My Brother Is Doing 50 Years In Prison For Harming A Child, But I Still Love Him

Her Voice

We all have family members who choose the wrong direction and consequently land in the hands of society. My family isn't any different. My older brother has spent the bulk of his life in prison. So many times, I see people post things about freeing their family members or friends, but you'll never see me do that for my brother. In my whole heart, he's where he should be, and I'm safer with him being there.

My brother has been in and out of the system since he was a teenager. This is his second time in prison, and he was sentenced 55 years in prison for harm to a child. The last time we saw him was 13-14 years ago. My mom and younger brother reached out and tried to visit him, but always came to bumps in the road, just like this last time. They drove all the way to Huntsville, TX, only for my older brother to get into a gang fight right when my mom was checking in to visit him.

I know you're reading this like, What kind of family doesn't see their family member for over a decade? Honestly, I'm not keen on seeing him because the scared little girl that I used to be still surfaces when I think of him. All I can think is:

It could have been my son.

Whenever I think of my older brother, I see this evil person who still scares me even in his absence. When I thought he was going to be getting out soon, I was extremely scared. I only felt comfortable with sharing my feelings with my oldest sister, who used to be our protector from him. When things went left between her mom and our dad, she stopped coming over and it was a wrap for us. By that, I mean me, because I was the one he seemed to torture and hate the most.

Growing up with him was pure hell and I hated when my parents would leave to go to work because this was his opportunity to be the evil villain he embraced. I'm starting to cry just thinking about it. This wasn't your typical "big brother" bullying.

When no one was around, he enjoyed beating us or finding other mental manipulative strategies to make us fear him, and it worked. I can remember sitting at a table crying because he would purposely fix me everything he knew I didn't eat and threatened that if I didn't eat it, I would get beat. I remember crying trying to force myself to eat and jumping at any slight noise because I knew he was coming around the corner with his evil laugh.

I'd get beat from him, and then my mom would come home and whoop us all because he'd come up with some lie. My mom didn't want to believe that her oldest son was a lying sack of shit, so she did what most parents did back then—whooped us all.

One experience that I've never shared with anyone except my oldest sister just the other day, was the time he climbed on top of me and pinned my arms down in my bed. He didn't do anything sexual to me, but I knew it wasn't right that he was straddled on top of me holding my arms down, threatening he'd do something further to me if I made a sound because everyone was in the front living room. He stayed on top of me for about a minute or so, and I just laid there. Without my oldest sister coming over on the weekends, I felt helpless.

I endured every beating and evil act until my sister gave me inner courage to stand up for myself like she did.

I'll never forget the morning I took back my power. My best friend's mom used to pick me up for school, but this time they were running a little late. Well, that wasn't flying with my brother. He wanted me gone. He was adamant about making me catch the bus, which I hated doing because I'd get interrogated by the bus driver since I didn't ride frequently.

After I told him I wasn't riding the bus and went to the restroom to finish getting ready. While fixing my hair, I heard the restroom door fly open in anger. The way my brother looked at me still stings me in my stomach. He rushed in and grabbed me by my head, then started slinging me all around, but this time I made it my business to fight back. We were in there tussling.

I was losing the fight, but I was winning the war of not letting him hit me without defending myself. The last thing I remembered was him having me pinned down on the bathroom floor and me swinging wildly trying to get up until the car honked from outside. He got off of me, laughing with that evil laugh he'd do whenever he'd torture me.

I left my house that day house feeling empowered and stronger. No longer was I that weak little girl. Did the torture stop? No. But I fought back every time. It wasn't until he actually got locked up and sent away the first time that I could actually breathe and live freely in the house.

It finally felt like home without him there.

Unfortunately, that fear still reigns heavily inside of me. I'm terrified for him to get out. On top of him being evil growing up, he took it upon himself to begin worshipping the devil and getting demons tattooed on him while in prison. Who knows what he is capable of doing?

I know I shouldn't be scared of someone, but I can't help it. This is something that I am still working on trying to heal from, and it's not an easy thing when you have lied to yourself for years that you actually loved your brother. There was no way I could love someone who treated me so horribly. Funny, but my relationship with my brother is how all my relationships were.

I feel like I never had a chance of having healthy relationships with men because deep inside I expected to be treated like shit because I was used to it and continued to allow it because it seemed "normal."

It's true that your childhood reflects heavily in your adulthood.

Despite my true feelings for my brother, I don't want anything bad to happen to him. I pray for God to heal him internally because I hate seeing my mom beat herself inside about what she did wrong. I'm a mother, so I understand her pain.

I still don't want to see him and prefer him in there versus out here.

I will continue to pray that I can fully heal from all the damage he has caused me. At times, I feel robbed of experiencing the "big brother" relationship that I've heard so much about. He did evil and damaging things to me as a child that still haunt me as a woman.

I'm still healing from it all and asking the Lord to remove the hate that I had buried inside. I'm working on pushing through my trauma, and eventually my torturer will no longer have this hold over me.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissons@xonecole.com

Featured image by Giphy

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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