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Worried Girlfriend

Published: July 31, 2015
Dear TeenHealthFX,

Hi FX, my girlfriend (who was my best friend before we started dating) recently told me that her younger brother by a year likes to beat her because he's larger and stronger than she is. The most recent attack on her was him pinning her to the ground by her throat and telling her "he's manhandling her and she can't do anything. She's 18 now and moving 3 hours away from home for college at the end of summer, but the thought of her staying in that toxic home is painful and worrisome. My father is a deputy sheriff of our local police department and I informed her that if her brother approached her while I'm near, I would tell him that my father is an officer and if he ever hurt her again I would call the police. She says he has ADD and possibly another mental issue but refuses to take medication for it, and it makes him hyper aggressive, often leading him to push around their mother when she's physically weak from a headache or backache. I'm not really sure what I can do because she plans on moving away, but I'm really tempted to call the police on him, even though I live 30 minutes away from her. It would mean a lot if you could answer this... Sincerely, Worried Girlfriend


Dear Worried Girlfriend,

Your friend’s younger brother has no right to put his hands on his sister or anyone else for that matter. By using his logic, it would be perfectly fine for him to be assaulted by someone who is “bigger and stronger” then him. It is doubtful he would support his tormentor’s right to attack him if the roles were reversed. Your girlfriend sounds conflicted because it is her brother and it has led her to make excuses for him. ADD is not generally associated with poor organizational skills and inattentive behavior not violence. Any possible “mental issue,” does not excuse him from taking responsibility for his behavior. He has been working with a doctor, but refuses to take medication that was prescribed to help him.

 

It would be good for you to look at this from a slightly different perspective. Forget that it is her brother who has been assaulting her. If this was a stranger assaulting your girlfriend would this make the decision easier. It might make it less complicated but under the law, an assault is an assault and her brother would face consequences. The charges would be the same, just the details would change. Right now her brother is still a minor and would be processed through the juvenile system. The juvenile system is predicated on rehabilitation and could provide an appropriate intervention. It all changes at 18, then its main focus is punishment.

 

The best thing for your girlfriend is to talk to her parent’s about the situation. Her parent’s need to make sure the environment is safe when she is home. She can also share her concerns about her brother. If he does not learn that his behavior is inappropriate and unjustified, he will eventually find out the hard way. It would be great if he was able to learn this before something happens that he can’t take back or be undone.

 

You could also talk with your father about this. Aside from the law aspect he might have some understanding on how to approach the situation. You might be amazed at the amount of insight he may gained from responding to calls of a “family disturbance.”

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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