Emotional Abuse Definition on Your Site

by Anni
(Mankato, Minnesota, USA)

I noticed the definition of emotional abuse on your site is limited to an adult abusing a child. I came to your site while researching emotional abuse because one of my children is being abused by his older brother. Adults are not the only ones who can inflict this type of devastating treatment upon a child within the family unit.

Reply from Darlene: Anni, while anyone of any age can inflict some type of emotional abuse onto another, the definition of emotional abuse on my site refers to child abuse as it would be accepted in law. What you are referring to can be called "sibling abuse" or defined even further as "bullying" or "harassment," depending on the age of the children involved and the difference in their ages.
If the older brother is of the age of majority, then emotional child abuse would apply.

But labels don't help either of these boys...

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Apr 26, 2008
Sibling abuse...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I'm very sorry to learn that you are dealing with such a difficult situation within your family. When an older sibling is mistreating a younger more vulnerable one, the entire family is dealing with it.

I recommend family counselling, Anni. It may be necessary to arrange for individual counselling for each of the boys: The older one, in order to determine why he feels the need to bully, and to help him find appropriate outlets for his anger; the younger, in order to help him with the emotional residue of having been bullied. But the whole family needs help with what is going on here.

I urge you to contact Child Help at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) in order to talk to someone. They are staffed 24/7 with professionally trained counsellors who will listen to you as a parent. They can also help you with options.

I wish you and your family all the best, Anni.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Apr 28, 2008
Sibling abuse
by: Hayley

Hi Anni. I read your post about your older son making things tough for your younger son. That must be hard to stomach. Unfortunately my brother set about hurting me in that way after he was allowed "home" following my reluctantly dropping a case against him. My dad witnessed most of what happened but it was always me that suffered. My brother seemed to be the golden boy, and even now I am sometimes rather sarcastic and scathing about him. I am with Darlene on this one, it could be more like bullying/harassment either way it must be upsetting for your youngest to deal with, and for you to see happening. I don't know how best to advise you on this one as I am not a parent (only to 12/13 teddy bears if that counts). However I have a gorgeous three year old niece who I adore and would do anything for - including cause serious injury to anyone I caught even looking at that little girl in the wrong way provided they weren't smaller than myself.

I suppose you could talk to the boys seperately and find out what is happening from them both and take action from there. Other than that I really don't know.

Good luck

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