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Abused by my brother

My brother hits and verbally abuses me. I don’t know if I should tell anyone. When he hits me, he says it’s a joke. I can’t tell my parents because if he were to find out, he would hurt me. Should I tell someone or what?


Dear Want My Brother Back,
Hitting is completely unacceptable, and hormones are no excuse. Some teen boys don’t realize how strong they are and that their punches hurt. Speak up rather than live in fear. Confide in a trusted adult—an aunt, a teacher, a clergyperson—who can help you talk to your parents. Counseling would help too. When you and your brother are getting along, tell him you miss his nice side and that if he hits you anymore, you’re prepared to tell someone. Don’t shout this as a threat; state it as a fact. As for verbal abuse, name-calling is fairly common between sibs and goes both ways, so be sure you’re not fueling his fire. Next time he’s mean, don’t hurl insults back. If he’s screaming because you borrowed his cell phone, instead of saying, "Well, you were stupid to leave it out," say, "Next time I won’t," or "I see your point," since these are argument-enders. Avoid pushing his buttons, and ask your parents to get a lock for your door since the thing to do when someone is unreasonably angry is to get out of harm’s way. There’s a line between being a jerky brother and a scary one, so please know that you can—and should—get help when you need it.


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BY CAROL WESTON ON 5/2/2008 9:05:00 AM


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