It’s no big secret that the way Petunia and Vernon Dursley treated Harry Potter is pretty awful. They were overall very hateful and never wanted to have to take care of Harry. While they might have met a few of his basic needs, they were resentful about it the whole time. In a variety of ways, they were both neglectful and abusive. When reading back on the books, the things that the Dursleys do are pretty hard to swallow and completely unacceptable.
There are a lot of things the Dursleys have done wrong, but these are the ten worst.
10 RAISING DUDLEY TO BE A BULLY BY GIVING HIM EVERYTHING HE WANTED
When Dumbledore first meets Dudley, he remarks that the Dursleys have damaged Dudley even worse than Harry. While this might be debatable, the truth is that Dudley was spoiled to his determined.
By never acting like Dudley did anything wrong or giving him any discipline, he grew to be a huge bully. Luckily, it seems as an adult Dudley managed to have a small amount of compassion despite his parents, and he probably turned out better than would be expected in spite of his parents not because of them.
9 GIVING HARRY PRESENTS LIKE HANGERS AND TRASH
As mentioned above, Dudley was an extremely spoiled child. In fact, the first time we are introduced to him in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, he is complaining that he only has 36 birthday presents. While Dudley gets spoiled with all the latest toys and technology, Harry is lucky if his birthday is acknowledged at all. He often gets gifts like hangers and an old sock. Giving him such horrible gifts when they give Dudley so much is just cruel.
8 JUDGING OTHER PEOPLE SUCH AS ARTHUR WEASLEY
Another big problem with both of the Dursleys is that they are extremely judgemental. It’s mentioned many times that Petunia spends a lot of her day spying on the neighbors and talking bad about them.
Vernon also judges people based on things like their clothes and what car they drive. He is extremely disparaging of people he deems as less than him such as Arthur Weasley.
7 VERBALLY ABUSING HARRY
It’s hard to pick some of the worst things that the Dursleys have done to Harry because they never treated him kindly at all. Overall, one of the biggest problems as how they talked to him and about him.
They would always compare him to Dudley and talk about him in negative ways. Also, there were multiple times that they would talk about him in front of him acting as if he wasn’t even there. Never giving a child any positivity or love is definitely abusive.
6 ABANDONING HARRY AT A BUSY TRAIN STATION WHEN HE WAS ONLY ELEVEN
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how young Harry actually is in the books. When he is only eleven years old, he learns about Hogwarts. When the Dursleys drive him to King's Cross Station and find out he has to get on a platform that doesn’t exist, they laugh at him and leave him there. If things hadn’t worked out, Harry Could have been stranded there. Their callous attitude about this is appalling.
5 LETTING AUNT MARGE BULLY HIM
While the Dursleys might have been cruel and neglectful, they at least let Harry just stay out of their way most of the time. They didn’t really want him around, so he was often able to just stay out of sight.
However, Aunt Marge liked to have him close by and would spend the entire time saying bad things about him. There was also the time she let her dogs chase him up a tree and let the dogs stay there for hours so Harry couldn’t come down. This was when he was even younger than eleven, and it’s a very gross thing to do to a kid.
4 MAKING HARRY LIVE IN THE CUPBOARD UNDER THE STAIRS FOR MOST OF HIS LIFE
One of the cruelest and unusual things the Dursleys did to Harry is something we learn about right away. Even though they always had a spare bedroom in the house, they forced Harry to live in a cramped cupboard under the stairs. This goes to show the type of regard they have for him as they treated him even worse than a pet. While this is presented as bad but somewhat funny in the books, it’s really awful when you think about it.
3 MANY INSTANCES OF ANIMAL ABUSE
While all the ways the Dursleys treated Harry are some of the worst things they’ve done, the way they treat animals is also awful. It’s talked about in the books that in the spare bedroom that became Harry’s room there were cages for animals that had been killed by Dudley. Plus, they would force Harry to look Hedwig up and keep her from being able to fly and hunt like she needed to.
2 LOCKING HARRY IN HIS ROOM DURING CHAMBER OF SECRETS
After Harry is blamed for Dobby dropping Petunia’s pudding, the Dursley’s do one of the cruelest things. They lock Harry in his room and only let him out to use the bathroom. They only feed him small amounts of food through the door and have no intention of letting him go free.
This is unacceptable to do to anyone ever, but this is even worse when you consider Harry was only twelve years old at the time.
1 VERNON PHYSICALLY ABUSING HARRY IN ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
While emotional and verbal abuse and neglect can be just as damaging as physical abuse in many ways, physical abuse is awful and scary. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Vernon tries strangles Harry after he thinks that Harry has just done magic. Luckily, Harry’s innate magic makes it so Vernon let's go like he’s been shocked. However, the fact that Vernon would lay hands on Harry Like this is very troubling.