ALERT! SIBLING ABUSE SURVIVORS & ESTRANGED CHILDREN

 

Sibling violenceNancy Kilgore is survivor of sibling abuse. She is a consultant who does referrals on EMDR; she is also a Coach on Sibling Abuse. Nancy received her  B.A. and teaching credentials from Sacramento State University and her Master’s from the University of Oregon. She is an author of The Sourcebook For Working With Battered Women, Every Eighteen Seconds, and Sibling Abuse: True Story of the Impact to Childhood & Adulthood. She is a national trainer the United States Department of Justice,  rape and domestic violence coalitions, and  adjunct professor for universities. She has written for Counselor Magazine and has appeared on radio and television. Website: hope4siblings.com

In America Alone There are 40 million Adult Sibling Abuse Survivors. 

80% of all Adults Have at Least 1 Sibling.

sibling abuse survivors

In the U.S., 43% of adults experiencing a mental illness are not receiving treatment.

In 1 year, an increase of 664,000 adults in the U.S., are suicidal.

100,000 Americans have died from overdose.

Survivors of Sibling Abuse are everywhere and have been a part of our world since it began. Without us this world would not have been made.  We are the largest population of undetected crime victims. We are sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, neighbors, co-workers, and friends.  We have always been a part of mankind and  have been ignored. 

SIBLING ABUSE SURVIVORS

 

You are important in exposing the largest, silent and secret group of crime victims: Sibling Abuse survivors.  I am one of them.   We are the “core” of the present  mental health crisis. Right now, many survivors are alone and have not only lost a sense of safety in this  world of the “great re-set,  we are also estranged or cut off from our adult child(ren) and grandchildren.

Down deep we are all worried about whether the human race is going to survive.  Because of societal propaganda to erase the importance of family, lockdowns, quarantines, political divisions, conflicts about the vaccination, and fears of transmission of the virus between parent and child, vast numbers of survivors are estranged or cut off from their adult children. Many are in perilous places of poor mental health. Because of the massive cut off with our own children during the pandemic, many survivors mentally collapsed and felt hopeless. The re-set to our world was very difficult. The grief process defied closure. The rejection, in many lives led us back to re-experiencing our unsafe childhoods.  The terror and humiliation that came from our sibling(s), now came from our adult child(ren).  Overall, our child was an affirmation of our mental makeup that the world had some sense of safety and control. an assurance that the world had some control.  Separation from our child, even if they were an adult, was a significant jolting experience because we often lived in a limbo experience between the a present hurt and betrayal and the past

Many survivors are suicidal and are assuredly a part of the rise in suicides. I believe that a survivor’s health and wellbeing should ever be ignored or allowed to deteriorate. We must honor each one. 

sibling abuse survivors

Our child was our first trusting relationship and it was where we finally not only felt accepted, it was a precious “first” human relationship were we felt hopeful. Without the relationship our malformed identity often collapses with excessive vulnerabilty.

Survivors, in my estimation,  were  gallant warriors in regard to parenting. For many of us, we stood guard as parents even though the echoes of the battlefield of our childhood were ever present. We carried the scars of sibling abuse and the vast majority of were clueless about how to enter a lasting recovery. didn’t know what to do for recovery. We needed comfort and support from our family and the world. The majority of us didn’t get compassion and I believe that were were heroic  as parents. Sibling abuse never prepared us to be parents. It prepared us to have immature thought patterns. as we put in our time as the one in charge, many of us knew that something was deeply wrong with our mind. We silently said to ourselves: am I harming my child by being their parent?  Estrangement of our older, adult children, caused us to not only be critical of ourselves, it produced overwhelming shame. 

sibling abuse survivors Defining Sibling Abuse

Sibling Bullying and Estrangement with My Adult Son

The Impact of Adult Child Estrangement & Mental Health 

HOPE: Strategies to De-Program Victim Mindset

Empowerment Thoughts

Closing Thoughts to Sibling Abuse Survivors & Supporters

Resources to Change Behavior Patterns

sibling abuse survivors

Defining Sibling Abuse 

Sibling Abuse, it isn’t about sibling rivalry or normal competition. The level of violence is parallel to the assessment guidelines utilized for battered women involved in domestic violence. Sibling bullying is defined as repeated aggressive behavior between sibling that is intended to inflict harm either physically, emotionally, or sexually. Sibling Abuse is never asked for by the victim and it is not age appropriateMany survivors have been traumatized by sadistic siblings, psychopaths, narcissists, and sociopaths.  Many were subjected to threats or attempts to murder. A psychic shift of disorientation and a loss of control is what many victims experienced. As adults, vast numbers still have stress hormones, specifically, cortisol, in their bloodstream.  Sibling Abuse damaged and altered the developing brain that is resistant to being “completely” reformatted to its original form. 

sibling abuse survivor

The vast majority of survivors of Sibling Aggression, at the time of the crime, weren’t protected or supervised by their parents or caregivers. This tragedy is overlooked by parents, health professionals, therapists, and society. Sibling crimes are rarely prosecuted.  Throughout the evolution of civilization, murders perpetrated by siblings were predominately, for  covered up or evaluated as accidental. Survivors of Sibling Abuse are in various stages of recovery. Many had support and were able to get life-altering therapy. Many can’t remember what happened or rationalize that their abuse wasn’t so bad or a necessary part of growing up.

sibling abuse survivorsSibling Bullying and Estrangement with My Adult Son

I can never forget that I am a mother. I went through the labor pains of childbirth without painkillers.

A lifetime ago, I couldn’t fathom that at this time in my life, I wouldn’t have a relationship with either my son or grandchildren.

In my childhood, the abuse perpetrated by my older sister was very severe. I am glad to be alive.  Throughout every year of my parenting, I sought therapeutic help to recover from what had been done to me. For twenty-eight years of my life, I couldn’t remember what had been done to me at 10. For many years in my parenting, it never occurred to me that anything was wrong with me or that my abusive sister was a predator to me. Her abuse  was criminal. In my adulthood, I was fiercely loyal and very proud of not only my family, but also of my abusive sister.  When my son was conceived, I was oblivious to the harm done to my young life. I wasn’t prepared to either be a parent or an adult.  Sibling Abuse cast long shadows on my adult life and was deep in my psyche.  I had the huge task of being a  single mother and was both a mother and a father role model. I was a woman-child and made decisions from the mindset of a very young child. I had a very shaky identity and often felt lost. As a parent, my identity was largely connected to being my son’s mother. I wanted someone to love me.

From childhood, I had longed to have a loving family and continually sought information on how to parent and improve my confidence.

For much of my parenting, I was shunned by my own family and didn’t understand why. I deeply loved my son and if I had to, I would have given my life. Through the years I did my best to assure him that I knew what I was doing in regard to our little family. I, however, was impulsive and immature.  I always conveyed that we we  would have continuity in knowing each other.  Unfortunately, in my precious time of being a parent, I was not only misdiagnosed, I was in the wrong  type of therapy. It took almost three decades to get the right diagnosis: Complex PTSD. With  EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing), many of my old fears and behaviors were replaced with healthy patterns.  This helpful therapy was started two weeks after my son left home. He was eighteen. To this day, even with extensive trauma therapy, I know I will never quite be put back together. I do feel less anxious and feel more purposeful. Thankfully, my life improved and I feel more empowered.

After trauma therapy helped me my recovery, my adult child was very angry at me.

I was called a horrible mother and was asked why I hadn’t given him up for adoption. My son also told me that he was ashamed of me. My world was turned upside down. After he left our home, I wasn’t completely sure where my son lived or how to contact him. His rejection was very painful. I was devastated and decentered. I didn’t have a compass or map for how to proceed.  When my son did call, he was emotionally abusive. After his calls I often cried for several hours.  My college background of education pertaining to child development mocked me. The void felt endless. Everything that happened to my life “before” felt definitive.  I was re-triggered back to what I felt when I was abused as a child: worthless, anxious, paralyzed, etc. The anxiety attacks were terrifying. Sometimes I couldn’t see pictures of my son and avoided photo albums and hid them. I didn’t want to go on another regimen of anti-depressants. In many dark nights of soul  my mind wished that that I had never conceived. I was hard on myself and admonished myself for being a victim of sibling abuse. The emotional abuse that I received from my son was supported by not only by his girlfriend, but also my own family. My abusive sister enjoyed knowing that my son was critical of me. Every cell in my body hurt. I was stripped of being a mother. My son looked at my sister as his mother.

I continued trauma sessions. My personality changed; I was forty-eight years old.

I was angry at the world, God, and myself. My son’s birthday, Christmas, and Mother’s Day was never easy for me. I rarely received a gift. Instead of my birthday being remembered, I was punished with no call or gift.  My grief couldn’t be cured. Sometimes I couldn’t eat because eating was for the living. I wasn’t sure I was alive. I didn’t sleep.  I became grateful that I couldn’t remember my son’s voice. An actual death or funeral never occurred. My mother-eyes looked for him in every crowd and in every young man. I searched for our common, unique DNA in young children. A replacement was never found. On rare occasions, there were hopeful reconciliations and we participated in therapy sessions that were only on a “one” time basis. Subsequent sessions weren’t done because we lived in different states. When he did call, I was often told that I needed to abide by his rules. I was told that I was to never ask for any help or live by him. I was told that I stole and ruined his childhood.   I kept asking un-ending questions: Where did I go wrong in parenting? What could I have done better? How can I get over hating myself for hurting my child?  I sensed that a murder had occurred. 

Sibling Abuse Survivors

A helpless victim mindset had to be discarded because my bitterness was off the charts.  I had to learn how reclaim myself. I had to learn to re-inhabit my being.

Thankfully, a new perspective came.  The greatest gift was self-compassion.  I was forced to acknowledge not only my own worth, but also my past. After my master’s degree, I had contact with survivors in my national trainings as an adjunct professor, in radio programs, and a Facebook group.  I was often stunned to hear that they too had experienced estrangement with their adult child.  I was deeply moved by their willingness to not only love their children, but “any” human being. They were mirrors of my life. They were my heroes. I tried to never miss an opportunity to tell them that they were courageous and brave. My sense of mental well being increased. Even though my son hated me, I was determined to love myself. 

The Impact of Adult Child Estrangement & Mental Healthsibling abuse survivors

A rare research study in 2013 by Corrina Jenkins Tucker, Associate Professor of Family Studies at the University of New Hampshire, which was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatric, June 17th, 2013,  https://www.unh.edu/unhtoday/2013/10/sibling-aggression-and-mental-health  substantiates that the impact of sibling aggression impacts adulthood.  Many adult embody the crimes of what was done to them in childhood through: 

Psychiatric Hospitalizations, Prescription usage for anti-depressants/anxiety, Disability, Domestic Violence, Drug/Alcohol addictions, Unemployment, Hospitalizations, Poor Parenting, Emergency Visits, Gambling, Overspending, Bad
Relationships, Divorce, Numerous Doctor’s Visits, Psychiatric Admittance,
Homelessness, Imprisonment, Suicide etc.

Victims of Sibling Aggression often have crisis filled adult lives.  In our childhoods, when the aggression by a sibling was perpetrated, the vast majority of us weren’t soothed or told by a parent that the aggressive actions of a sibling(s) were wrong.  For the majority of us, we didn’t witness our sibling(s) being reprimanded or punished. This played a huge part in our adult mental health challenges and also impacted our parenting. Early in our lives, overlearned how to be victims.  For many survivors, our child is an anchor of validation and is helpful in our first lessons of trust.  The parent-child relationship is education on how to be a social human being.

Unfortunately, when we did experience estrangement from our adult child, we often don’t have access to supportive siblings or relatives who might help in the reconciliations with our “adult” child. Many of us have been met with lectures and criticisms about our child being separated from us.  We learned that seeking support was dangerous. Pervasively, the  world didn’t want to know either about our estrangement or Sibling Abuse.  Many of us experienced  toxic interactions with family members, our own friends, and also partner that put us at mental risk. We rarely found support or a compassionate, non- judgmental person.  We often isolated were consumed with shame, guilt, and self-hatred.  Suicidal ideation was often present.

In the void of not having contact with our child(ren), we are often catapulted back to terrifying places in our childhood. 

sibling abuse survivors

Survivor-parents often have an additional level of estrangement that emanates from their own birth family. Massive numbers are the family scapegoat. Many are shunned by their own family. This often happens at a time when survivors need the embrace and support of their family. When a child leaves, many are overcome with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness…the same feelings that were felt as a child.

 

 

HOPE: Strategies to De-Program Victim Mindset

As survivors we need to learn new skills. Take what is helpful for your life. I will share what I personally learned and what was suggested by other survivors. Take time for you.  If your child returns, they will experience a stronger “you.”

 *If you are contemplating calling your adult child, check in with yourself. Are  you are seeking validation and are in low levels of confidence? Be mindful if you are feeling clingy, codependent, helpless, or angry.

Do not engage in conversations with your child where you are screaming and trying to make a case that they are either hurting you or that they are ungrateful.

Avoid contact with an emotionally abusive older child who is in alliance with your family, taken your money and won’t pay it back, or who wants you to feel guilty for parenting them. Never call a child who doesn’t want to speak to you. Honor their boundaries. Your lack of contact, hopefully, will help them think more clearly. If you participate in a negative interaction, be mindful of how you are feeling and then jumpstart your mood and feelings by focusing on the millions of things that you did to help your child to feel loved, nurtured, and educated. Here are a couple of things to review: birthday gifts, getting or making a birthday cake, celebrating holidays, teaching manners, reading to them, showing them how to talk and to write, dressing them, bathing them, not adopting them out, etc.

*Refuse to hate yourself for your tour of duty in being a parent. Be mindful that many adult children want to blame their parent and have no understanding or education about Sibling Abuse. Learn self-compassion. In each day of your life, from this day forward, let self- compassion be your #1 focus. Read everything you can on self-compassion. You have always had worth. Uphold your self respect and call a hotline before you get involved in a call that could cause you to have self doubts, be depressed, or suicidal. It will not be worth the countless days that it will take to make you love life again.  Many survivors are re-triggered by their adult children and can isolate after a bad call with a rejective, hurtful adult child.

*If your child consents to therapy with you, research a particular type of therapy called IMAGO. It encourages anger to be shared in a manner that isn’t combative, but rather informative and peaceful. Most therapists are uneducated about Sibling Abuse. Do your research and be proactive when interviewing a prospective therapist. They work for you and many aren’t trained in how to handle either estrangement from an adult child of a Sibling Abuse Survivor.  Many therapists, who are not trained about Sibling Abuse, cause more harm in parent-child sessions by creating arguments. Empathy isn’t often established about what a survivor-parent went through as a child.

*Improve your communication skills. They  can be utilized when you talk to yourself, your family, or your adult child.  Become skilled at Active Listening by being coached by a therapist or minister. On YouTube there are several helpful videos that will assist you in understand the basics of Active Listening. It is a helpful skill to learn detachment and maintain wellness.

*Grief is hard. Take care of your mind, body, and spirit. Be mindful of  negative statements you might be saying to yourself in regard to your separation with your adult child. Remember your worth. Our negative statements affect our mind, body, and spirit. Try not to be a martyr. Eat. Sleep, Re-direct your negative inner statements  by writing in a journal. Say the exact opposite to what you are saying to yourself: “I am a complete failure as a mother,” to “I have worth and it isn’t dependent on how my child treats me.” Throughout the day remember to say positive statements about yourself. Compliment yourself for the many things that you do to survive. Remember what you did to help your child survive. Start your focus on something small…even if it was taking paying a bill or celebrating your child’s first day of school. Learn to meditate or have 30 or an  hour of no stimulation from the world. Track your thoughts and turn them around!

*Seek professional help if you can’t sleep, are isolating, aren’t enjoying your life, starting to drink or use drugs, etc. My recommended therapy is EMDR or Mind Mapping. You can learn about them on Google and YouTube.

*Estrangement from an adult child, is something society doesn’t want to deal with or hear about. Survivors are often perceived as being bad parents and the separation is probably justified. If you are seeking to vent with a friend about your estrangement with an adult child, choose one who isn’t controlling, doesn’t give advice or lectures. Stay away from a friend that insinuates that you are to blame. When wanting to share with your family, consider if you are a low ranking family member and if you are shunned or not accepted. Also evaluate who you trust in your family. Know that whatever you have shared, if you are the family scapegoat,  your statements about your estranged child, will probably be incorporated in family gossip. Call National hotlines on Domestic Violence and Suicide Prevention. You are in Domestic Violence if your  physically threatens you. You don’t need to be suicidal to call a Suicide hotline.

Sibling Abuse SurvivorsPower Thoughts to Stop Victim Mindset

It is important to understand that you are not fully responsible for the estrangement/cut off by your adult child. Refrain from being self hateful by realizing that there were many factors. For many survivors, it is helpful to acknowledge their family dynamic as a child. It is also important to recognize that the world is ignorant about sibling abuse and that our true lives are dismissed as having no relevancy. The following are tailor made power thoughts for a survivor. Try to select one or both and write at least 5X’s a day.

Mindfully repeat them throughout the course of your day. 

I have no control over my adult child and am aware of my worth.

I have put focus on my own precious life that I will help nurture it to reach my dreams.

  

sibling abuse survivors

Closing Thoughts to Sibling Abuse Survivors & Supporters

You are important to me. Please share this blog with family members, partners, and therapists. I hope it will help in the healing a survivor, create interventions,  reconciliations, and understanding. I hope it saves a life.

What we learned as a child was a lie. We were always free. It is time to celebrate our birth and freedom. I believe in your wisdom to recover and thrive. I am elated that you are here. You are strong and worthy of “the good life.” If I knew your name, I would speak it. You were conceived to make your mark on this world. You came to this world to walk on this earth and make deep, confident footprints. You are unique and are the true meaning of persistence and courage. No one has parted the air before like you have. You have searched for the truth for so long. Your journey is commendable and your knowledge on how to survive is vast. You have talent enough and courage enough to step into the brightest life. May you never forget that when it was hard, and you were overwhelmed, and felt afraid, and walked alone, and felt unheard, and didn’t know which way to go, and wanted to stop, you kept going

Forever Forward,

Nancy Kilgore, M.S

 

Resources to Change Behavior Patterns

CD- Healing Trauma: A Guided Meditation for Post traumatic Stress PTSD Research Proven Guided Imagery to Reduce Symptoms in Trauma Survivors, First Responders, and Caregivers  by Belleruth Naparstek 

Beyond Done With Crying-More Answers and Advice for Parents of Estranged Children by Sheri McCregor, M.A.

       

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman 

National Sexual Assault Hotline,Hours: Available 24 hours 1-800-656-4673

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish. 800-273-8255

Depression & Crisis Hotline 1-800-784-2433
 Families Anonymous (Addiction/Recovery) 1-800-736-9805
Al-Anon Family Groups (Addiction/Recovery) 1-888-425-2666

Sibling Abuse: True Story of Impact to Childhood and Adulthood by Nancy Kilgore, M.S

Thanks for coming into this blog. Let me know what was helpful!

sibling abuse survivors