Abuse is a widely misunderstood term. When someone hears or uses the word abuse, they automatically assume things along the lines of physical violence and/or neglect.
However, one of the official definitions of term abuse is, “To treat with cruelty, misuse, violence or verbal attacks, regularly and repeatedly.” To break it down, basically, if anyone is mistreating you in any physical or emotional way, it is classified as abuse. In my case, my abuser was an unlikely suspect. In some ways, it was almost discredited to others because of who this person was in my life.
When we have siblings, it is so normal to fight, bicker and rival between one another. In fact, growing up, all of my friends fought with their brother or sister, it was considered normal. But I always knew my situation was different.
As I was younger, people told me it was simply “sibling rivalry,” and that the reason for my brother's anger toward me was because he was secretly jealous of all of my successes. In a way, that made sense, but in no way did it make anything easier for me to live with.
I was young when it started. Too young to even realize what was happening in my house was considered abuse, or even different to what other people experienced with their siblings. As a high school student who was still trying to find herself in a stressful school environment, I dreaded the end of the school day, as it meant it was time to go home.
I would do anything not to go home. I would go for long runs, stay at the library to “study” or even stay at sports training longer than I needed to. This was all so I wouldn't have to face him. Most people experienced bullying in the schoolyard from fellow students. Well, my experience was just the opposite. Not only did my abuser live with me, but he was also supposed to be considered a part of my "family."
As the years went on, the more extreme it became. The police visited so many times that my house soon became a common visit for domestic disturbances. The abuse went from being something I didn't even recognize to something that beat me so far down, I wasn't sure if I would ever get up.
It blew my mind how someone could destroy me so much, without even laying a hand on me. Before I knew it, the words he taunted me with became something that was embedded deep within me. It made me question the person I was, as I asked myself, "What did I do to deserve this?"
I wasn't old or wise enough to know I didn't do anything to deserve this treatment. What he did to me was entirely a reflection of him as a person; it had absolutely nothing to do with who I was.
It made me feel so utterly hopeless, simply because it was inescapable. I can't tell you what it feels like to wake up every day and look at someone who took away a part of yourself. But what I can tell you is you can repair it. Somehow, someday, you will pick up all of your shattered pieces and glue them back together, one by one. It's not going to be easy by any means, but it is possible.
The hard thing about human existence is we are left with memories. Occasionally, I am left with nightmares of my experiences, which are difficult to wake up to and start your day with.
But the mind, the body and the spirit, has an incredible way of healing itself. And I truly believe that one day, my life will be filled with nothing but beautiful memories of love and happiness.
What I learned from my story was that an abuser is an abuser. There aren't any hidden terms and conditions on whether or not they are related to you, or laws stating you have to love them due to your shared biology, regardless of their cruelty. The truth is it doesn't matter who they are, all that matters is how they treat you.
One day, in a place far away, you won't have to live in fear of what they are going to do to you. You won't be known for what happened to you, but rather for how you picked yourself up despite it.