mother for our label as one entity, “the two little girls.” I do think my bully sister has some regret? Interestingly enough my younger sister and oldest sister got together last month and the teasing that went on in our family came up. My oldest sister said,”oh that was so much fun” but she was never the one teased. My bully sister has declined every invitation to get together since my mother died 6 years ago.

  • Tracy

    July 9th, 2021 at 10:02 AM

    I am the youngest of three children, and my older sister is ten months older than I am. She was horrible to me for my entire childhood, with constant name-calling and put-downs. We also had the much of same peer group, and she would make plans with them, while leaving me out. My parents let her do all of this, which only confirmed in my mind at a young age that I was worthless, and that this is how my like will be, always on the outside looking in. I was also punished on a regular basis for any reacting to her mistreatment, but her behavior was never addressed. Recently my mother asked me how I could have such a low opinion of myself, when I am an intelligent and beautiful grown woman. Everything from my childhood came pouring out of my mouth, and how it has affected me. My mother told me that she spoke to therapist many years ago when I was a child, and the therapist told her to let my sister and I handle this amongst ourselves (or I would never detach from my mother). I am quite shocked that a therapist would give this advice (even if it was 30+ years ago), and the outcome of allowing this to happen only made me feel worthless and made my attachment to my mother even stronger. I adore my mother, but it is so difficult to wrap my head around how she could allow this for many years. It has brought up a wave a sadness that is hard for me to let go of, and I do harbor guilt for upsetting my mother with my rehashing of this. I do not hold any resentment towards my sister. She grew into a wonderful person and a caring sibling. We were children and our parents made the decisions. The toll it took on my self-image and esteem is still there, and I am left as a woman in her 40s, trying to develop a positive sense of self. I feel so pitiful.

  • junze

    July 12th, 2021 at 2:07 AM

    I’m the middle child. And the case in my family is the oldest child keeps telling the mid child to do something that the oldest child dont want to do. Example: Go Mop, Vacuum the floor, many hard things. And the oldest child just sitting on the sofa listening to loud kpop. Cause im the only boy here, im most likely to do some dirty stuff. The youngest child is influnced by the oldest child, turns out that the whole house is playing kpop (BTS or something i dont know) at HIGH volume, like, tf? Why? And i didnt complain anything to my parents cause my parents dont trust me. And my parents thought my sis do all the famlily work like WTF? And i do some terrible things. Beat up my youngest sis. Yes. theres alot of bruises, I got relieved. You think im crazy? This family is rigged, oldest child vape, do some fucked up things. And my sis always tell me to do some things that will cause parents scolded me. Again, many dark secret in my family, so so many fucked up stuff in my family, its rigged.

  • Amy

    November 27th, 2021 at 10:19 AM

    My sister was 14 months older than me and was mainly physically abusive, with a side of verbal abuse. Our parents were totally self-absorbed people who neglected the both of us. When I was 8 months old I had a scull fracture from falling off something. When I was a year old my sister and I had our stomachs pumped because we swallowed a bunch of pills someone left around. When my sister was 5 she fell out of the car while it was moving because the door wasn’t latched. It was the 70’s and my father, who had been raised conservatively, was deciding he wanted an open marriage and going out and sleeping with a lot of other women. They divorced when I as 4 and my sister was 5 years old and my mom told us he was “leaving us to sleep with other women”. So there was a lot of reason for my sister to be angry, and she took it all out on me. She hit me until I cried and then once I cried she would feel bad and beg me not to tell our mom. My role in the family also became the peacemaker and the one who tried to cheer everyone up with silly shenanigans. It felt like my job to keep my mom happy, so she’d be nicer, and my sister would maybe stop being so angry and taking it out on me. But of course I was just a little kid with no power. My sister got a lot bigger than me, from eating to cope, and her physical abuse got dangerous. Then she threatened to kill me a few times, and put holes in my bedroom door with a hammer. She was sent to a therapist but I realize now that my parents probably were not concerned for me, only for her and for the damage to the house. My mom cared so much about her house. Her house had to be perfect all the time. I did try to get my mom to help me with my sister’s abuse but she only said “it takes two to fight” and also told me that my sister loves me, as if that was relevant at all. I wrote a lot as a kid, to cope. Since no one would listen to me, I wrote about the fights like a reporter, documenting it, and thinking that one day I’d get away and they’d be sorry to see me go. Well, I’m 49 now, and that day is here. But I can tell you that nothing really helps to make the past better. My sister feels terrible about her abuse now, but my mom laughs it off. My mom will even bring it up to me, expecting me to also laugh about it with her. Both my parents (and my sister too) are still so self-absorbed and in that way nothing has changed. I spent so much of my young life trying to problem solve my family, and planning how I would rescue them all so we could all be happy. I grew up simultaneously wanting to avoid them, and wanting to fix/save them. I have a wonderful husband and two grown boys and I made sure my kids treated each other well. I watched them like a hawk too. I purposefully bought a house without a basement and where I could supervise them all the time. I can’t forgive my mom mostly, because she gaslighted me, and still does. I don’t feel any connection or love for my sister, my mom or my dad really. I have only felt this obligation for them, and this responsibility to fix/save them. I am working on letting go of that responsibility and I’m getting there. I am starting to finally feel free from them, and like it’s okay to just worry about myself and my husband and kids and be happy.

  • laurie

    January 23rd, 2023 at 5:27 PM

    How does one deal with a person who refuses to acknowledge what they do? Our younger daughter seems to like being mean to her older sister. The older one is quiet, and dyslexic, and often cannot defend herself verbally. She has tried that, but the younger one just shouts her down. The older one is always in the wrong, and so has retreated and no longer bothers to try to stand up for herself. It’s not worth the abuse she gets if she does. Its really sad to watch…:(

  • Esteban

    February 27th, 2023 at 9:24 PM

    Hey, I am 13 and I have an older brother who calls me a prick, gets in my face and yells at me, hits me, he once said I was the cancer of my family, he wants me dead, I sometimes try to annoy my mom so I can get attention and he comes out of his room, yells at me, and when my mom asks him why is he yelling at me, he said “I am annoying.” I am still a YOUNG CHILD, I am not really an adult, my brother wishes I am dead, I am crying right now as I make this comment, I called my dad to get me food because my mom was busy, my brother was angry because I was calling my mom, we didn’t have that much food, we only had canned or frozen food, he comes out of his room yelling, “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!?!?! ILL GO GET IT!!!!!!!!” I ignored him because I did not want to argue with him, he yells at me as I am on the call with my dad, and my dad says “Esteban, he is asking you what you want.” and I told him “Why the f* are you helping him?! he is yelling at me!!! and your telling me that I have to talk calmly?!” and my brother said “Are you deaf?!” and my dad doesn’t get upset at him, and my dad told him to talk to him in private and I hear them, I didn’t hear him getting in trouble, now when I get my food, I tell my brother “Are you gonna call me prick more?” and he says “I am not in the mood” he was in the mood before he left, The only reason I tell him off the way he tells me off, is because he is an almost 18 year old in my face yelling “Are you deaf?! Have fun alone, prick!” I told him I was gonna kill him if he kept doing abuse to me, my F*ING counselors at school don’t do shit except for “Ignore him” I know this is so bad to say but I might have no choice if he lays another hand on me, I will injure him because I had enough abuse, I went through 7 years of abuse, abuse started in kindergarten. I had suicidal thoughts, He hates me, I learned how to bar-b-que and cooked for him and he is mean and still eats it, I was so sad, I am probably gonna run away, you people might think he is probably gonna come back to his house, NO I am not, If you were me, you would not last a decade, I am running away because he is a f*ing crazy person that I might kill one day so no more abuse happens, but I am giving him one last chance before I, A, Kill him, B, Grab my shit and run away with my phone, and C, Threaten to kill him if he do not stop with the threats, the abuse, the physical abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, I am not getting killed by him, never in a million years, I do not care if he punches hard, next time he makes me bleed, ill make him bleed, I can’t with this abuse anymore, I tried everything except killing him, I will let him off with a warning, I know this is bad but I am not turning into a crazy, angered, sociopath, because of him. if he wants to be crazy, he is going to jail I hope, because I am never f*ing visiting him, My parents don’t take his shit but they take away mine, I am about to stand up for myself if he does attack me.

  • CGB

    April 17th, 2023 at 11:34 AM

    Sometimes it goes deeper than simply having a sibling who is a bully. Sometimes a parent will encourage one sibling to bully another. When I was growing up, I had a younger sibling who liked to pick fights. My dad knew this, and the ritual was always the same. He would stand there watching her antagonize me, and do nothing. when it finally got so bad I’d yell “stop it”, he’d yell “BOTH OF YOU stop it”. I would try over and over again to make him understand that she was being a bully, but he would always shoot back “it takes two to tango”. finally, I got so tired of that cliche that I said, “So what? It only takes one to disco”. He never pulled the “it takes two to tango” routine again.

  • NEN

    August 5th, 2023 at 10:09 AM

    I’m the youngest in the family, my older sister has been constantly gaslighting me and occasionally gets physical. Whenever I call out my sister about her disgusting behavior she plays dumb and mocks me, she has told me that she wishes for me to get raped, it was utterly shocking that I would hear it come out of her, especially that she is my sister and a woman. My mother is also of no help, whenever I tried to tell her about the constant bullying and unfairness of treatment, my mother would get mad at me instead and insult me and my intelligence. It really hurts to hear my mother insult me this way when I tried my very best and became a straight honor student from junior-senior high school to better myself and make her proud and have something to brag to her colleagues or relatives. I am very aware of my perception of things and I can confidently say that I am a good daughter and most parents would wish or even beg to have an understanding and sensitive daughter like me. I don’t participate in drugs, alcohol, cigar/vape. I am also very attentive to my mother compared to my sister. I always make sure to not stress or help my mother distress when she is tired. I just cannot fathom why my mother would not do anything to help or protect me from my sister, defending myself from my sister’s constant mockery is not enough. I didn’t even get to enjoy being a child with a loving mother. I could feel my self tear up when someone other than my mother shows motherly affection. It always made me think why do I get this treatment when I did what I could for my mother while my sister doesn’t do anything and even disrespect our mother? I am thinking that when I stabilize my self after graduating I’m going to abandon my family, I’ll save up enough money and just pay my mom for raising me but I won’t be having her in my life anymore. We may have some good memories but it can be easily over-shadowed by all mockery they did to me. I’ve become suicidal at one-point and pointed my father’s gun to my head, it was fully loaded but what kept me alive was my PRIDE. I don’t deserve this garbage treatment, my family has totally abuse my understanding nature. I am starting college in August 22, far away from my mother and my disgusting sister who puts up a front to strangers then shows her true colors to me. I can finally have a break and pray how my mother will now experience my sister’s laziness when I’m gone and focus more on my studies.

  • Claire

    March 4th, 2024 at 10:49 AM

    I’m the middle of 12 kids…yes 12 . I’m #7. My mother did not really like any of us. She had kids because that is what the 1950’s woman did. Had as many kids as they could.. We had torn , old clothes, no winter coats, rotten teeth. There are bullies in my family–two old sisters. My mother used them as ‘mini-mom’s’ . They are over 70 now, and still keeping score. They are MEAN and SELFISH.

  • Claire

    March 4th, 2024 at 10:52 AM

    CGB: This. Same with my mother. She set us up to fight . She enjoyed it. It made her feel better about herself when her kids suffered is some fashion. She always picked sides with the my two bullying sisters, too. She was scared of them. And still is!

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