The Long-Term Effects of Bullying by a Sibling
- Being bullied by anyone can have an impact on a person's self-esteem. Being bullied by a sibling, someone who is supposed to love and care for you, can be even more hurtful. Name-calling and physical abuse can create uncertainty about a person's self-worth or well-being. For example, if a sibling constantly criticized your appearance growing up, you are likely to feel ugly and unhappy with your looks. This can lead to other problems in personal and professional relationships.
- Victims of sibling abuse and bullying may turn to drugs and alcohol as a means to cope with the negative feelings and actions in their life. Drugs and alcohol can mask the pain of bullying by a sibling or help a person cope with the feelings of inadequacy they now have as a result of repeated torment over the years. Eating disorders are another concern for people who were bullied by siblings when they were younger. Drugs, alcohol and eating disorders can give people a sense of control over their lives, since the bullying took the control away.
- People who were bullied by siblings may struggle to develop appropriate relationships with other people. People who withdrew from their family after the abuse happened might be reluctant to trust other people, fearful they too will end up being bullies. They might resent their family for allowing the abuse to happen and doing nothing to stop it -- even if they were unaware the abuse and bullying occurred. Interpersonal difficulties could also affect a person's work performance due to a lack of concentration or ability to work with others.
Cycle of Abuse
- People who have been bullied or abused tend to repeat the cycle with people who are younger or weaker than they are. People who were abused by their siblings may repeat the pattern of abuse with their own spouse or children. This becomes a dangerous cycle that can usually only be broken with the help of professional counselors. A counselor can help the person see they are angry with their sibling and the past abuse rather than with their current partner and children.