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TROUBLESHOOTER / My sister, abused by our father, abuses my mother

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female student in my teens. I need help resolving discord within my family.

I’m the youngest of four children in my family. My two brothers have moved away for work and university. My elder sister works as a regular employee, but continues to live at home.

Our father abused my sister when she was in elementary school, slapping her in the face and often throwing her out of the house, even during winter or at night. My parents later reflected on this abuse and apologized to her.

Now, she commands our family and complains about all manner of things. She argues mostly with our mother. At such times, she snarls, “I’ll kill you,” or shouts in tears, “Give me back my life!”

It’s difficult to watch our mother abused verbally and occasionally physically by my sister. I become angry and irritated when I think of my hatred for my sister, the lack of peace at home and my inability to change my family.

Is there any way to bring harmony to my family? Please tell me what I need to do.

B, Shiga Prefecture

Dear Ms. B:

I understand how hard your daily life is. You have not been able to resolve your family’s problems, and you need to find a way to deal with them.

Time with one’s family should be an opportunity to relax, unwind and let your guard down while still feeling protected. Your home, however, is an exhausting place. You’re always on edge as problems could arise at any moment. In a way, you suffer from “spiritual malnutrition.”

These problems encompass your entire family; you alone cannot resolve them. Only by altering the relationships within your family can a solution emerge.

In my opinion, you should leave your home for a while.

Specifically, you should find a job or pursue higher education in a distant town to escape your circumstances. If you are uneasy about living on your own, you can ask your parents for temporary financial support.

Your sister may have been unhappy to see you grow up innocently. Your brothers also seem to have run away from your challenging family situation.

If they come home on a regular basis to check in on your family instead of you — the four of you just change your places — then the atmosphere at your home must somewhat change. If things remain as they are, however, you’ll be crushed.

Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher

(from Aug. 5, 2018, issue)Speech

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