Most siblings fight with each other all through childhood, but there’s a line between sibling fights and full-blown bullying. Sometimes parents can’t tell the difference and shrug the bullying off, mistaking it to be petty sibling teasing. However, those who grew up with a bully brother or sister know that what they experienced was not just silly fights. The experience has lasting effects, such as:
1. Not knowing your personal boundaries
You’re so used to someone invading your space that you haven’t set up clearly marked boundaries. People can usually walk all over you because you don’t know when to stop them.
2. Having major trust issues
Your diary was read, your weaknesses were exploited and your trust was shattered at every opportunity. It makes you distrustful of those who try and come close to you.
3. Taking mean-spirited jokes as norm
Most of us can take a joke, but the sibling-bullying survivor is so used to being made fun of that they don’t think there’s anything wrong with friends or colleagues making nasty jokes about them.
4. Ignoring minor physical attacks
You let people punch and hit you harder than just playful fighting because that’s the kind of ‘intimacy’ that you grew up with. Even if you don’t like it, you don’t realize that it’s wrong behavior.
5. Recurring feelings of depression
Like most bullies, your sibling suffered from severe insecurities; part of cheering himself/herself up involved making you feel equally bad about yourself. Those feelings can resurface from time to time.
6. Trouble with romantic relationships
Since your bully was in an intimate relationship with you, it colored your view of all relationships. Your first romantic relationship was probably a disaster if you didn’t have any other close people in your life.
7. Disliking family get-togethers
Your attention-seeking and insecure bully did their best to make sure that you were either ignored or the butt of all jokes during family get-togethers, so they’re the last events you want to attend.
8. Being extremely sensitive
Another fallout of sibling bullying is becoming very sensitive about everyday situations, especially when you’re trying to get out of the bullying cycle. You view all statements and incidents with a wary eye.
9. Anger at your parents
As an adult it is clear to you that your parents did a poor job of protecting you. The people who should have looked out for you let your bully torture you for years. Sometimes, you can almost hate them.
10. Setting up walls
Once you actually start the process of setting up your boundaries, you almost build a fort around yourself. You’ve been badly hurt before and you’re very unwilling to put yourself through that again.
11. Giving in to substance abuse
A lot of bullying victims who don’t get help in time turn to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain. It is a way of at least mentally escaping your situation/past for as long as the high lasts.
12. One-upmanship with your bully
Even if you don’t ever mention it outright, it pleases you immensely when your sibling fails at something. You might even feel a little guilty about this but you still thrive in their failures.
13. Having trouble with being helped
Since you didn’t get help from either your parents or your sibling (the safe social structures of a child’s world), you have a hard time asking for or even accepting the help other people offer.
14. Inability to allow natural progression
At first, you feel like you can’t trust anyone but if someone does even one thing right, you’re likely to open up to them completely; sometimes, the end result of that is being hurt all over again.
15. Ignoring your successes
As you spent a majority of your life being made to feel very small, you have a tendency to not celebrate your achievements. It’s what drives you to succeed but it can also demotivate you.
16. Not knowing how to have fun
Since you’ve been made fun of so much, you have trouble letting your hair down. You can end up feeling awkward and like the odd-one-out during parties. You may need to get drunk to join the fun.
17. Having a lot of empathy
You can feel other’s pain, sadness, humiliation, etc. more than others. You identify with victims and underdogs. You might have been unable to stand up for yourself, but you stand up for them.
18. Living inside your head
You’ve created a fantasy world in your head where people are kinder, gentler, and where you’re appreciated and wanted. It’s a safe zone that you retire to when the world seems gray.
19. Wanting a perfect life
You’ve put up with a crappy situation for so long that now you want your friends, life partner, children, etc. to be perfect. This desire for perfect happiness can strain your relationships with others.
20. Keeping your bully at arm’s length
You may have learned to forgive your bully and moved on but it is hard for you to let them become too involved in your life. You’ve learned this lesson again and again in the past and it has stuck with you.