Siblings are bound to fight and argue now and then. That’s the nature of living in close proximity to a brother or sister who’s close to your age. You’re going to argue about chores, hobbies, and a plethora of other day-to-day activities.
Hopefully, you start to get along more as time goes on and you develop your interests. In the meantime, though, your relationship with your sibling could be a solid combination of love and annoyance.
In some households, fighting amongst siblings can take a dark turn. Rather than just squabbling, one sibling might start to abuse the other kids in the house. This abuse could be physical, emotional, or a combination of the two. Kids of any age should not have to worry about their safety while at home. Sibling abuse is a serious situation that should not be taken lightly.
At Sundance Canyon Academy, we work with many families trying to overcome an abusive situation at home. When one sibling is hurting the others, the adults in the household need to intervene to ensure everyone’s safety. Sometimes, the situation can be handled at home, and the abuser learns to stop their harmful behavior. Other times, more serious intervention is necessary. For more information about our intervention options, contact us today.
Talking to your parents about sibling abuse
If you are a kid experiencing sibling abuse at home, you need to talk to the adults in your life about it. In most situations, this means talking to your parents about it.
There are a few things that you can do before this conversation so that you are fully prepared.
In most situations, fights between siblings come from both sides. Both kids are mad at each other about something, and it turns into an argument. Abuse is more one-sided. Abuse happens when one sibling (usually the older, larger, or more physically able child) picks on the other child in a bullying manner. The bully tries to control the other sibling by either physically hurting them, threatening them, or making them feel emotionally unsafe.
Abuse can be physical, sexual, or emotional. Many abusers use a combination of those three methods of abuse.
Physical harm. Physical abuse can include hitting, biting, kicking, burning, tripping, using submission holds, and more. Physical abuse is anything that causes pain or takes away your ability to defend yourself.
Sexual abuse. Sexual abuse includes any form of unwanted touching, up to and including sexual interaction.
Emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is used to make you feel unloved, unwanted, or worried. Emotional abuse leaves the victim feeling like they are constantly vulnerable and like an attack could come at any moment.
Even if you are unsure whether or not your sibling’s behavior is abuse, it’s still worth talking to your parents about it.
Create time to talk to your parents
When you’re ready to talk to your parents about sibling abuse, create time for the conversation. Pick a time when your sibling won’t be around and when you can have your parents’ undivided attention.
Let them know what’s been going on, how long it’s been going on, and why you’re bringing it up. Don’t be vague; reference specific incidents. This might feel intimidating for you, but it’s worth it.
If your parents don’t know what’s going on, they won’t be able to help. Find the courage to speak up for yourself and tell them about the abuse.
How to intervene when you learn about sibling abuse
As the parent, you have a huge responsibility to intervene when you learn about sibling abuse. Your home needs to be a safe place for all of your kids, and it’s up to you to ensure that safety.
Though you might be surprised to learn about the severity of the abuse, it’s probably not a huge shock that some form of abuse is occurring. Many teens who abuse their siblings have already shown aggression in childhood.
Kids with mental health issues like ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) or RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) often have trouble controlling their emotions and maintaining positive relationships. You have probably already seen some sort of abusive or manipulative behavior from your child in the past.
Here are a few things that you can do to eliminate sibling abuse in your family:
Address it. Once you find out about the abuse, address it. The abusive sibling needs to know that you see their behavior as serious and won’t be tolerated.
Get support from the school. If your kids go to the same school, talk to their teachers and guidance counselors about what’s happening at home. Once the school’s administration knows that the kids have problems, they can step in to keep them apart at school. You won’t be able to watch them at school to stay on top of them, so get the school administration to fill the gap.
Call the police if needed. If the situation is severe enough, you might need to call the police to help. Unfortunately, there’s not always much that cops can do to fix the situation when both kids are minors. At that age, police intervention is rarely a long-term fix. However, it can help restore calm in the home for a moment if the situation has become dangerous.
Get therapeutic help. Teens who exhibit abusive behavior often have underlying mental health issues. Your abusive teen could benefit from therapeutic intervention to address the root causes of their behavior.
Consider a therapeutic boarding school if your teen son’s violent or manipulative behavior is getting out of control. He would still attend academic classes and receive high school credits, so he wouldn’t fall behind in school while he’s away. He would also receive a personalized treatment plan to address his behavior and teach him how to interact with others.
Call us at 866-640-1899 to find out how our school could help your family.