upport AboutIslam in the Best 10 Days of the Year

After Dad’s Death, My Brother Is Mentally Torturing Us

18 November, 2017
Q My brother is mentally torturing me and all my family members after the death of my father. He keeps on spying us all the time, abuses us, threating our lives, he sometimes even asks us to leave the home and go working. He does not allow any relative to visit us and he continuously abuses them as well. He always talks about money but doesn't do anything himself. He has a strange and complicated personally and makes us confused as well. People say that maybe he is a psychiatric patient, but we are not sure about it. No one wants to take him to the doctor as he becomes violent. Please, tell me what I should do. We are living in an environment of fear all the time.



Wa ‘Alaikum As-Salam,

You appear to be in a very difficult and scary situation.  I do not have enough information to assess if your brother has a mental disorder or a personality disorder.  An individual can have both.  However, since you brother is not willing to go to a doctor, and you are in a dangerous situation, then it would be best if you discussed this situation with your family and develop a strategy for reaching out to your extended family members and moving to a safe place.  The most important priority is safety.

There may be many contributing factors to your brother’s behaviors from grief to the feeling of being the only responsible party with the entire burden of caring for the family resting on his shoulders.  He may have pride as a man and not be able to ask for help without feeling like a failure.  He may be using substances/drugs.  There are many possibilities.  It does sound as if he is confused about whether he wants his family members to work outside the home or not.  Yet, there might be an economic necessity that you do.  This might be affecting his self-image as it seems that he perceives himself to be the person in charge and responsible for the family home and the family members.

Do not attempt to change your brother at this time.  Try to avoid discussions that will lead to arguments, even if you know that you are right and that he is wrong.  Pointing that out to a person who is upset for whatever reason will not produce favorable results.  Be kind to your brother if possible and do some of the little things that will make him feel safe and nurtured.  It is very likely that whatever is wrong, he is in a lot of pain. I am not condoning abuse.  It can be empowering and helpful to understand this about someone who is acting out.

Ads by Muslim Ad Network

If your brother does have a mental illness, he is probably also in a lot of emotional and psychological pain.  If you brother is using drugs, then likewise, he is probably suffering from emotional and psychological pain.  You brother is also likely experiencing very low self-esteem and is questioning his own worth and abilities; he probably does not feel very confident, and he is also likely suffering from a deep grief over the loss of his father.  These emotions combined with the very real fears that accompany a sense of financial, physical and psychological responsibility for a family after a head of household has died can be extremely overwhelming.  A person can behave in ways that appear as if he is mentally ill, when in fact the stress of his circumstances are just so extreme that he become very overwhelmed and cannot keep himself together to the point where he experiences psychological crisis. Again, I do not know your current situation, but this is food for thought.

If you can get out of the home safely, please get counseling for yourself and your family.  Please develop a strategy for getting yourself safe.  I do not know about the region that you are in, but there might be help for you if you can reach out.  You might also consider moving in with another relative if you can do this safely. A domestic violence situation cannot be treated online or through advice.  You must see someone who knows and understands the area that you are in and who has an idea of what kind of support and help is available; someone who can sit with you and listen to all of the details and who can facilitate your process of getting safe.

In the meantime, you might want to practice your coping skills so that you can regulate your own emotions.  By doing this, you will be able to keep your own mind clear so that you can make the right decisions when you need to.  Make sure you are eating healthy food, getting enough sleep, drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water daily, and taking several deep breaths throughout the day.

Ads by Muslim Ad Network

When things are very tense in a domestic violence situation, it is good to check your body for tightness and to consciously relax each body muscle starting with your head, then your face, and neck, shoulders, arms, hands, back etc. until you are down to your toes.  This can take from 30 minutes to an hour.  Doing this every day will give both your mind and body a mini break from the tension, and might help you to sleep better so that you can have a clear mind.

Walking and talking to someone who you trust is also often very helpful.  The point is that you must take care of yourself so that you can keep yourself in condition to deal with things until you know your next step.  And then you will be able to take that next step with a clear and decisive mind when you know it is time.

I wish I could give you more advise and tell you exactly what to do, but in cases of violence it is not a wise approach.  Again, I strongly encourage you to seek counseling and get help from both counselors and family members as soon as you possibly can.

With that said, please do not forget to pray and to ask Allah for guidance and help in this matter.  Your life is very important to He that Created You.  Allah is our Rabb (Lord) and our only true source of safety.  Always turn to Allah for His light.  My heart is truly with you, and I will also keep you in my prayers.  Please keep us posted.



Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

About Maryam Bachmeier
Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant in the areas of mental health, cultural, and relationship issues.