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How to cope with an abusive and violent brother?
December 30, 2007 8:06 PM   Subscribe

Domestic violence filter : Please help me to cope with my abusive und violent brother. My twin brother gains satisfaction from ruining my life. What shall I do? (lengthy explanation)

Hello everybody. I have some sincere problems. Otherwise I would certainly not bug you. But maybe some of you might be able to help me out. After all, AskMeFi has a really strong community.

I am a 20 years old German (please excuse my bad English) who attends a local university and works part-time to pay for the expenses. I suffer from physical and mental abuse (since a year now) from my twin brother who is far stronger than me,although I do some weightlifting. He is quite lazy and does not want to study anymore. This is why he currently undergoes on-the-job-training at a bank. Unfortunately, however, he is only occupied with this work for about 7 hours a day. He goes out with friends practically every evening. Until then, however, he does not know what to do and harrasses me in every possible way:

He turns his music extremely loud so that I cannot concentrate on my studying. Or he makes me crazy by banging his fist rhythmically against the wall, that is seperating his room from mine, for extended periods of time. Whenever I encounter him in the corridor he violently bumps into me, sometimes so strongly that I fall to the ground.

He calls me names. He especially likes to cite Gunnery Sergeant Hartman - a character from the movie Full Metal Jacket- word for word calling me Private Pyle and shouting exactly the same lines at me as those in the film. THIS IS NO JOKE.

Apart from domineering over me my brother spents most of his time at home watching TV. I figured I could use this agaist him. This is why I began to run into the living room and (threaten him to) turn off the set-top box, whenever I just could not take it anymore. The set-top box can only be switched on again by entering a Pin code only known to my father. As a result my brother could not watch TV at least until late evening, when my father came home from work. After a few times of beating me up as a form of punishment he recognized that I hazard the consequences and things seemed to get better. But then he began to -slightly though- choke our Dachshund - whom I care for very much - whenever I turned off the TV. As a matter of fact, my only leverage went down the drain.

The only advise my parents give me is to ignore and to evade him, whichs is hardly possible, as he seeks the dispute. Apart from that they (can) do practically nothing to stop my brother. On the one hand, they do notwant to kick him out of the house. On the other hand they could not do so, even if they wanted do, because my brother overpower my dad.

What can I do to improve this situation? Calling the police is definitively a no-no. My parents do not approve this at all in fear of rumours. I cannot move out, either, because I simply can't afford that. Since I already work 6 hours a day, I would not have enough time to study, if I took on a second job to pay the rent.

Please tell me your ideas.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
move out.
posted by HuronBob at 8:14 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sounds like he might have some mental health issues, which makes this worse. I am sorry.
Can you adjust your own schedule as a short term fix? The problem seems to be with the interlude between his coming home from work and his going out with friends (or at least until your parents get home). Can you study in the school library during that time?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:16 PM on December 30, 2007


Can you study somewhere else? I would spend as much time away as possible.
posted by Pants! at 8:22 PM on December 30, 2007


I'm no expert in this, but it seems to me that you descrbed the situation aptly when you said "he seeks the dispute". By doing things like turning off the TV, you react to him and escalate the situation; you are giving him what he wants. I'd suggest that you have a policy of non-confrontation on this: get on with your life and ignore him as much as possible. If he plays his music, wear headphones. If he watches TV while you are trying to study, go into another room where there is no TV. If he starts reciting lines from films, just ignore him. Turn away and ignore him. Saucy's suggestion of changing your schedule to get away from him as much as possible is good too.

What I think he is doing is, for whatever reason, looking to get you annoyed. If you do things like turn off the TV, you are reacting to him and giving him some sort of satisfaction. His life sucks, so he wants yours to suck as well to make him feel better.

And start saving so you can move out into your own place!
posted by baggers at 8:27 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know the answer. "Calling the police is definitively a no-no..., I cannot move out..."

Those are the only two possible solutions to this unfortunate problem. Unfortunately, you have already convinced yourself not to do them. I realize that these are the hardest things to do, but if you feel that your safety is in jeopardy, that is what you MUST do.

I wish you all the luck in the world in dealing with this difficult problem.
posted by ruwan at 8:35 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does the local university have a study room or library? I would do as much studying there as possible. And/or I would try to get some friends through school that you could spend most of your time with. Only go home to sleep or to spend time with your family; don't plan to be there any time that he is around.

I am very sorry that this is happening, and it must be harder since it is your twin. It sounds like you want some way to change his behavior but the only thing you have control over is your response, which is to deny him access to you.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:36 PM on December 30, 2007


Could you afford to move out if you had a roommate, or better yet a few of them? There have got to be plenty of other students looking for the same.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:36 PM on December 30, 2007


The realistic solution here is to do your studying in a library, and save your money to leave. Don't tell your parents that you are going to the library (they might tell him), but DO let them know that you are moving out at the earliest available opportunity directly because of him - this might prompt them to do something about his behavior.

Additionally, it's likely that your university offers counseling of some sort that can help you with this situation.

Finally, if he ever does something serious (like really hurt you or your dog), and your parents do not IMMEDIATELY react then their actions constitute bona fide negligence. In that case you are perfectly right to call the police - because at that point the problem is as much THEM as it is HIM.

I really hope things work out for you, but know that your best bet is to extricate yourself from this situation as quickly as possible.
posted by Ryvar at 8:45 PM on December 30, 2007


You cannot afford to move, but you don't have to be at home all of the time. Can you be out when your brother is home? Get out of the house when he's there. Visit with friends, study at the library, go to work and keep yourself busy and away from him.

Is there anyone at school you can talk to about this? A counselor or teacher you trust?

I will say, though, that if someone choked one of my pets, I would call the humane society on him no matter what my parents wished.

I am very sorry, but it sounds to me like your brother is a psychopath. Hurting animals is one of the classic signs of an abusive person, and you can be sure that his violence will escalate to hurting people someday. He will end up in jail or dead if he continues down this path, and if your parents are unwilling to do anything, you need to move, or at least get out of the house as much as possible until you can afford to move away.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:48 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


This man is a danger to you (not to mention your dog). Your parents will do nothing. This leaves you one option - MOVE OUT. Now.

I know you said you cannot afford it, but what about getting a roommate or several? Moving in with a friend or relative? Asking your school for any help they can give? Trying to find a job that pays better? If I were in your shoes I would move mountains in order to get the hell out of there.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:53 PM on December 30, 2007


Calling the police is definitively a no-no. My parents do not approve this at all in fear of rumours.

Too bad for them. Tell them they need to control your brother or they'll have to deal with the police and rumors. (I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "rumors"—worried about what the neighbors will think?—but it's not important.)
posted by grouse at 8:56 PM on December 30, 2007


If your only option is to gain alpha status over him, then you must hurt him more than he hurt you.
posted by PowerCat at 8:59 PM on December 30, 2007


First of all
study at the library. I always find I get more done there anyway.

Take up Judo at the University. Do it seriously for a year or two, and you should only have to slam the crap out of your brother once. I'm only sort of kidding. It seems like violence is his language. Unfortunately, bullies tend to respond to displays of power. Forget lifting weights learn how to fight, and beat him at his own lame game.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 9:01 PM on December 30, 2007


Whoops. Excuse the formatting error there.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 9:02 PM on December 30, 2007


I totally relate! My brother and I often fight and wrestle with each other (I'm 24, he is 21) to the point where he or I will want to stop but we wont let the other stop. When this happens, I feel powerless and helpless.

Here is what I found:

(1) Don't fight back. Baggers is right: Don't play his game. This means NO trying to get him back. You will never beat him at his own game. Worse, you will likely give him a motive to annoy you further.

(2) Tolerate it. It isn't causing long term damage. It won't last forever. Eventually you will be able to move.

(3) How you feel is your own fault. He tries to bother you but you can only be bothered if you let yourself be bothered. He is not in control of you. You are in control of you.

Consider the story of the man and his friend riding an elevator. As they descended a few floors another gentlemen with a closed umbrella tucked under his arm boarded the elevator. When the doors closed the umbrella began poking the first man in the chest. Eventually the man with the umbrella got off the elevator. As the doors closed, the first man turned to his friend and said, "He made me angry." His friend replied, "No, he poked you with an umbrella. You got angry all by yourself."

Read Victor Frankl's "Man's Search For Meaning". It's an easy read. The book contains some AMAZING quotes that will help:

"Everything can be taken from a man but...the last of the human freedoms - to choose
one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

He said this amidst the WORST of human mental and physical abuse.

Your English is great, BTW.
posted by agrandy at 9:02 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Totally ignore him. You need to do what agrandy said and work on your reaction to him. He is having problems. When he doesn't want to think about them, he picks on you to distract himself.

Observe him carefully. Get a notebook and write down what was happening just before he starts to harass you. See if there is a pattern. Be gone when he usually does this.

Find a way to be at home when he is training at the bank and gone from there when he comes home.

Tell your parents you think he isn't doing well and ask them to ask him if he is OK.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:13 PM on December 30, 2007


I agree with the posters above who suggest that you gnore him AND avoid him every chance you can. Study wherever you can go to study - as long as it's away from him. Save, save, save to move or as it was also suggested above, rent with roomies or hey, rent a room until you can afford more. ...and take your dachshund with you.

HighTechUnderpants might have something there - only, I would recommend Jiu Jitsu - not to fight him but to protect yourself should his level of physical violence ever escalates.

and if you can't move yet, i would definitely call the police if your parents won't get involved in protecting you and your pet.

good luck
posted by Jujee at 9:49 PM on December 30, 2007


Calling the police is definitively a no-no. My parents do not approve this at all in fear of rumours.

I hate to put this so bluntly, but assuming that statement is true, your parents are a big part of the problem and deserve whatever "rumors" people might start if they hear about this.

Call the police. Tell them what you have told us. Do this. PLEASE. Your brother is a dangerous person, and even if you could move out, it doesn't change what has already happened. People in this thread that are suggesting anything less than that are not helping you.
posted by dhammond at 10:14 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tolerate it. It isn't causing long term damage. It won't last forever. Eventually you will be able to move.

I disagree. I have been in a similar situation and I opted to "tolerate it" until I was able to remove myself from the situation permanently. To this day I feel nothing but disgust for said person, partly because I allowed myself to suffer the abuse without doing anything about it.

I don't feel simply "tolerating it" is the optimum solution. If you cant move out, you need to step up and make your parents or the law step in. Your brother is physically abusing you and your dog. If your parents refuse to realistically handle the problem, you need to forget about their feelings and press charges against him.

I also agree with those that recommended martial arts, for obvious reasons.
posted by Sufi at 10:15 PM on December 30, 2007


Only you can assess your own situations (the risks, benefits, possible outcomes, etc.). For example, it is my understanding that taking steps such as calling the police can escalate a violence situation, so you should factor that into the mix when you are making your decisions. There are trained people (at every college and university) who may be able to sit down with you to do what is called "safety planning." You could ask for a translator, also, if that would make you more comfortable. Find the campus crisis hotline for DV and sexual assault.

One small idea: Could you find someone to take your dog, at least temporarily?
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:38 PM on December 30, 2007


Omg! Get that poor dog the hell out of there!!

People that hurt animals are just fucking scum...
In case you had doubts yes you're living with what's known as a psychopath. Now that you're clear on that, the first thing you need to do is get the dog out of harms way. I always feel a great duty of care towards things that cannot protect themselves, but hey, that's just me.

If it were my brother I would have him involuntarily commited. And I'm being deadly serious here. Fuck that shit! My brothers and I were cruel to each other at times, which is fair enough, but we never mistreated creatures! I would also look into a restraining order maybe going hand in hand with that. Someone will be able to help you with the smartest way to go about it and what will be most beneficial for all concerned. (Try Domestic Violence type services - they'll point you in the right direction) Luckily he seems to respond to punishment and consequence. Perhaps an authority figure stepping in might snap him out of it.

And if you think they get better by themselves you're wrong it just gets worse. If your neighbors don't know already, they will. It might seem I'm being extreme but as he gets worse, you get more accepting and they snowball together. It's just crap and there's only one way to make it better. It just looks hard from where you are now I promise.

Get the dog to higher ground and get ready to battle. You can do this, stop being scared. Take no shit!!
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 10:57 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


You need to toughen up and put this into perspective. Right now I know this might seem like the end of the world but, believe it or not, a lot of people survive abusive, jealous brothers. You will survive this too. In ten years this sort of low-level childhood abuse disappears from the memory and all you're left with is a slight, unpleasant after-taste.

At the same time there's no reason to let yourself be miserable. There are all sorts of strategies you can adopt right now to make things better.

So get out the house. You're twenty so you should have plenty of freedom of movement. Stop studying in your room. Instead study at the library, in cafes, at a friends house, in an empty classroom, on the train, at your job, in the train station, in the park, in a diner or anywhere that isn't your room. You may live in the suburbs so all of these options may not be available to you. But you'll have to make do. You may be chained to a desktop computer in your room. But you'll have to make do. Whatever the reason, you'll have to make do. Get out the house as early as possible, stay out as long as possible, and return as late as possible. Start spending nights elsewhere -- perhaps with a girlfriend? -- if you can.

Stop talking to your brother. He probably doesn't have much to say anyways so you won't be missing much. Just stop talking to him or acknowledging him in any way. Ignore him up until the very moment you absolutely can't. Frankly, banging on walls is a stupid reason to get into a fight with him. Put on some headphones, go to another room, or take that as a cue to stop studying, take a break, and wait for him to stop. (I'm assuming your brother doesn't have serious mental issues and can't keep up the wall banging for more than twenty minutes or so.) Name calling is pretty much the hallmark of immaturity so there's no reason this should upset you. When he calls you names you have to let it slide off you and not respond at all. Don't respond with your own quip, don't get upset, just ignore him. In your mind you need to do a mental translation; when he calls you names what he's really saying is 'Don't waste your time or energy talking to me because I'm an idiot who calls people names to get attention.' Keep doing this translation in your head until it becomes habit.

If you ever get to a point where you absolutely can't ignore your brother you'll have to leave the house. This may seem very unfair but at the end of the day you need to make it clear that when he messes with you, you're gone. This is why it makes sense to simply never be home in the first place.

The other option is to beat the living shit out of your brother. I don't mean wrestling him or punching him in the eye or throwing something at him. I mean buying a baseball bat and, the next time he pisses you off calmly leaving the room and returning with the bat and hitting him as hard as you possibly can. Don't threaten him, don't warn him, don't give him any kind of chance -- just swing for the bleachers. Break his arm. Put him down, like you might a rabid animal. This is a pretty risky strategy but it works. Unless your brother is a total psychopath, he'll get the message and slowly start to realize that fucking with you again and again isn't a good idea. You may also need to do this in front of your parents so they finally realize just how serious the situation is. Many parents are quite adept at tuning out sibling bickering (and I can only imagine the situation with twin brothers) but once weapons are out they will intervene and take serious steps. This is because they don't any of their children to end up dead. If you do decide to go this route and you seriously hurt your brother, you might have to call the police and claim self-defense so consider that.

In the end you just need to move past this. You have a long, happy life in front of you and, if you study hard and don't let your brother make you miserable, you'll probably be free and clear sooner than you might think.
posted by nixerman at 11:34 PM on December 30, 2007


By doing nothing, your parents are saying that it is more important that they should be free from rumors than that you should be free from fear. And that's wrong. You don't have to call the police, but you can call a domestic violence help line. They will be able to advise you as to what options are available to you in Germany. There is probably a shelter where you can live, and resources to help you build an independent life, away from your abusive brother.
posted by happyturtle at 11:57 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Avoidance and taking care of yourself is great advice. Don't engage him, he WANTS you to fight with him.

Do not, please, please, do not take the advice of going after him with a baseball bat. This is the classic situation where the person being attacked would take the weapon and use it against you instead. He sounds like the type of person who wouldn't give a second thought to overpowering you, taking a weapon away, and using it against you. Avoid that situation at all costs.

Find other places to study. Find other places to sleep or hang out if you need to. Take care of yourself. If the violence escalates, call the police. Because what is worse? That the neighbors are talking about how you called the police to protect yourself? Or the neighbors talking about how your brother seriously injured (or, heaven forbid, killed) you or your parents when his violence got out of hand?

Trust me, if he is loud, the neighbors already know. It doesn't matter. Protect yourself or forget about what the neighbors think.
posted by jeanmari at 12:03 AM on December 31, 2007


"I'm assuming your brother doesn't have serious mental issues"

This started a year ago. It's quite likely that in fact he DOES have serious mental issues. His behaviour is not normal behaviour. If it is a recent change, mental illness is a likely cause.

If you feel it's worth talking to your parents you should tell them - your brother needs help too. He has abandoned his studies. He needs your attention so badly he is prepared to hurt the family pet to get it. He is not well.

It is very unlikely that you can successfully help your family on your own. So:

- you need to look after yourself first. Find somewhere to study outside your own house. Make friends with other people you can visit. Ignore your brothers behaviour - he really, really wants you to react. He may do bad things to try to get your attention. Ignore them. Remind yourself that you are going to graduate, get a job, and leave.

- try to talk to your parents again.

- seek out help from social agencies. I hope a German who is more familiar with your local government assistance programmes will provide some advice on people who can help you. I don't think you need the police; I think you need help from people who provide mental health and counselling services.

Finally, you have outlined some conditions that prevent you dealing with this problem:
- your parents can't make your brother leave.
- your parents don't want to call the police
- you don't want to take a job that will enable you to leave home because you want to be able to continue studying.

You can't force your parents to do something. However, you can do something. But, you need to change your mind about what is possible.

You can call the police and complain of assault on your own. Or, you can leave.

I bet your university has people who have the job of talking to students in difficult circumstances. Go and find out whether you can suspend your studies for a while without failing your exams. Find out whether the university can provide assistance for independent living.

Are your grandparents alive? Do you have a sympathetic aunt or uncle? If so, ask if you can stay with them.

Suppose that you take a break from your study, get a job, and leave. In a year or two, things may be very very different. Perhaps your brother will have changed and you will be able to go home. Perhaps you will find friends or family you can stay with cheaply so you can resume your studies. Perhaps you will like your new job so much that you don't want to study any more. Perhaps you will have found a way to support yourself through government assistance that allows you to return to study. And if not - you will still be living an independent life, free of your brother and your helpless parents. You will be happier.

You are twenty years old now. You are your own man. Du bist schon erwachsen. You can disappoint your parents and make your own plans. One of the very hardest things we do as we grow up is break away from our families and their expectations. Sometimes our parents are right, and sometimes they are wrong. It sounds to me as though you cannot imagine leaving your family home. However, maybe that's what you need to do now.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:28 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


PS: this is a very difficult situation. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe other people are wrong. However, you need to do something to change this situation.

Whatever you do, don't hit your brother with a baseball bat. If you hit him hard enough, you'll kill him, and that will ruin everything. If you don't hit him hard enough, he might kill you. That was stupid advice from someone who has never been hit in the head with a baseball bat. Please ignore it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:31 AM on December 31, 2007


Could you find someone to take your dog, at least temporarily?

Yes, definitely do this. Don't risk him hurting the dog. Take her away and make sure no-one but you and the friend looking after her knows where she is. If your parents question you, just tell them "she's living somewhere safe until Freddie's gone." Also ask the friend to look after anything particularly valuable and delicate of yours. If you can't spare your computer, burn some backup CDs of your school work, and any other data you need, and leave that with the friend. The idea is to reduce the number of ways he has to hurt you down to exactly one: hurting you. (Well, there's also hurting your parents, but hopefully, they will realize they have to force him out before he does anything too serious.)

Regarding you moving out: in situations like this, real friends will help you. Even if you're just sleeping on someone's couch for a few weeks, get out for a while. Ask your friends. It's a reasonable and fair thing to ask a friend.

When at home, carry your mobile phone around in your pocket. If things escalate badly enough, get away from him and call the police yourself. You don't need your parents' permission to call the police. It might be the wakeup call your parents need.

Doing introductory jiu-jutsu or any other reputable martial art is a good plan. In a few weeks you can learn how to break a fall, how to break a hold put on by an amateur, and how to punch a lot harder than you do now, and give yourself a better sense of balance. Also, you hitting him with a baseball bat or otherwise killing or maiming him, at this point, is a bad plan. Don't. If things escalate, there are better ways to make your point; and between now and then, use the police.

And whatever you do, get the dog out of his reach!
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:45 AM on December 31, 2007 [2 favorites]


Good advice from aeschenkarnos, and it reminds me:

When you think about staying with friends or family, it doesn't have to be forever.

Even if you can just stay somewhere else for a weekend, it will help you. You will be be able to think more easily in a new environment. You will not have to worry about your brother, and you will have new people to talk to. Your mind will work better. Take a holiday from your family home while you think about what to do next.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:51 AM on December 31, 2007


Anonymous—my heart just goes out to you. As someone suffering from Bipolar disorder, with two younger sisters, I had my share of problems with them growing up, but Jesus—this is too much. Can’t all three of you sit him down and tell him that this behaviour will not be accepted anymore. Better yet—get him to a psychiatrist or something, and find out what’s wrong with him. (Do they have some kind of a medical plan that will help you do that in Germany?) Although, I’m not sure how open your brother will be to the whole idea of going to a doctor to seek treatment for what he doesn’t even consider to be wrong in any way. (Is there anyone else in your family who can talk to him, or at least warn him that if he pulls this kind of shit ever again—he’ll be in big trouble?) I don’t know what else to say; you asked for suggestions, and these were the best I could come up with. If it’s any consolation, I was at one of my aunt’s house yesterday, and she’s got a daughter-in-law who’s a real pain in the ass too; just about does anything to get on her nerves. She can’t wait to get out of that hell hole either. (You’re not alone).
posted by hadjiboy at 3:42 AM on December 31, 2007


I just had to deal with some family drama (not mine) in Germany. I knew the experience would come in handy someday.

IBÜKR (Ich bin überhaupt kein Rechtsberater)

Your 2 main options are:

1. Get your parents more involved and convince them that they need to be more concerned about the welfare of their children. They need to realize that it doesn't matter what the neighbors think. I know how some Germans are when it comes to neighbors and rumors in the village. They need to stop being spießbürgerlich and worry foremost about the well-being of their family. If this requires getting him to anger management therapy or a psychological evaluation, so be it. They need to step up and take your concerns seriously. Call the Beratungsstelle beim Familiengericht if your brother doesn't straighten out.

2. Beat the shit out of your brother. This should be avoided if possible but if he keeps it up, you will have to defend yourself. He is clearly jealous of the choices you have made and he wants to make it difficult for you to achieve your goals. Als Bankangestellter hat er kein spannendes Leben vor sich. Ignore his rude and boorish behavior until he gets physical. If he shoves you while walking down the hall, shove him back. Hard! If he throws a punch, throw 20 punches. Let him know that you aren't going to take his shit anymore. He might overpower you but don't back down. It may take a few times to get the point across but eventually he'll get it.

The following is based on my experience with family drama, German police and family services:

If you go to the Polizei and ask for help they will only get off their ass and help if you show signs of physical injury from your brother. Then when they get to your house, they will make sure he has calmed down a bit and ask you if you want to press charges (Anzeigen wegen Körperverletzung). The cops standing around outside your door mixed with a little family drama will surely get the neighbors talking. So keep that in mind if you are concerned about embarrassing your parents. If you choose to press charges, they may take him to the police station and do the necessary paper work but he'll probably be back home a few hours later. He'll then be either angry and looking for trouble or he'll know that you are serious.

Unless there are children under 18 living at home, the police are not likely to get more involved and they probably only will if they receive an order from the Familiengericht oder Jugendamt to make a move.

Since you are both probably over 18 (Volljährig), the Jugendamt probably won't get involved because they have enough problems trying to find parents who starve their children. So I wouldn't count on them. Falls es Minderjährige im Elternhaus gibt, ruf das Jugendamt sofort an und erkläre die Situation. Sie können Dich weiterberaten.

Another option is to go to a Beratungsstelle at the Familiengericht. Since you are all adults, it is a family affair and they will probably at first tell you to sort it out yourselves and say it is none of their business until an expert (Doctor, psychologist etc.) steps in and says that your brother is sick and is a danger to others around him. This requires getting him to submit, voluntarily or otherwise, to a psychological evaluation and be diagnosed with something other than being a huge asshole. The Beratungsstelle at the Familiengericht can probably offer advice for finding the best way to do this and whether or not it is necessary.

The Familiengericht may be able to help you find a mediator and a neutral location for discussion but that means you will have to get all parties to agree to a time and place to meet. It sounds like your brother and parents won't be into that. You'll have to convince them otherwise.

Ironically, your best chance of getting him help and to attract attention from the authorities may be to get him charged with animal cruelty or neglect. This bypasses all the hurdles set up to "protect" humans. No Jugendamt, no Familiengericht. Only use this if he actually injures your pets. Hopefully it won't come to that.

Unfortunately, I have found family disputes to be one of the most screwed up bureaucratic minefields in German law (other than being an American and trying to get a German driver's license and Steuerrecht). Unless you are a women with children or your neighbors haven't seen your children in months, it is very hard to get the authorities to help. When they do take action however, they do pretty good if they are on your side.

Hope this helps.
posted by chillmost at 4:07 AM on December 31, 2007 [7 favorites]


Sorry to hear all this, n-thing try to avoid him at all costs, and move out NOW or as early as possible, whatever it takes, and please do take the dog with you. Your brother has clearly mental health issues. He also might become dangerous to your parents, so be on the lookout.

(The fact he's your twin brother would be lots of fun for a psychologist. I suggest you visit one, not so much as for yourself (but, you're probably traumatized by this), as for clearing up your mind about the situation. Also, a psychologist might have useful advice about finding social help for him/your family).

Either that, or confront him and in case things escalate, I'm sorry but you'll have to literally beat the shit out of him, badly and with no warning. You're already hurt, you don't deserve to take this any longer.

You look (read) like a really decent person, though, so I think and hope you'll stick with the first (and better) option.
posted by _dario at 4:38 AM on December 31, 2007


is your family religious? is there a priest you can ask for help? it doesn't sound like anything that you can call the police over, at least not yet. it's probably not illegal in germany to be an asshole.

alternatively, is there a relative or a friend you can move in with? that might be the best solution.

finally, you might want to secretly record your interactions with your brother. you could even just have an audio recorder in your pocket. it may be that your parents don't understand how disturbed he is, and proof will help. tell them that you are really afraid for your safety.

good luck. i am so sorry you have to deal with this.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:44 AM on December 31, 2007


I agree with much of the above advice, but until you can come to a true resolution, get yourself some pepper spray and use it DEFENSIVELY (from what I'm reading, it looks like it's legal in Germany). Only spray your brother if you ABSOLUTELY have to to so that you can extract yourself from a situation. Do not use it to exact retribution.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:25 AM on December 31, 2007


It's hard to tell from the OP, but it's possible that your brother is mainly looking for your attention. Have you tried confronting him on these issues, to see if they can be resolved? The man is still human, and there may be a possibility that he is unaware of how badly his actions are hurting you. He's still your brother..and if you love the guy you need to get your family involved and people that care about him. He seems to be lost, or depressed, and is lashing out.

Running away from the issue is an option as well as many have recommended above. Only you know your brother though, and the factors surrounding his behavior. Take time to think it out, change your behavior so you're not being mentally overpowered (even though he is stronger physically). These are bad habits, and you could seek his help to stop them. Yet if its not simply bad habits and he is bi-polar or has a serious disorder, pepper spray for defense might send the message on a more basic level. You appear to still care about your brother, but take care of yourself first before you try to help him.
posted by samsara at 6:32 AM on December 31, 2007


Your parents are complicit in this. If this is new behavior coming from your brother then he seems to have developed some kind of illness -- perhaps he has a brain tumor? perhaps he is taking a crazy amount of drugs which are fucking with his head? perhaps he's off eating lead somewhere? If it is new behavior and your parents have not addressed that then that's even more severe. Something is wrong with your brother and he's taking it out on you. Your parents are allowing this. Basically, you're living in a house where it's three against one. Don't stay there.

I would encourage you to sit down with your parents in a neutral location and tell them that you are very worried about your brother -- you're his twin, you know him best. Tell them that he hurts the family dog and that that is a big, red flag on top of all his other behavior. Tell him that you can't live this way and you want your parents to get him help.

Then you need to find some roommates and leave. 20 seems old enough to handle this big, bad world by yourself. You can do it. You'll be so much happier.

If this is an ongoing thing -- he's been beating you up your whole life? Sorry, you just have to move. Personally, I would expect to get laughed off by the police. Your brother pushes you? That's what brothers do, right? Har, har, har. I don't think this kind of family voilence is taken very seriously but that may be different in Germany.

You need to take control of your life and stop letting your family control it. All the above suggestions are great interim things to do while you find roommates. You can do it. Good luck!
posted by amanda at 9:49 AM on December 31, 2007


Have you looked into some noise canceling headphones? Good ones that cover your whole ears. They won't be able to get rid of the noise entirely, but it should mute it enough to make it tolerable. Hole yourself & the dog in your room until your brother leaves or your parents come home. If you don't have a lock on your door, buy one. And look seriously into moving out & taking the dog with you. It might be more feasible than you think.
posted by lilac girl at 11:33 AM on December 31, 2007


Pepper spray is subject to the same problems as a baseball bat for the same reasons. It's just a weapon, not a magic talisman of defense. You need to think about and practice or how to use it properly (with a friend, use a spritzer or deodorant or something, and wear sunglasses or goggles) just as you would have to practice with a baseball bat.

There's a classic line a friend of mine used to use when teaching women's self-defense: do not mistake the mere carrying of pepper spray for self-defense, because you could get raped and pepper-sprayed.

If you need to carry a weapon to defend against your brother it's well past the point that you should get authorities involved, and chillmost explains all that above. If you do carry a weapon, whatever it is, learn to use the thing.

The major reason I'm not telling you to crack him across the shins with a tire iron is this: he still lives with you. Whatever you do to him, unless you scare him so badly that the thought of you triggers anxiety attacks, he will want revenge. That's what that kind of guy does. "The master strikes not to start a fight, but to end one."
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:47 PM on December 31, 2007


One thing to remember about pepper spray is if you spray it in a confined area, you're probably going to end up pepper spraying yourself to a certain extent.
posted by whoaali at 8:43 AM on January 1, 2008


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