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Can someone be abusive without knowing?

Open Discussions About Child Abuse

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Can someone be abusive without knowing?

Postby Roseredpinball » Sat Jan 02, 2021 8:10 pm

I believe it is possible, but what do the rest of you think? Often the things I read about abuse is that it is intentional, maybe even premeditated. And while I definitely agree that there are a lot of abusers that know what they are doing and do it on purpose to control others, I also think there are many abusers who aren't aware that what they are doing is considered abuse. Maybe they do know, consciously or subconsciously, that what they are doing is wrong. But do always know that it is abuse?

I was abused by my older brother. I know it's not as common (or at least not as often reported) and sadly there is somewhat of a stigma surrounding it. People think that you can't be abused by your siblings, that it's just "sibling rivalry", but that's not true. In my case, I was abused by my older brother. Of particular note is that he is a good 14 or so years older than me. For perspective, when I turned 4 he was 18. He always had anger issues, I don't know why. Our parents were good parents, I think. As good as anybody else's parents, I guess. I would say maybe even better. My dad did have some anger issues, unfortunately, and perhaps that is where my brother got it from. I don't think he often turned his anger on my brothers, and for as long as I can remember he has almost never gotten mad at me. But he did get mad at his coworkers and other people, and in that way he may have been a somewhat bad role model, as much as it pains me to admit.

I digress. My brother had anger issues, and was very controlling. I don't think he was purposely trying to be abusive, I think in his own twisted mind he thought he was helping. Those times when he spanked me or punished me, I think he thought he was "disciplining" me. And his little, obnoxious rules that made me feel like I was walking on eggshells around him at times were meant to make me a better person. Sometimes, though, I think he knew what he was doing. Even if he didn't think of it as abuse, I like to think that a part of him realized that what he was doing was wrong. His "discipline" sometimes went too far. He let his anger dictate his actions. Sometimes I think he forgot the difference between "discipline" and vindictiveness, and would punish me too harshly. He could also be rather possessive of his things and his bedroom. He hated being interrupted, even though he had a habit of monologuing and going on and on, to the point where I sometimes forgot what it was I wanted to say. He was also somewhat aloof, for reasons I'll never comprehend. He seemed to somewhat reject my affection and was impossible to please. Praise came sparingly, and when he did praise me I felt like a million bucks.

All in all, what he did was wrong, and I will be forever scarred by my older brother's abuse. I do not condone his behavior, whether he knew it was wrong or not. I will never fully forgive him for what he did. Even so, I don't think he was purposely trying to abuse me. At the very least, I don't think he knew what he was doing was abuse. He let his anger control him, and then tried to justify it by claiming that he was "disciplining" me, trying to help me grow into a mature, well-rounded adult. Like I said, maybe in his own twisted mind he believed it. Maybe he truly did think that his abuse was a form of "tough love". But I also think part of him realized, too, that what he did was wrong.

TL;DR: What do you all think? Do you think an abuser can be abusive without really knowing? Or do you think that abusers always know exactly what they're doing and that it's premeditated? Please keep it respectful, although I suppose I needn't say that. Also, regardless of your opinion, please do not tell me that I am somehow in denial about my abuse. Like I said, I know full well I was abused and will never fully forgive my brother for what he's done. My saying that he may not have known he was abusing me is in no way an excuse for what he did.
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Re: Can someone be abusive without knowing?

Postby Terry E. » Sun Jan 03, 2021 4:01 am

Yes, someone can be abusive without knowing. The most common example is when a parent who was abused uses that behaviour as a template for how they treat their own child.

In your case I think the age gap was significant and possibly your parents were not as involved as the could/should have bee.

Pity as siblings should support each other.
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Re: Can someone be abusive without knowing?

Postby jaus tail » Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:00 am

Yes. I used to think sarcasm is harmless and would often pass sarcastic remarks. i realize this now that it can be hurtful even if the intention is not to hurt the other person.
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Re: Can someone be abusive without knowing?

Postby andyandy » Tue Jan 26, 2021 11:53 pm

I think they know. I spent a lot of time thinking about how much my abuser knew. And I think that for multiple reasons they can never be forthright about taking responsibility and acknowledging hurt.
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