11-21-2019 08:42 AM - last edited on 11-21-2019 03:12 PM by Claire-RO
First things first, I want to get this out of the way: I am not a parent. I am a 20 year old woman asking this question on behalf of my mother.
My younger brother is 14 years old. He has always been headstrong and rather difficult to handle from the time he was a toddler. In 2011 (I was 12 and he was 6 at the time), our parents separated and went through a very lengthy and sometimes hostile court case, which my mother always tried to keep away from us. Neither myself or my brother have contact with our father anymore (our own respective decisions).
In recent years, my brother's behaviour has progressed from being difficult to outright abusive. It began by him, about age 10, habitually telling my mother she was stupid and lazy, that she did nothing for him and was too selfish to provide properly for him. He told her that she was useless because she doesn't drive, and that she didn't make enough money and her job wasn't good enough. He is constantly demanding to know what my mother earns (she refuses to tell him).
For the past two years, this aggression and abuse has manifested itself in more physical forms. He is now constantly punching doors and walls, throwing TV remotes (among other things), kicking walls. He says things like "Just shut your mouth! Seriously, just shut the F up!" at my mother and me whenever we try to reason with him, and has in more recent months begun to threaten violence: "I swear I'll smash your face in!" "Careful or I'll drag you to the F-ing ground!".
A week ago, he grabbed my hand and tried to pry my phone from my hand when I threatened to audio-record one of his outbursts, and ended up bruising my wrist.
Numerous counsellors, both from his school and private, have fallen through because they have told my mother "it's up to him", or "it's his decision to come see me". This has become increasingly frustrating because he is quite happy to go without help so long as he is able to continue his habits of aggressive and intimidating behaviour. In fact, he has told us on more than one occasion that it's our fault that he acts this way and that we deserve this treatment from him.
I, myself, did not have a particularly negative relationship with my brother as we were growing up, but it has become toxic now that I try to stand up to him more often when he is being cruel to our mother. I have begged her several times to get the police involved (even if it's just a community warden to explain to him that his behaviour is unacceptable), or start the process of seeking some kind of residential treatment programme, as having him live in the house is making the home environment so unbearable. I have also looked into moving out myself but have run into financial difficulties as well as the dilemma as to whether or not it would be responsible to leave my mother alone in the house with someone so hostile toward her.
I am at the end of my rope, and honestly don't know where to turn. My mother is receiving so much abuse but is reluctant to follow through on any serious consequences (beyond restricting his access to play station, wifi, etc. although this never lasts for long) as she understandably wants to protect her son above all and feels as though getting outside authorities involved means she has failed as a parent. She is a single parent and has done nothing but give all the love and provisions any child would want to both my brother and me. Although I'm aware that no parent is perfect, and the separation between her and my father wasnt in the least bit amicable, my mother has done nothing to warrant this kind of abuse from my brother, and I'm getting increasingly frustrated with the situation at hand. I try to talk to her and show her how things have gotten so out of hand, but she doesn't want to admit to the severity of our situation.
Please help, any kind of advice is more than welcome!
11-21-2019 03:46 PM
This sounds like a really difficult situation for your whole family, and you are right that yourself and your mum don't deserve to be abused. From what you have said you are really worried about your mum and your brother as he is not getting the help that he needs. It is so hard being a single parent and your mum sounds so resilient.
I know you spoke about wanting your mum to call the police and if you are worried about everyone's safety that makes total sense, it is understandable that your mum might be hesitant about doing that for fear of the repercussion for your brother. It sounds like both you and your mum are really trying to do all that you can to be there for your brother.
I know you spoke about neither of you have contact with your dad anymore, I was wondering what other supports your family has? Is there someone that you brother really trusts that might be able to talk to him or spend sometime with him?
1800Respect is an Australian service that provides confidential information, counselling and support that you may find helpful.
It is really brave to share what is happening for your family, we are here to listen
11-30-2019 09:42 AM
My family experienced a similar type of behaviour at the same age with my son. It has been a long and difficult experience. I have a few suggestions that may help.
1. You and your mothers safety, both physical and mental needs to come first.
Try to get your mum to seek some support. Reach Out has a great online counselling program available for free. It will provide her and you with strategies to help when your brother is abusive. That is a start.
No one, (including any family member) should have to tolerate the abuse you have described. Any tolerance or attempt to appease the perpetrator only seems to embolden them. It is not okay.
2. Find out what the rules are where you live with respect to Restraining orders.
For example in Western Australia there is a family violence restraining order available.
I would start with a visit to the local police or one of your local community support group. We found the police to be very supportive and understanding. They are at the front line dealing with these issues all the time.
3. Ensure you start by looking after yourself. This way, you can best help your mum. The support services in this forum are a great start.
03-15-2020 10:53 AM
Thank you to those who replied, your support and advice is very much appreciated!
An update on the situation:
Whereas, in my previous post, my brother (still aged 14) was threatening vague violence and was quite general with his abusive language, the threats and physical aggression has escalated to more graphic and unsettling levels.
Before, my brother was simply pounding his fists against walls and doors and throwing smaller, lighter objects. Now...
- He has stopped attending school almost altogether, and has missed major exams.
- He has since put a hole through his bedroom door by beating it with a metal pole from a set of weights he received as a christmas present from my mother.
- He has begun picking up the kitchen chairs and aiming to throw them at either my mother or myself when he is in a rage (he usually misses and ends up severely damaging the kitchen wall instead of managing to actually hit one of us).
- He storms out of the house in the middle of the night (this was worrying at first but has recently become routine).
- In anger, he throws the actual 10kg weights from the aforementioned weight set down the stairs. We used to have a small accent table at the bottom of the stairs beside the front door. This has been removed after he smashed several family photographs, a large mirror hung on the wall, smaller ornaments and our broadband modem by throwing the weights.
- My mother recently found evidence of self-harm on his phone.
- Arguably most disturbing of all, we recently found that he had hidden a Chef's Knife from my mother's kitchen set behind the gas boiler in our kitchen. This has raised the most alarm from me as anything he may have been using as 'self harm' has only been found hidden in his bedroom. The fact that he had hidden this in a family room in the house has me frightened that he may have been keeping it there to cause serious harm to my mother or me.
In my last post, we had only been dealing with counsellors who had been giving my brother the choice whether to continue with them or not. Since then:
- The police have been called to the house on two seperate evenings. Once when my brother woke my mother up at 2am by pulling the blankets and sheets from her bed, throwing them down the stairs and shaking her by the shoulders, demanding for his phone (which had been confiscated due to his behaviour earlier that day). The other time was only last week, when he returned home after storming out at nighttime and took a knife from the kitchen, threatened to self harm with it and would point it at anyone who came into the kitchen to try and persuade him to calm down.
- Paramedics have been called to the house on two separate occasions. The first was around 1am on the 24th of december (I remember specifically since it was Christmas Eve), when he had worked himself into such a state of anger and tension that he had to be brought into hospital. The doctors didn't admit him and only spoke to him briefly in the emergency room. The second was the aforementioned incident from last week with the police. He was, again, not admitted but released from the emergency room.
- Our governing child and family agency TUSLA (We live in Ireland, and I only realised that this site was Australian after reading the responses. Hopefully this isn't too big an issue, we have no equivalent forum for Irish families as far as I know) have stepped in. This group usually intervene when prompted by a school or third-party observer that a child may be in a dangerous situation. Instead, my mother called them into the home of her own accord as we have had little to no support from private counsellors or the counselling service provided by my brother's school. They have been good to have around as they are legally obliged to work with families until the matter is resolved, and cannot wash their hands of the case when they run into difficulties as the other counsellors were so quick to do. On the other end, as they are a public body that must operate using government legislation, actions taken have long waiting lists, so it's a verrrrrry slow process to see anything done.
- Our father, who I had mentioned in the previous post as having not been in contact with my brother or me in recent years, has since been contacted with the purpose of having my brother go to live with him (This was initiated by my brother, who expressed an interest in moving). Both he and my brother told TUSLA social workers that they were willing to go ahead with this move. However, whenever the option is put to my brother, he refuses to go. And whenever there is an issue at home with my brother's behaviour (such as the police calling to the house, or my brother ending up in the emergency room), my father makes it clear that he wants no involvement and uses the excuse that he has other children in his new relationship that he must look after. This has been unendingly frustrating becauses my father is continuing to feign co-operation with TUSLA, thus slowing down their responses to any serious issues in the house as they are being led to believe that we now have another avenue of support.
As you can most likely tell, the situation at home has escalated and I am ever increasingly worried that it is going to end up with serious injury. As horrible as it may sound, I'm finding it difficult to remain concerned for my brother's mental wellbeing as my priority now is shifting to simply wanting him to be removed from the family home by any means, even if it means having him admitted to state care--at least there's a chance that he will be placed with carers who are better equipped to handle him.
03-15-2020 04:00 PM
I am so saddened to hear that things have escalated in your home. I can only imagine how stressed and scared you must be at the moment.
It sounds like the thing that you've been looking for most are professional supports for your family, so I've done some research and linked them below.
Non-Violent Resistance is an Irish not for profit that focuses on child to parent abuse, and providing information to support families going through similar issues.
Responding to Child to Parent Violence is a multi-agency research project led by the University of Brighton. The project team consists of organisations in the UK, Bulgaria, Ireland, Spain and Sweden, brought together to study the emerging problem of abuse perpetrated by children on their parents and carers.
I hope these help!