Family dysfuntions

I found out last night that my older brother beat the daylights out of my Dad back when he was still a teenager. He did it because they got into an argument and he lost his temper. He was gonna show that old man that he was the better man! Then he slammed my Dad's head into the dryer a few times. He is VERY proud of this, and the fact that Dad lost the fight. Decades later, he is looking for proof that he is not that mans son. He is according to our parents, who you'd expect to know. He asked me to get hairs from Dad for a DNA test. I'm inclined to as I'd love to see how badly he will handle knowing for certain he's Dad's son. I haven't yet because the rational side of me says that they have huge issues that they should get professional help for.

On a related story, my nephew tried to whip my brothers butt recently for offensive conduct (invading my nephews space in a combative way to intimidate and harass). My nephew failed, which makes my brother even prouder of himself.

Whenever I try to explain their end of things to my brother he laughs and says I'm always taking up the underdogs cause. Then usually rolls his eyes and says 'women' in a 'I'm a superior man and you are the weaker sex' kinda way.

He doesn't understand me, or my principles. I've chosen to deal with him on a daily basis for the sake of others.

He belittles my choice in friends, as they give me no status. The fact that they would walk through hell for me, are there for me more than my family is, and wouldn't drop my like last weeks garbage if I didn't have money doesn't mean anything to him.

He's constantly going on about how our family is worse than others because of Dad. How in a real family grandparents would make it for every grandkid event no matter how small, costly, or distance prohibitive. What he's really saying is that as he is the only one with kids, all of us should be at their beck and call day and night for whatever he suddenly thinks we should think is important (he never goes to the games, plays, etc.). It's not like we have lives that are important (cause there is no kids in them).

I know, he's a peach. /sigh. I don't want him to reconcile with Dad (cause I can't imagine Dad ever being ok with someone who hurt him as much as my brother has). I'd like him to gain respect for Dad. He never sees how much Dad did right or good by him to make him the man with money that he is today. Its always 'I did that all on my own' when in reality its because he can negotiate better than most. The rest of the businesses needs are handled by people who really do know about running a business. If it wasn't for them, and for Dad giving him a huge help starting up, he'd be broke and flipping burgers.

The option for how I gained his respect (little as it is) isn't open to Dad. There just isn't a hot iron around when he says something that pisses Dad off to knock my brother out cold with. Suggestions?

Laureril's picture


For as stubborn and disrespectful as your brother sounds, I don't know that anything short of a super-major crisis would do something to change his mind. It seems like his respect is purely for those who have some use to him or are able to physically dominate him. Ideally, you could drag everyone to therapy and just duke it out (verbally - sounds like there's already too much physical duking) with a referee.

Honestly, you shouldn't have to deal with him. I know he's your brother and blood can be a strong bond, but good lord, you shouldn't have to smack anyone around with an iron for a bit of respect - that's just outrageous at that point.

One of the things that really sounds hypocritical is that while he expects people in "a real family" to attend his kid's events, he still thinks it's ok to beat up other family members - and is proud of it!

I would suggest that you avoid letting him force you to choose sides - if you have to, choose the rest of your family over him. See if you can talk him into seeing a family councilor. Let him know that his behavior is absolutely not acceptable and that he will not be welcome at your home if this horrible behavior continues. Tell him that he doesn't have to like his Dad - just give him a tiny measure of respect for providing for him. (Because imo, he does deserve that for not strangling your brother in his sleep- I probably would have at that point.)

There's probably not going to be an easy solution. It really sucks, but hang in there - I'm glad to offer a sympathetic ear if you ever need to vent. Good luck!

After thinking about this for a while longer, it occurred to me that I give people the benefit of the doubt FAR too often and liberally. It's gotten me into trouble more than once. =/

Tell him to get help or gtfo, call CPS for your (his? Little confused about that) nephew's sake, and cut ties until he can get his act together. Inform the rest of the family so that they're on board and you don't look like the bad guy if he goes whining to them. It's an abusive relationship - physically and emotionally. Don't let him pull you down with him.

Capriox's picture


Suggestions for him: professional therapy and a jail sentence and restraining order each time he physically or verbally assaults someone from here on out.

Suggestions for you: check out what your local assault/battery/domestic abuse type laws are, if not for your sake or your father's, then for the sake of his children and the children's mother(s?). Goodness knows that if he's willing to attack his father and your nephew (and you until you returned the favor), there's no reason he won't do the same to his kids. I'd say everyone who can should absolutely shun this man until it occurs to him that his worldview might be a little skewed and narrow.

Really, he sounds like a hellish basket case that's way beyond the help of just family, friends, and well-meaning amateurs/"backseat drivers" like us here at the forum.

edited: minor typos

MeiLin's picture

Most High

He's a sociopath, my dear, there's really no other way to put it. At this late remove he's not going to change and there's no help for him. Your whole family's best bet is to cut him off as completely as you can without losing access to his kids. You need to keep an eye on his kids at least a little so that if it's clear he's hurting them you can intervene with help from his state's protective services. If he beats one of you up, file an incident report. Your father doesn't need the respect of a man like that. No one does. hugs. Sad

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I hope he has a son, because if that's how he treated his own father, that's how he's going to get served himself.

V's picture


The emotional damage he can do to a dependent far supersedes any pleasant ideas of revenge.

The Which's picture


I read the title of your post, and instantly the urge to one-up bubbled to the surface. Then I read your post.

Wow. I'm sorry. Personally, I think your best bet would to be to get as much distance as possible between yourself and your brother.

Wait... did you gain your brother's respect by knocking him out cold with a hot iron, or is that just an example of what your father would have to do?

Vandole's picture


I believe, by the way the last paragraph was phrased, that was indeed what she did.

I must agree with MeiLin, this man sounds like a sociopath. He seems to view the world in three categories, people who can hurt him, people who can help him, and useless people, and seems to think that others (specifically the OP) should view the world in the same way. I can see him being a ruthless negotiator because of this mindset. His current success only reinforces the value of this thinking in his mind. He doesn't respect his father for the financial aid he provided because he had already established dominance. The aid is, in his mind, what's due to him. He has an extreme alpha male mindset.

As for what needs to be done to make him respect his father, it will be rather difficult. From the information given he seemingly doesn't respect any one unless they've proven that they cannot be pushed around by him. This makes it very difficult to convince him of anything. It would probably require a physically imposing male who can out-debate him. I would like to see this man receive therapy but he will not go willingly and would not take it to heart unless by his parameters the therapist was respectable.

Capriox's picture


Jail time and restraining orders. Police officers are often big imposing guys, and they have guns, and the loss of status/freedom/money and the social shame and humiliation of jail time and restraining orders are the only *legal* thing I can think of that might get through the brother's warped skull. Plus, judges can *make* you go to therapy, which is the only way I see this man getting within stone's throw of a therapy couch.

seia's picture


Based on your post, I'd conclude that he's a basically a bully [read: arrogant, violent prick] that didn't grow out of it. Having the shit beaten out of him a few times when he was younger could have solved the problem (and tought him a little humility), but I doubt there's anything that would change him now.

sherinik's picture


Kids to a bully like this are possessions, only reflected glory, and heaven help them if they fail to conform. I'd seriously be keeping an eye on his domestic situation on their behalf. Their wellbeing ultimately rests with their mother though (I assume she's still around as you didn't mention that he's chased her off). If she's cooperative, a relationship with the children can be maintained without him and around him if need be. Certainly distance is no longer a problem - phone calls, emails, even snail mail still works! Maintaining your father's status as grandparent (and yours as aunt!) is probably going to mean far more to him than any reconciliation with your brother. And if I can offer one small comment from my own experience - the kids do grow up and start seeing things through their own eyes. There comes a day when the kids realise who showed interest and offered support even if they couldn't be physically present. The kids eventually add up Dad's put downs and lack of interest in their lives compared with the effort made to stay in touch long-distance, and the fact that non-present grandparents/aunts know their friends' names, but Dad doesn't.

No, it's not a fight for the kids' affections like there's only so much to go around. If he loses out, it's because he hasn't put the effort in. In fact that goes for all his relationships.

Voyeur's picture

Thank you for the help. So far no one is willing to press charges. He's rarely angry with me as I'm considered essential. He will talk down to me sometimes as he believes, due to his money, that he is better than me. I have a few phrases that shuts him down when he does.

Yes, I really hit him with a hot iron and knocked him out cold. It was the last time we ever got physical in fighting. I was 15, he was 16. He doesn't consciously remember it (he doesn't remember most of his childhood, what he does remember usually involves people other than immediate family), but every now and again I can see brief fear on his face if he gets me yelling angry. It showed me that it was the fastest way to get a bully to back down. I've successfully used similar techniques with jerks trying to rape me (nothing closes out a crappy tip night like watching an attempted rapist crawl out of the back alley yelling for help) at a place I no longer work.

About a year ago he got on my last nerve again by always telling me to 'watch my tone' when talking to him. There was nothing wrong with my tone. So, when his tone didn't suit me I'd tell him to watch it. This usually happened over the phone and would make him irate. I'd calmly tell him that respectful speech goes both ways and I'd talk to him when he calmed down. Then I'd hang up. It took a while, but he backed off some.

Its too late to goto the police as the fight between him and Dad happened years ago. I just found out about it yesterday. I did talk to mom about it and she was aware that it happened, that my brother wasn't 17 yet, and dad let him win because dad's military training in hand to hand combat could of done serious damage to my brother and dad didn't want to hurt him. Dad always went to great lengths not to spank us for misdeeds; he said he never wanted to be a father who hit his children. All of our spankings came from mom.

Nephews refer to his sons. His oldest is 16, or 16 soon. I can't remember which year he was born and he lies about it because he looks older.

It is not possible at this time to avoid my brother. It is my choice and the right one for now. I did avoid him successfully for years, very very peaceful years. Smile

My dad does avoid him, even passing up seeing the grandsons he loves if it means he might see my brother. This spurs my brother on to bad mouth dad more, even to the nephews. Since my sis-in-law has more sway with him, I told her to put a stop to that as it is wrong and shameful to drag those kids into it. So far she's only got him to not talk about it around the youngest, but she's still trying. She believes everything my brother tells her, so she thinks that there is something wrong with dad and he wasn't a good father.

I do keep watch on the kids. The eldest nephew is no peach either. My brother hasn't hit him, not even a spanking, probably because he's always been fighting with his ex over custody. He pick my nephew up, smack him onto the carpet, straddled his chest, and made him apologize. When I talked to my nephew today about it, he said that it didn't hurt, but scared him. He won't tell me what he said to set my brother off, still thinks he's right, and his mom says he wasn't. He also said that he would beat his dad's butt before he goes to college; to show him what a real man is. I told him real men don't beat their fathers to prove themselves or their sons because they don't know an effective way to discipline/gain respect. He gave me the same answer my brother don't understand males.

Thank you all for letting me write about this. I know its stuff that's not easy to read or hear, which is why I try to not bring it up. It's only been two weeks since the last time I accidentally made a friend cry over something in my past. I still feel awful about that. I knew she wasn't prepared to hear the truth, but she was so determined to be a good friend. I know this is the way all my friends learned not to ask for details. I wish they'd warn the new recruits, but they think it's disloyal to talk about my personal stuff. I'm set to entertain the friends in two days and I need to get over the emotions before then.

Davik's picture


Voyeur wrote:
He gave me the same answer my brother don't understand males.

Yeah, as a guy I'm going to go ahead and call that this is an upbringing thing, not a guy thing. I've had my fair number of problems with other people, even a handful of fights, but those were all defense after being struck. I took my dad's ideal to heart: never be the one to get physical first, but if someone attacks you, stand up for yourself and be the one to end it. This is also a basic principle taught in all halfway decent martial arts schools. I even find that I will go way the hell out of my way to avoid someone starting a fight for the simple reason that one particular incident left me really scared about the combination of my mindset with years of martial arts.

On another note, you're not alone in having a screwy family; mine was actually my mom having anger issues. We're mostly okay now (I think she had one of those epiphany moments of realizing just how much stronger I was), but suffice it to say there was a night in high school where, after she broke a phone over my head, I learned that with enough adrenaline I could indeed lift and throw almost twice my body weight with one hand.

I can't say I have any significant insight on how to deal with these things (mine was really just self destructive, wouldn't recommend it), just try to stay out of the fray. My sister just stopped talking to our mother, and it seemed to work for her, but it sounds like you don't have that luxury.

april.raines's picture


If you're really worried about his, and your nephew's, psychological states - and it sounds like you are and with good reason - there's a book called 'Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us' by Dr. Robert Hare. It's sitting at my computer desk - for novel research purposes - but it has many examples and goes through the sorts of behaviours and attitudes they have, and could give you a little insight perhaps. Also, sadly, if he *is* there's no changing him. There's no successful treatment for psychopathy, sadly.

I hope he, or at least your nephew, is just suffering from a bizarre worldview that *something* will change.

PS - psychopath = sociopath, same same

...'s picture

Actually, a psychopath is an extreme version of a sociopath, one that can't be helped as it's raised (excepting extremely good parenting). Sociopaths may or may not be helped, based on their situations growing up.

The Which's picture


Although a few psychologists have suggested there is a difference, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which psychologists use to diagnose people) doesn't even use either term anymore; both are covered under antisocial personality disorder.

april.raines's picture


True, neither are, or I think ever were, in the DSM (the only one I have is the IV, and they aren't in there). Diagnosis would likely be under Antisocial Personality. However, Dr. Hare is a psychologist who did/ does (not up on recent stuff) study psychopaths in particular and developed a tool for recognizing them.

Anyways, my main thought was that the book might give an idea of whether the brother fit into that type of person, or some other type - Anger issues, say - that could be dealt with differently.

The Which's picture


Oh, no, I would agree with you on psycopath, sociopath, same difference. I was responding to

... wrote:
Actually, a psychopath is an extreme version of a sociopath, one that can't be helped as it's raised (excepting extremely good parenting). Sociopaths may or may not be helped, based on their situations growing up.
V's picture


I don't know you or this man, but assuming everything you say is accurate he is a thoroughly dangerous man. I agree with the previous posters who believe he should be in jail. However, as you probably realize, he's not a fool and he has resources.

Plan carefully. Don't go off half-cocked and announce yourself as a committed enemy--because that's how you'll appear, to him. Don't underestimate his ability to term you unessential or his venom if he does. It sounds like he has money, which means lawyers, which means any case has to be ironclad. Don't count on having more than one chance. Record dates, actions, witnesses. Work on getting the support of the rest of the family, but be careful about how it will leak back to him. As time goes on, you'd probably even want legal counsel before making your move.

If you really want to take him down, you have a tough fight ahead of you--I wish you well, for the sake of everyone who has to deal with him--especially his kids. If you've described him accurately, he definitely deserves to be taken down.

TheBoy's picture


if you can't afford counsel, look into local legal aid options.

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