Q. Hello! I come from slightly abusive family (constant verbal abuse and slight physical also) and I have 2 brothers. One of them grew up without seeing any violence before the second one started receiving it. In the past few months, every time someone in the family starts screaming angrily at my little brother (5y-o) and it’s really raging, I get this urge to hurt the brother- push him down the stairs or beat him up. I love my little brother a lot and I could never hurt someone, but I’m so scared of those urges turning into reality. I do blame the brother for what he has done, but I blame others more for raising him up this way; but I don’t understand where the urges come from. I get an image of the situation and right when I snap out of it I start wondering what’s wrong with me, why am I like this. I am a suicidal person, but it’s hard for me to get help right now, but this is only mentioned to maybe get some clearance in my head for why this is happening. Thank you a lot! I really appreciate your time.

A. You described your family as being only “slightly” abusive. They might be more than “slightly” abusive. It’s possible that a more accurate characterization might be that they are “significantly” abusive.

Many people underestimate the effects of psychological abuse. Verbal abuse is psychological abuse (also known as emotional abuse) and it can be quite detrimental to one’s mental state. For some, psychological abuse is more damaging than other types of abuse, physical or other. Studies have shown that it can lead to depression, anxiety, hypersensitivity, and physical aggression. Emotional scars can be long lasting.

Having been a victim of psychological abuse might explain your anger and aggression towards your brother. The fact that you consider yourself a “suicidal person” further supports the notion that you have been negatively impacted by the abuse in your family. It’s unusual and alarming to be suicidal. It’s worrisome and it warrants immediate intervention from a mental health professional.

You wrote that it is difficult for you to get help, but you did not say why. No matter what circumstances you are facing, you should try to get help. Emotional abuse is linked to the aforementioned conditions and may be the reason why you feel the way you do.

Thankfully, effective treatments exist and can assist you in making positive changes to both your environment and your psychological health. Speak to your school guidance counselor about the abuse in your home. They might be able to help you directly or connect you with outside referrals for treatment. If that’s not an option, then speak to a trusted adult family member and ask for their assistance.

Don’t hesitate to call emergency services if you feel that you might harm yourself or someone else. They will know how to help you and to keep you and your family safe.

One final option is to contact child protective services. Google “child protective services” and your zip code to find a local phone number. They will come to your home, assess your safety and protect you and your siblings from abuse. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle