Category Archives: mental abuse

Does a sibling have a right to know if his brother is alive or dead?

I have heard nothing from my brother or his wife since May, for three months.  At that time he was receiving chemotherapy for cancer, after radiation and then massive surgery had failed.

Does a sister-in-law have the right to withhold such information from her huband’s brother?

I think the answer depends on what moral universe you live in.

If a person acknowledges no higher power, no god or siritual force in the universe, then what is to prevent her from withholding information on my brother’s medical commission, or indeed blocking communications between us?

In a person who acknowledges no higher moral values, the answer may be a whim, or an imagined injury she never revealed to you or gave you a chance to examine whether you were morally to blame, or not.

In such a moral universe, there are no restraints.  Judgments fueled by imagination and alcohol and who knows what emotions may be allowed to grow, like some dark fruit, while the accused is not advised of the crimes with which he is charged, has no right to discuss the “evidence” if any, and in any event has already been convicted before any charges were brought.

If you live in a moral universe with values according to which such actions are shockingly wrong and immoral, but are dealing with a sister-in-law who lives in a different kind of moral universe, what would you do?

What coukd you do?

Do you have the right to know when your brother dies, or even the right to attend his funeral?

What right?

What would or could you do?


An abused sibling

Tales of Abuse: “Why my brother didn’t attend my funeral”

Sometimes, when a person is being abused, particularly when a person is being abused by a sibling, that person must speak out and denounce the abuse.

If you are being abused, like a child being abused in a woodshed who is threatened with greater harm if he or she tells anyone, the abuse must be denounced, uncovered, exposed to the light of day and to the opinions of other people.

We start our Tales of Abuse tonight with an entry from Tim, who has been suffering abuse from his brother and sister-in-law.  Comments and suggestions for Tim are welcome.

Here is Tim’s tale


“Why my brother didn’t attend my funeral”

My brother, Matt, and his wife, Zoe, did not attend my funeral.

This may seem curious.  Let me explain.

Matt, has been suffering from cancer for a year.  He underwent radiation therapy last March, massive surgery last July, and then chemotherapy in January, days after I traveled across the country to see him.  Since then, he and his wife, Zoe, have refused to answer any of my telephone calls, messages, e-mails or letters, with no explanation to me.

My parents are dead, and my younger sister died in a fire in her condo many years ago.  I have no family except for Matt and Zoe.

About a month ago I learned indirectly from Zoe’s sister-in-law and brother that Matt was upset when he received a call from his friend and former boss, Alan, telling him about a meeting I had set up with Alan to discuss a debt (and also meet with someone who knew Matt well).  According to Zoe, as reported through her bother and sister-in-law, Matt recalled that he had threatened me 15 years earlier that if I ever talked to Alan he would never speak to me again.

I have no memory of that threat, which if ever made would have been extremely abusive.  I never said anything negative about Matt to Alan.

So, it is mid-April, and still I have no word on the physical or mental condition of my brother Matt, or that of his wife Zoe.

It was a call from Alan which apparently was the trigger for Matt and Zoe to erase me from their memories.  I don’t know what Zoe or Matt said to him, but Alan canceled our meeting redirecting what I assume was their anger, toward me.

Matt’s and Zoe’s shunning of me since January has caused me great distress, because I love my brother, who is five years older than I am.  I always looked up to him, at least until now.

Their shunning me seems, and feels, extraordinarily abusive. There are two aspects to this abuse.

The first is the incredible mental cruelty and abuse represented by failing to share with me information about Matt’s mental and physical condition, and cutting off all contact with me. This abuse is repeated every day, and every day I wake up with the pain of not knowing how Matt is doing, or even if he is conscious or alive.

The second aspect of their abuse has dawned on me only slowly.

Matt and Zoe seem to be trying to commit one final and horrendous act of abuse against me, in effect sending me a “death curse” while erasing me from their consciousness.

By erasing me and my existence from their consciousness, they have in effect “killed “me in their hearts and minds.

It is very much as if I have died, and they have decided that they will not attend my funeral.

So, in short, this is the tale of how my love for my brother is being repaid by repeated and monstrous abuse.

This is why my brother and his wife will not be attending my funeral. In their minds, I am already gone.

This is a sorry tale. Matt’s and my parents were honorable people, despite their flaws.  They raised us in a world of moral values, imparted both at school and at church.

Yet it is also a cautionary tale.  This story must be told, even though it will bring shame on Matt and Zoe, and their families.  Those who abuse others depend on the silence of their victims to get away with the abuse. It is like the abuse of a child in a woodshed, who is threatened with greater harm if he or she tells anyone.

No victim should be cowed by such a threat.

For it is the actions of monstrous abuse, not the telling of the tale, that is the source of shame.