My Brother The Verbal Abuser

by Sadsituation

My brother is a very angry person who we have asked to get help for his anger issues for years...reading up I believe he has a lot of signs of a sociopath also.

He is in his 40's and we have been dealing with his mean behavior and mood swings and verbal abuse for years, usually taking it to avoid a "blow up". Our mother who is now in her 70's pretty much takes most of the abuse with constant put down's and name calling and being made fun of. She takes it because he has a 3 year old and a 3 month old who she loves dearly and when the mood strikes him he will not let her see them.

For all of us to see them it is by appointment only and I live a half mile from him. He is like a roller coaster ride and we never know what will set him off or if he does not return calls/texts to see them suddenly we usually have no idea why or what he is upset about. He is a control freak and his wife does everything he asks and even asks permission if she may eat and on what she can give their 3 year old. I believe she does this also to avoid a blow up. She is like a robot.

My nieces' first birthday party they only invited Grandparents, that was their explanation of why the aunts uncles and cousins weren't invited, then the 2nd birthday they did the same and the last one he decided to invite me but not her other uncles on his wife's side. No one understands what his logic is only that he likes to hurt people or be mean and it gives him some sort of joy? He goes through friends and becomes best friends and is so very wonderful to them and all of a sudden they will be unwelcome and we never see them again.

I have shut him out of my life many times due to his mouth and behavior and the severity of his cruelty but usually he will weasel his way in through a sob story or family emergency etc. Then it will be magical and wonderful (yet I keep my distance best I can) and then the cycle will continue and he'll turn ugly and blow up or do odd angry things.

He recently asked us to go on a camp out and was in control of all the food and if he doesn't he will cut down make fun or say nasty comments on others. On this recent camp out it began raining heavily and we suggested packing up and going out to have breakfast (it was our day to leave anyhow) and he insisted on cooking and won't let anyone help then when you ask to help or get something he snaps and will say things like "I will get the lettuce in a second but I am REALLY busy right now cooking for everyone." When I offer to get it myself and that to let others help he won't answer. He enjoys making people feel bad or making people feel that he is going out of his way and they are so terrible for not helping yet he won't allow anyone to help.

He is like a time bomb waiting to explode!

On the rainy morning we all did as he instructed and ate in the rain and then things again went south. He began complaining then putting food items away. He threw a box of cookies I had bought for his daughter in the fire pit without saying a word. I looked at him in disbelief and asked why he did that and he said it wasn't his and I shouldn't leave my things next to him even though we shared the campground food made absolutely no sense at all. Then from there it went downhill fast.

I have become so hardened by his cruel nasty behavior that I have no feelings for him in the sense that I don't care if he is in my life or not, whereas before I didn't want that. It seems that the times that I experience without him in my life are calm and peaceful and when he is in it it is STRESS, put downs, never anything nice. It is hard to see my mother take the verbal abuse. I wish she would be strong and get out of that situation but she loves her grandkids and he knows he has that control over her.

I read up and try to understand what he is and why he does these things...I almost feel as though it brings him some sort of joy to be mean to people.

My mom got up one morning and he just put coffee on and she said good morning to him and that it smelled good and his reply was "just shut up already mom." So she sits there like a zombie and doesn't say anything...nobody was around when he said this, she had told me later. It's a sick situation. He will never apologize for his horrible behavior or actions, he has never sat and talked about his feelings or how to resolve things. I have asked him to seek help and told him he has anger issues among other things when he wanted back into my life and he always say's he will but has yet to do so.

I plan to keep him out of my life and feel it is the only way. He is toxic...I don't know what else to do.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. You have made it very clear just how difficult it is for your family to deal with your brother. That is high stress, and it makes perfect sense that you would want him out of your life.

First, I'll offer some perspective, then some possible courses of action.

One thing to consider, which you may have already thought of, is that the family's efforts to "avoid a blowup" sends a message to your brother that his behavior is warranted and effective. When others cater to his needs, tip-toe around him and try to keep from upsetting him, he gets two messages: one is that he's a monster that everyone is afraid of, and the other message he gets is that he is correct in all of his judgments, criticisms and anger toward the family.

In other words, trying to avoid a blowup just won't work--as you've probably noticed.

The best thing that could happen is if the entire family refused to be around him when he acts that way. I know that won't happen, and if it did it would mean the family would be deprived of contact with his children. It still would be good, however, because it would send a very clear message that his behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Currently, he's getting the message that his behavior is acceptable, from everyone but you.

Re. a course of action. Shift your focus from your brother to yourself. Do not allow his behavior to occupy your attention any more than absolutely necessary. Focus on what you love about yourself and everyone around you. The positive journaling exercise on this page will help you with that.

Every time you think of your brother, choose to see him at his best, and getting better. This is your refusal to let his bad behavior into your own mind, and to hold out the possibility of change. It will probably be easier to do this if you're not around him much or at all. That's fine. This is for you, not for him.

Create a fabulous life for yourself, and focus only on what you choose to be part of your reality.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

P.S. If you found this to be helpful, please consider making a donation to this site to support our mission.

Comments for My Brother The Verbal Abuser

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Dec 07, 2014
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for your comments about my story/situation. It's really nice to read there are also others who are in the same situation.

I am a forgiving person and have forgiven him many times for hurtful behavior and words. I think I'm just done.

I do love him and know deep down he is a good person and believe it or not very sensitive but his anger takes over and all that goes away.

I have many times tried to speak with him about seeking help for his anger and also let him know that "I" know that "I" am not right and he is wrong and that's not what it's about, but it is his behavior and how he snaps and is so cruel and I would be happy to speak with someone to try and make things better so he doesn't feel attacked. I've tried many approaches with him and I was really hopeful that would work. He basically (when he's wanting to see me and my family or decides he wants us back in his life again) agrees, and never follows through. He will promise he will get help and discuss the situation and that never happens.

It's been years now since I cut him out of my life and there have been a couple of situations when we had to be in the same room due to our mother being sick and one was recently. He will be cordial and cold but that's ok with me. I still am good with my choice to keep my distance with him even though it still makes me very sad especially when I see "normal" brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles with their kids and wish I had that.

He is still (according to my mother) the same controlling, angry, verbal abuser he was before so nothing has changed there. My mom tells me he can be very verbally abusive to his wife now where he wasn't before so maybe because his world is getting smaller and smaller, so she get's it now. I'm sure she walks on egg shells around him also and lives by his mood of the hour which is sad but that's her choice.

Thank you all for your comments, I so appreciate them!

Dec 05, 2014
Find The Distance From Which You Can Love Him
by: Dr. DeFoore

The point of all relationships is love. It's hard for you to feel love toward your brother when he is verbally abusive, which is totally understandable.

I encourage you to back away, do not criticize him, make suggestions, or try to change him in any way. Create a distance (in terms of contact, time together, frequency) that allows you to accept him and love him as he is.

He will either change, or he won't. He definitely will not change because someone else wants him to -- this is human nature. I elaborate on this in my Happy Relationships article.

I hope this helps,

Dr. DeFoore

Dec 05, 2014
I Want To Improve This -- How?
by: Me too!

Hi, I'm in a similar position with my older brother. I neither have nor wish to have a relationship with this guy due to his aggressive, controlling behavior.

He goes cold to hot in an instant. He has a problem with strong women who stand up for themselves - like me and my older sister - so he has always bullied or snapped at us. My younger sister was always his favorite and he never bullied her. Now I realize why - she kept her head down.

His ex-wife dumped him due to his verbal abuse. Now he has another partner who (like his ex) is quiet, sweet, tolerant, and has a limited support network (an only child, parents who live out of town). I am just waiting for him to begin abusing her. At the moment he is using this kind of controlling language - "I don't want you to put on weight; you're perfect the way you are." I pointed out that this sentiment was sexist and disrespectful, but he and my parents told me I was the one with the problem.

He wonders why his three kids fight, lie and say nasty things to each other. He does not seem to comprehend that it is learned behavior. I worry about them because they deserve a father who shows them love and positivity - not the constant negative language and blame that they receive.

In short, his behavior makes me feel ashamed, even though I know I am not particularly responsible for it.

Feb 25, 2014
Bully brother
by: Anonymous

I also have a bully brother. He bullied my mother for years until she died and now he is starting on me. He would get in my mother's face and scream at her until she was shaking all over. No one including his girlfriend, and my older brother and his girlfriend would ever tell him to stop. They are all scared of him, even the neighbors. He tells me that my kids are going to die and that I am not allowed on my property. He used to tell my mom that he would kill me if I came to her house. It is a horrible feeling to be bullied. I believe the only way to stop him is to take away his freedom. He is a very sick individual. I have help now and he will have to stop or he will be in serious trouble.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Good for you for finding a way to protect yourself. I'm glad you found help. No one should have to submit to this kind of treatment.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Jan 13, 2013
Thank you
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your comments and replies. It is helpful to know that I am not alone. I wrote this story 3 year's ago and sadly nothing has changed. I am happily going on with life as an "only child"...I have not had any communication with him still. I miss my niece and nephew terribly and it breaks my heart it has to be this way but it is the only way.

To see them I would have to deal with him and be sucked into his world again...and it's always the same. There is a "Honeymoon" period in which he is soooooo sweet and nice and as time goes on he as he always does explodes or says something horribly cruel and hurtful in an angry outburst.

My mother still chooses to deal with him to see the kids and she tells me that he is the same if not worse than he was before. She says that she tries to keep her visits short to avoid a situation.

He is pretty much the same sick schmuck he mother is staying with me recovering from a broken leg and knee replacement and he was not there for her surgery, did not go to visit her in the hospital (she was there 2.5 weeks) ..he did go see her when she was in the rehab center twice. It hurts her because she is so good to them and thoughtful and generous. In turn it hurts me. But it is the way it is and will probably never change.

My dream is that my mother and his wife get fed up also and we all do some sort of an intervention...that is probably the only way he will take a look at himself and actually do something.

But I am happy and peaceful in my life without him! No tension, no hurting, no crying, no stress, no walking on eggshell's around is good!

Jan 10, 2013
I Have a Monster Brother Too!!
by: Anonymous

Thank you for this very insightful account of angry siblings and how parents allow and instill these behaviors.

Sep 04, 2011
by: Anonymous

Thank you for the story and response.

I felt better when I read this. It made me feel like I'm not the only one putting up with a monster.

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