Originally Posted by ~PurityLake~
OP, your situation is much different than mine. I grew up with my older brother and younger half sister. My older brother was abusive toward us, but was abusive to a much greater degree towards me. I cut off contact with him in '96 (I was 22) but in '01 went out to his house because he paid for half my airline ticket and wanted me to surprise our parents who were going to his house, too. During my stay at his house, all the old feelings came up. I felt tortured just being in his presence. A conversation we had during my stay proved to me that he would never see me as a human deserving of basic human rights. I ended contact with him again after that visit. Last year, my younger half sister came to the state I currently reside for a visit (not the first visit since I've lived here). On this particular visit, she mentioned we weren't as close as she'd hoped we were. I confided in her some of the abuse our brother had put upon me, but not on her. She was shocked and in disbelief. Apparently, she later, even after I'd asked her not to, called up our brother and asked him about it. He said I was lying and he called our mother to ask if what I said was true. She confirmed that it was all true. Then he calls me. I had no idea about all these cross state phone calls and hearing from him out of the blue was a true shock for me. I felt ill hearing his voice. He told me about all the calls and said he simply didn't recall anything that I accused him of and has a hard time believing it ever happened. I cried, I told him I blame him for a lot of crap in my life, I told him I would likely never forgive him and said I had nothing more to say to him.
: He couldn't even apologize and kept claiming he didn't remember. When my parents visit, they still mention what he's up to, even though I say I don't want to know. Their last visit, they brought photos of him and his family and showed my daughters (they were christmas photos because they always fly down to visit him and his family for the holidays). I wish they'd let me just erase him from my life.
There is a tiny, tiny chance that your brother has truly no recollection of his abuse towards you. One legitimate reason would be if the abuse occurred during a dissociative break from reality. The horrible reality is that abusive people CAN DO THINGS DURING A DISSOCIATIVE SPLIT and they have no 'real' recollection of doing so years after the fact. There can be seemingly normal people who act out aggressive abuse and rage and either willfully or subconsciously repress/suppress the memories.
Both my mother, my stepfather and two of my sisters have been abusive to me in my childhood (my oldest sister was physically abusive - she hit me all the time and she chased me around the house with a kitchen knife once - she chased me outside, I climbed through my window...and she continued to chase me inside my room). They both have blocked out certain memories that I KNOW happened to me...because I was dating my husband at the time and HE remembers these things too. I have blocked out my share of memories too...because I was traumatized and when a child is traumatized...there is difficulty in how memories are transcribed by the mind. Unfortunately, I have blocked out happy memories as well as traumatic ones too. I know this because my stepmother has asked if I remembered some of the fun things we did with her and my real dad on visitation. And I simply don't. They are inaccessible to my conscious memory.
I do stay in my mother's life because she had changed over the years and has done a lot to 'make up' for the past and I am closer to her than I ever have been in recent months. I stay in my sister's lives lives because of their children...and yet, at the same time, I am not very close to them. I've had to keep firm boundaries with them in order to protect myself. It's a very difficult and tricky thing.
I have had to realize that at any time, they could turn on me. Even after I moved out of the house, they all have hollered at me, hung up phones on me, triangulated (ie - called each other up behind my back and talked, plotted and schemed a bit). I have had to learn to really emotionally distance myself from the Drama they create in order to have a relationship with my nieces and nephews.
If a family member was abusive and they don't actually have a mental illness with psychotic episodes (I'm thinking borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder or some such thing) it's possible that they were abused by someone too...and they had acted out what was done to them. This is why abuse runs in families, across generations. Alice Miller's book, the Drama of the Gifted Child (not gifted intellectually, but gifted in the sense of the ability to survive some pretty awful stuff) talks about the perpetuation of abuse down the generations.
I'd like to recommend Judith Herman's Trauma and Recovery. She provides information and help regarding something called complex-post traumatic disorder, a name that, among other things applies to the result of living with an abusive person/family.
- Difficulties regulating, including symptoms such as persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or covert anger.
- Variations in consciousness, such as forgetting traumatic events, reliving traumatic events, or having episodes of dissociation (during which one feels detached from one’s mental processes or body)
- Changes in self-perception, such as a sense of helplessness, shame, guilt, stigma, and a sense of being completely different from other human beings
- Varied changes in the perception of the perpetrator, such as attributing total power to the perpetrator or becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, including a preoccupation with revenge
- Alterations in relations with others, including isolation, distrust, or a repeated search for a rescuer
- Loss of, or changes in, one’s system of meanings, which may include a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair
Another good one is 8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery by Babette Rothschild.
For a really good book on Mourning the wounds of childhood (and if you have siblings that abused you, perhaps it was not your parent that abused you, they failed to protect you from sibling abuse), Dealing with Fear, Guilt, Anger (and distinguishing anger from it's opposite - which is DRAMA) and learning assertiveness skills and maintaining personal boundaries and some other valuable things is David Richo's "How to be an Adult: A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration." It's only 122 pages long...but it's incredibly eye opening.
I did not have the strength to break from my abusive family...but over the years had learned some self-protection. In time...the family drama lessened AND I learned to stay out of any new drama that cropped up.
Grief work for those who've been abused by their families is never really "done". It's a lifelong process of recognizing, mourning triggers that happen in the present from the past and dealing with any new realizations about the losses that may appear.
I just wanted to share this information with others. Best of luck and peace to all of us...