Violence in the family: when enemies are in the house

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Joe Dispenza
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Violence in the family: when enemies are in the house

Sometimes the family can be our greatest enemy. There are parents, brothers or even in-laws and brothers-in-law who criticize us, humiliate us and create a void in us with the aim of invalidating us. Do you identify yourself in this situation?

Last update: June 05, 2022

Violence in the family is a form of aggression. It is based on constant criticism, humiliation, contempt and manipulation by parents, siblings or other figures towards a specific member.



Such a shared dynamic almost always depends on an individual whose actions are adhered to by some less powerful family members.

While it is true that when we talk about bullying, we almost instantly visualize a schoolyard or work environment, there is another scenario that we often overlook. The family also harasses and humiliates, and this psycho-emotional attack can sometimes be as damaging or equal to experiences of school bullying.

Having the enemy at home means not enjoying shelter or support. Growing up as the black sheep or ugly duckling is traumatic, and trauma is seldom properly addressed in adulthood.

Having one or more intimidators with the same genetic code means having to face uncomfortable situations even if you no longer live in the family unit. Let's try to describe this reality in more detail.

The emotional impact of family violence can cause physical and mental health disorders.

When one or more family members harass us, they fuel our insecurities in a way that weakens us mentally.

What does family violence consist of

We often say that the most common way to avoid a stalker is to get away from that presence. However, as we all know, this is not always possible.



The bullied child has to go back to school every day. The worker who suffers mobbing must respect his working day. And the person victim of family violence spends many years in an environment from which it is impossible for him to escape.

In addition to this, sometimes these aggressive dynamics are perpetuated even when the victim has already reached adulthood. Because the familiar "bully" takes a victim and intensifies the abusive and humiliating behavior. The worst aspect is that there is usually alliance or silence on the part of the other members.

This form of domestic violence is not new. IS a reality with a long tradition often silenced in our society.

Bullies in the family: who and how they are

It can be parents and even siblings. Likewise, when you start a relationship, in-laws and in-laws can sometimes face constant criticism and humiliation. In general, the person who mistreats a family member has one or more very specific traits:

  • His aggression is based on speech.
  • Show immature behavior.
  • Turn off the ignition to convince the other members as well.
  • Check the person.
  • It is vindictive.
  • The aggressor in the family can also be manipulative.
  • He may be acting out of jealousy and envy.
  • He can be arrogant and narcissistic.
  • There may be significant mood swings.
  • He is adept at misunderstanding everything, in changing what the victim does or says and humiliates her.


Kinship does not justify this harassing behavior. Distancing, interrupting contacts and even taking legal action is entirely legitimate in these contexts.

How does family violence manifest itself?

Being a victim of family violence can be confusing as a child, as certain dynamics normalize. However, as we grow up we realize that certain behaviors are not only legitimate.


This is because they hurt, intimidate and deprive of respect and well-being, dimensions to which we are all entitled. The signs of violence are very varied, but it is necessary to recognize them as soon as possible:

  • The victim is humiliated for his person, actions and words. The ugly duckling is made.
  • It diminishes.
  • The person is silenced and deprived of importance within the family.
  • Behaviors of criticism and constant contempt are adopted making the victim into the black sheep.
  • Chaos is created by turning every conversation into an argument, assigning blame and making false statements.
  • Blackmail and emotional manipulation.
  • Humiliating comparisons (your brother is a better person than you).
  • Superiority, malicious jokes and humiliating comments.
  • It is common to accuse the victim of selfishness, of having only their own interests in mind.
Abandonment, constant criticism, and psycho-emotional isolation aimed at a family member have a devastating impact.

Psychological effects

The bossy family behaves like a territorial animal. Many times the harassing brother, brother-in-law, mother, father-in-law or father are driven by jealousy, by that envy that tries to expel someone from the family unit; regardless of the link. As we can deduce, the mental and social impact is immense.


In fact, studies on the effects of domestic harassment are on the rise. For example, a research study conducted at the Universidad Central del Sur. Research clearly indicates that sibling violence causes profound distress and mood disturbances.

We also know that the longer the situation, the greater the impact on the person. Those who grow up in a dysfunctional environment tend to adopt self-destructive behaviors.


How to respond to family violence

Nobody has the right to hurt us in any way. It is fully justified to defend yourself, respond as soon as possible and even report such situations, regardless of whether the abuser is a family member. No one should instill fear and insecurity, criticize us, ignore us or cancel us out as people.

Setting limits, safeguarding our emotions, practicing self-care, seeking valid support figures, and keeping distance from aggressive family members is the key to our well-being. The family should always be a place of nourishment, not a battlefield.

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