Alex's Answer

Am I being verbally abused

Your Question

If my older brother calls me fat and lazy then my mother joins in on the insulting is it verbal abuse?


Hi and welcome to Ask Alex,
Thank you for sharing your difficulties with us here at Ask Alex. It is important that we all have a safe space to speak freely and ask the questions about difficult things going on in your life, as you, along with all other children and young people, have the right to be supported. You have stated that “your older brother calls you fat and lazy, and then your mother joins in on insulting you.” That is terrible; we are so sorry to hear that this is happening to you. This is not the way in which you should be treated; you deserve much better than that. You have asked if this is verbal abuse.
Verbal Abuse is a type of emotional abuse. It is when a person uses their words to assault, dominate, ridicule, manipulate, and/or degrade another person, which would then negatively impact the person’s psychological health. Verbal abuse would be happening on a regular basis for a long period of time. Insults are things people say that are rude or offensive; insults may be used to get a reaction out of people.
Would your brother do this on a regular basis? Would he say these kinds of things to get you to do things for him? Would he speak to you like this out in public? Having this kind of treatment from anyone is very hard, but it makes it even harder when it’s your own family. They are the people who you would be around most and that you would like to think would look out for you and care about you. It is so important that you protect yourself and that you don’t listen to the mean words being used by your brother and mother. Do you have your own bedroom? Take yourself away the minute those types of words are spoken to you; if you have your own room, go there; if not, move into the bathroom where you no longer have to hear such hurtful words.
Have you spoken to your mother and brother about this? It is important that you let them know the effect it is having on you. Within families and especially between siblings, we can use remarks/actions to get reactions from the other person without taking into consideration their feelings. For example, a pair of brothers could have play-fought since they were infants, and now the bigger brother always catches the smaller brother in a headlock and thinks it’s okay, whereas the little brother no longer likes to do fighting and is intimidated by his older brother when he does that. If we don’t have the conversation about it, then the other person may not take the time to realize what is going on for us as we grow and how they are impacting us.
It can be helpful to have a trusted adult to help have that conversation with your brother and mother. This can be an Auntie, Uncle, Grandparent, whoever you have a good relationship with and feel comfortable with. They will help and support you in highlighting how this negative speaking is affecting you. When you have support, it will show how important this is, and your family members won’t be able to just brush it off and say things like it was just a joke or you’re too sensitive.
We just want you to know that what has been said to you is not your truth; you are much more than the nasty words your brother and mother say. Have full belief and understand that you do not have to put up with this type of treatment.
If you wish to discuss it further, you can always contact our Childline team. If you feel you would like to talk it through with our Childline team, they will listen, support, and work with you on finding the solution that works for you. You can contact them by phone on 1800 66 66 66 or through our web chat on Childline is here for you anytime, and we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is a free and confidential service.
We hope that some of the information above will help you in some way and know that you are not alone.

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