Would you take a bullet for your sibling?
Would you wield a baseball bat as a weapon to protect yourself another?
Would you use a knife for protection?
What would you do if that person threatening you was family?
While you cower with tears running down your face and your body shaking violently, your own family member threatens you and yells at you over the simple things in life.
Not changing the channel.
Defending your autistic sibling.
Not giving up the good spot on the couch.
All these seemingly trivial issues sparked outbursts from my brother that leave me traumatized to this day.
I was recently told my someone close to me to stop acting like the victim and become a survivor. When he said this, I broke down, reiterating the stories of the days where my abuser would beat me. It was never hard enough to leave bruises but I feared for my life on more than one occasion.
This started eight years ago. I had no phone to call for help. When there was a phone in reach, he would block the path. I tried to protect myself with baseball bats and knives, but he knew I was too scared to use them. He knew he was in control and always would be. He would degrade me, calling me fat and ugly (to put it nicely). My parents did nothing. They believed it was old fashioned sibling fun, but it wasn’t. They came to that realization the day my brother (mid-teens) hit my father (40s) hard enough to send him to the ground and almost to the hospital. My mom left my younger brother and I alone with this rage filled maniac as she drove my dad to his friend’s house. The friend, an EMT, told my dad he most likely had a concussion.
My brother received no punishment for his wrong-doings.
The abuse didn’t end there. This incident only increased my brother’s rage. I became increasingly anxious and depressed, always fearing for my safety and the safety of my younger brother. I starved myself and resorted to self-harming to deal with the nightmares and fears. One April night I even tried to end my life. I stopped these extreme behaviors a few years ago, realizing there was more to live for.
My boyfriend then asked why I never reported it. I couldn’t help but laugh while tears ran down my cheeks and my body trembled so violently the bed shook. During the abuse, a social worker was at my house for a different abuse situation involving the same brother. Nothing was done about that horrific situation. I learned in that moment that if you report something, nothing will get done.
I still live with the trauma to this day. It affects me as I work, attend school, and socialize. Any sudden movements or bursts of anger (generally from men) cause me to shut down internally. My anxiety will spike and throw me into an anxiety attack.
These reactions sparked my loving and caring significant other to bring up the conversation of becoming a survivor instead of playing the victim. He’s calmed me down on several occasions, holding me close until the shaking and tears subsided or giving me space when I needed to escape the room. That same day he brought it up, he sat patiently as I told my story from start to end. I had always feared speaking to him about it seriously, afraid I was going to scare him away with my past. He listened patiently as I recalled the terror filled days I experienced. That same day we sat down and spoke was the day I vowed to overcome my trauma and become a survivor.
Now, just a few weeks into my sophomore year of college, I’ve already noticed some changes in my behavior, actions, and attitude. With the never-ending support of my boyfriend and best friends, I’ve found myself acting different. They accept me for who I am, calm me down, talk me through anxiety attacks, cheer me up when I’m depressed, and love me without judging me on my past. Because of these amazing bonds and relationships, my self-confidence has sky-rocketed, I’m not as jumpy, I’ve learned to communicate my feelings better, and I’ve learned to discuss my trauma without playing the victim. Without the love and support from my boyfriend and my best friends I would not be the person I am today.
Traumatic events shape you. It’s your choice if they shape you for better or for worse. I am now a sophomore in college and on my way to becoming a Pre-K teacher.