How do I Deal with My Abusive Family Relationship?

#WisdomHour with Katie Kalin kinesiologist as she surrogate muscle tests for the following question:

My brother & I haven’t spoken in around three years, he still lives at home with my parents.

Anytime I go to visit, he is there. Everyone (including my parents) are weary about how they speak to him as he will explode with anger if spoken to or asked a question that he doesn’t like the sound of.

Recently, he was physically abusive toward me when I visited after I had asked a question in front of my mother, his girlfriend and my daughter. My mother will always have an excuse for why he acted a certain way, it’s always someone else’s fault why he reacts the way he does.

My father knows my brother is a loose cannon but he has said he feels he doesn’t know what to do as he is now 24. He also doesn’t want to affect the relationship he has with my mother by stating his feelings.

I would like to not be in my brother’s presence, my daughter loves her family and wishes only to have everyone together. I want her to feel safe and to have memories of a happy childhood. I feel he is a bad role model for my daughter. I’m not sure what to do or how to handle the situation?

If it was down to just my feelings, I wouldn’t visit or have any association with my brother again. How do I deal with my abusive family relationship?


His outbursts aren’t really anything to do with you and he doesn’t know how to control them. He gets angry very easily because he gets confused between his past which he has not processed, but he doesn’t understand or experience it this way.

Instead he experiences the effect of his past as general annoyance and anger to anything which makes him feel worried about things that he can’t express. He gets angry because when you say something that is clear and truthful. He engages in anything to block this out because, from his child’s point of view, that is his inner child, he can’t go there.

And the reason he can’t got there is because he was placed in a situation at school where he was a real victim through bullying and he now gets very angry whenever he perceives that he is being attacked.

Of course you are not trying to attack him but that is his inner child’s perception. Because the inner child experienced such devastating bullying your brother got a defensive attitude as he got older and he also practiced what he had been taught about how to treat others.

In other words he absorbed this way of treating others because he had no resources to give the bullies a fright by turning their horrible words and nasty jibes back on them. In other words returning the hurtful comments back to where they were originating from.

Because he couldn’t do this he absorbed this way of acting when under attack. And he got pressure taken off him by deflecting things onto other people. He learned how to do this by experiencing this form of deflection from other experiences. He learned others would get away with things if they could deflect the pressure or the blame.

He learned how to turn a practical statement or question into a form of attack and turn it back onto the person who asks the original question or makes the statement.

You won’t get him to change this tactic until he learns that it doesn’t work anymore and the way he will learn this is by your reaction to it.

When this upsets you and you get angry back at him and you think he is a horrible person and that he doesn’t deserve you as a sister and all of those negative thoughts that are directed towards him, you play into his hands believe it or not.

Of course he doesn’t understand any of this complexity but soon you will and you will understand why your reaction is better to change so that you help him change his way of reacting.

The thing to do when you are around him and he reacts in a nasty or an aggressive manner is to practice a new response.

He is still looking for a place of comfort and proof that you care about him even though he won’t reciprocate this to you, and he doesn’t understand it. He expresses this great pain he has inside that is stuck from when he was a small child. He was bullied from 5 to 10 years old at school and he won’t ever admit to this because he doesn’t actually consciously feel any of those feelings of pain and victimisation.

This is because they were traumatic for him, and he has suppressed them completely. Because they are completely repressed, they affect him in the way that we have described earlier.

This general strategy he has of practically turning everything around onto the other person is not a conscious way that he prefers to operate. It is a deep RE-ACTION, Note it is a RE_ACTION and not a RE-sponse.

Think of a reaction as something that is not conscious and is created through a non-conscious response, or a trigger to something that is painful. Whereas to have a response is to respond from a place of consciousness and of conscience and this is greatly different from a reaction.

A response allows the person to hear things in the now without all of that old baggage attached. It allows the person to think clearly about what they are hearing and choose an appropriate response. This is of course is still done within milliseconds and won’t always be pleasant! But there is a major difference between an unconscious reaction and a conscious response.

Know that your brother is unconsciously reacting with this complex way of trying to protect himself. Your only other way of responding to him that can make him come into the present moment and not be influenced by all of that old pain is to practice wonderful compassion for him.

Knowing what you know now, you can understand that underneath all of his bluster and aggression is an injured child, and he was badly injured. Try to recall him as a 5 yr old and when he kicks off see him as this little boy who is innocent and try to practice loving compassion towards him by promoting his good side in your mind.

You can also do this by saying something like. “I know that you are angry but I also know that you are my (little/big) brother and I love you. And I know deep down that you love me too. You get very angry but its not me that you are angry with. You are still my brother even when you are angry and this will never change.”

After you have said this simply turn around and leave. Do not stand there and wait for an answer. Do not keep looking at him. Just leave him with this message and know that it will sink in. But it may not sink in immediately, so make sure you turn and leave the house after you’ve said this.

You can be like a broken record and every time he kicks off in your presence, in any way shape or form, just use this tactic and leave.

Your brother is expressing a great need for healing and he doesn’t know this, and he doesn’t know what he needs and he doesn’t know what to do about it.

So from this point of view, he is not evil or bad. He is simply an upset child that has not been able to resolve his way of being in the world.

When you see him again you can say this straight off to him and then turn around and leave. You can get in first and leave. He needs to hear this. He needs to hear that he is loved by someone and that he is valued by someone, no matter what. He needs to learn that he is promoting log-in for further pain when he practices his normal way of engaging with you.

This also means that when he can experience a different reaction from you, he may think about changing his own reaction. This is how we can influence others. It’s like a dance and if we are waltzing but don’t like the waltz, we can change the tune and lead a new dance, and they sort of have to follow, if you get our drift.

You are in relationship with your brother whether you like it or not. He is your brother and so it is like a relationship dance with him. Anyone we are in relationship with is always like a dance and we can either lead or follow. In your case it’s better to lead.

If you allow him to kick off and then you follow with the same dance of anger and disrespect and bad thoughts toward him you are caught up in the same dance. Instead you can come in with a whole new dance and a whole new tune in your head.

And if he chooses to try and stick with the old dance, strictly leave the ballroom.

It is of great credit to you that you care about your daughter’s relationship with your family and she will appreciate that you are trying to practice a new way of engaging with your brother.

She doesn’t need to know about all of this complexity but she does need to know that you care about your brother and that you will do what you can to get him to be more willing to engage with his family in a more loving way.

Don’t try to get your brother to counselling or convince him that there is something wrong with him. This will only lead to more outbursts and denial and he won’t want to hear any of that. So don’t go there. I repeat, do not go there.

This will not help anything and certainly won’t help him. It will make him feel like you ar now saying he is crazy and this will push him further and further away from how you want him to experience you.

So practice the simple exercise instead and work on understanding his outbursts have nothing to do with you and everything to how he is expressing the pain that is stuck inside him from childhood.

If you can see the 5 year old that you loved you can easily tap into these words and feelings of kindness and compassion for him. When others are angry we need to accept their anger but this does not mean that we place ourselves in a world that gets dangerous through pushing more and more buttons.

When you think about your brother find something, anything that you like about him and focus on that when you think about him, and allow any feelings of sadness and grief to come up because deep down you love your brother and deep down he loves you immensely.

It is within family relationships that the most dysfunctional behaviour is greeted with either equal and prideful anger or with compassion and kindness.

Often people don’t show their shadow side outside of family and so within families there is a lot that is expressed that is only expressed when a person feels safe.

So once again notice that the fact he can be like this with you tells you that at some level he feels safe with you. We are not saying that you should stay around a person who is abusive or violent. We repeat: We are not advising you to stay around a person who is abusive or violent.

But we are suggesting that you get in first, you say your piece and then you get out before any of that happens. This could be the start of unlocking a part of your brother which allows him to become more self-aware and more able to see that it is a conflict inside himself that he is fighting and not a conflict with his family.

You know enough about great pain to understand that your brother’s pain is indeed great.

A note from Kate: Its a tough one but there are a lot of people experiencing this in their family home. A family member seems to be really off the planet with crazy reactions.

People at home will experience them as sort of crazy. But its vital to start understanding in families that usually there’s something that has got stuck there.

And the person has got no idea of it, they are not aware of it, they don’t know how to deal with it. It’s driving them and anything that comes along and pushes those buttons. It can be like a volcano going off.

Do protect yourself. Don’t stand in there where you are likely to be pushed or anything like that. Don’t hang around waiting for abusive replies. Get in and say your piece if you are going to try this.

This is your higher self and higher wisdom and your individual God particle all hooked up to the big God so its usually right for you because its coming from you.

But only you know if its something that you want to try or not. Maybe you’ll need time to think about all of this. Maybe you’ll need to listen to this a few times to really understand it. Once you get where this is coming from you will be more able to feel some compassion for him as you know the truth of what’s going on.

And the truth is your brother isn’t a really horrible person. He is carrying stuff and he is kind of mixed up.

Abusive family relationships are very challenging to deal with. You still have the choice to disengage completely, or you may like to try this out and see what happens. Good luck with it.

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