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Abusive Relations

July 9, 2009
Eve Hogan

Dear Eve,
I have a sibling who is really verbally abusive and was physically abusive to me when we were growing up. I moved as far away physically as I could, but he continues to call me, text me and email me. I am so tired of being beat up by him. How can I get him to stop harassing me?

When I was a kid I remember telling my dad about another kid who was saying mean things to me. He said, “If someone gives you a gift and you don’t take it, it is still theirs.” He pretended he was giving me a box, which I habitually reached out for. He showed me my inclination to accept whatever someone hands me. Instead, he stopped me from taking the box to reveal that if I don’t receive what he is dishing out, he is the one still holding it.

So, while you can’t get your sibling to stop attempting to abuse you, you can stop allowing him to be successful in his attempts. All you ultimately have to do is stop answering the phone, and stop opening his texts or his emails. All you really have to do is stop receiving the abuse.

In this case, you have moved away physically, but you have not moved away mentally or emotionally, thus you have enabled him to continue to harm you. I invite you to consider what you are getting out of this drama. That is a funny statement, but there is usually some “benefit” to the way we allow ourselves to be treated. While this often isn’t really a “benefit,” it is the result that you receive from staying involved with someone. For some, there is the unconscious belief that any attention is better than no attention. For others who were raised on abuse, abuse and love can get confused. (He abuses me, therefore he loves me.)

Sometimes it reinforces our belief systems. For instance, if you have an unconscious belief that you are undeserving of love or healthy relationships, your sibling’s abuse continues to offer you proof, thus allowing you to perpetuate your limiting beliefs. Sometimes the “benefit” is the continuation of a story that has made up your image of who you are. If you see yourself as a victim and tell everyone you are a victim, then your sibling reinforces your ability to tell the story, over and over again. This doesn’t seem like a “benefit” because it isn’t positive, but this reinforces who you think you are.

You also may be continuing to allow this to happen because you are afraid of losing the dream of a healthy relationship. Often, whether it is a romantic relationship or family tie, we hold onto a dream about how we wish the relationship would be, even though it is not. We then try desperately to keep our illusion alive, even though the relationship doesn’t resemble reality at all. Staying in contact with your sibling may be keeping your dream alive of a healthy family. I invite you to see if you can identify what the “benefit” is, and then see if you can either let go of that need or replace it with means of fulfilling the need in a healthy way.

Sometimes we need to energetically “cut the ties” to people who are not healthy for us. To do this, visualize yourself and your sibling and any ties between you. For some this may be a thread-like connection, for others huge ropes or chains. These are akin to an umbilical cord but on an energy level, rather than physical. When you are ready, I invite you to cut them. This does not have to mean cutting a person or any love out of your life; rather, this is about cutting the codependent attachments to the other person. This does huge things for you symbolically. Just like cutting an umbilical cord, by severing the ties, you set yourself free to be self-sustaining. Then, any connection you have to the other person will be by choice—rather than unconscious ties. Ultimately, the goal is to set yourself free.

With Aloha,

Intellectual Foreplay Question of the Week:
What are you getting out of your drama?

Love Tip of the Week:
When you don’t want to play the game, stop throwing the dice.

Eve Hogan, author of How to Love Your Marriage, Intellectual Foreplay, Virtual Foreplay, and Way of the Winding Path, is also the proprietor of The Sacred Garden, a nursery and healing sanctuary in Makawao. It is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For coaching or speaking events, call (808) 573-7700. Website: Blog: Send questions to



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