The Scriptures provide us with the first account of sibling 

rivalry. The rivalry between Cain and Abel 

(the sons of Adam and Eve) 

was one of the ultimate examples of sibling rivalry. 

Cain was angry and jealous and murdered his own brother.

Jealousy can lead to some angry and harmful feelings.

Many, if not all, cases of birth-family 

abuse can be traced back 

to jealousy, selfishness, parental partiality 

(real or perceived), or envy in the abuser’s heart.

We know that in the real world sibling rivalry exists, 

but we are often blindsided by it because 

it is the last thing we would expect 

from a family member.

Brothers and sisters argue and fight each other, 

lie and trick each other, 

and generally treat each other horribly at times.

It never feels good... 

in fact, it is very painful to be the target... 

a whipping post for siblings or anyone else. 

It can be very painful being on the receiving end

of another person’s verbal assaults. 

Words laced with poison can be just as emotionally 

and/or spiritually excruciating as physical blows, 

and those that hurl words as a weapon 

are often quite skilled at using them.

My siblings seem to constantly assume 

I am the rightful catch-all for 

anger, criticism, and judgment. 

To my siblings, it seems that the name “Carole” 

is synonymous with “whipping post”.

Apparently, they do not realize that their words and deeds 

have an impending doom. 

They are blinded by the god of this world 

(2 Cor. 4:3–4),

 bound in darkness (Col. 1:13, Acts 26:18),

 and caught in Satan’s snare (2 Tim. 2:25–26).

The biggest bullies are often 

toxic family members.

And bullying is never OK.  


We tend to think of bullying as something that happens 

in the schoolyard amongst kids 

who are being mean and abusive to one another. 

However, as incredible as it might seem,

verbal abuse and emotional abuse 

through power, control, domination, 

subjugation, and relentless 

sibling rivalry 

are the weapons of choice for 

some family members 

to gain control over others.

There are families who have scapegoated a loved one 

from childhood, into and including adulthood.

One’s family of origin can target one member for 

accusations, blame, criticism, and ostracism. 

They belittle, excommunicate, and slander, 

in an attempt to assassinate another’s character.

Why would a family choose a loved one 

to bully and scapegoat? 

Scapegoating is often a way for 

families to hide problems 

that they cannot face. 

At times the scapegoat is targeted by the sibling 

who was always the bully of the family. 

In that way, the less favored sibling 

becomes the repository 

of everything that is wrong in the family.

It’s sometimes right to defend your reputation 

before those who have slandered you. 

However, it is possible, when the scapegoat argues 

and pleads their innocence before the family… 

they can sometimes find themselves 

further blamed and persecuted.

No one has the right to assault who we are as a person.  

Sadly, some people just won’t be happy 

until they’ve pushed  our self-esteem to the ground 

and stomped on it. 

It takes a great deal of courage to stand up 

to your enemies, but just as much to stand up 

to your family.  

Sometimes bullying comes from the most 

unlikely places.  

Be cognizant of how the people closest to you 

treat you, and look out for the 

subtle jabs they throw.