Case 099 - Family

I grew up in a bullying household and I was bullied by both my mother and my older brother.

I am 37 and endured years of bullying behaviour from both these people within my family. I can remember clearly events of bullying from my mother at the age of seven and from my brother later, particularly during adolescence. It has persisted up until the present but was particularly hurtful and intense during my teenage years and twenties. Therefore I will relate my story in the past tense.

My mother engaged in constant nit-picking, put downs, petty criticism, withholding of affection, insinuations, spleen venting, complaining and complaining about me to others, occasional silent treatment and frequent negative comparisons with other girls my own age; "why can't you be more like so and so..". To the world she presented the image of the perfect mother and hostess and I would be confused and angry when my school friends would say to me, "your mother is so nice, she's such a good person, you are so mean about her". I was frequently punished, often physically, for "being bad". Sometimes I was not aware of what I was supposed to have done and other times my older brother pointed the finger at me for "bad things" he had done and I was punished for those. Protesting only increased the punishment.

Day in day out my life at home consisted of my older brother "sledging" me; that is whispering insults and verbal abuse to me when no-one else could hear, and my mother constantly marginalizing me within the family. If I ever cried as a result of punishment I was told that I was weak and unable to control myself, could not be trusted to tell the truth and was therefore guilty and deserving of punishment. My mother frequently told me that I was undeserving both of material gifts and friendship from others. This adversely affected me in adulthood for a long time. My father suffered from high-blood pressure and had a short temper. My mother often used this to her advantage to provoke him into turning on me. If I displayed any insolence or resistance towards her (which I did often!) she would go and get my father and manipulate him into anger. I grew to become frightened of my father (especially since he doled out the physical punishments) and this process detrimentally affected my relationship with him (and other authority figures) from adolescence until his death when I was 29.

I am not a weak person. I naively never learned to back down for my own good and always stood up for myself but I was no match for my mother. She could reduce me to tears in seconds which was something I became increasingly ashamed of as I approached adulthood. I left home for good when I was 20 and went to live overseas exhausted and struggling terribly to find my feet in the adult world.

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