10.06.2011

Sibling Sexual Abuse: How Big Of A Problem Is This? Part III



By Lawrence W. Daly

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It is an intense situation where one sibling is sexually abusing a younger sibling.  The sibling sexual abuse is unnoticed by the parents, the other siblings and other relatives, friends, peers and schoolmates.  The secrecy, which surrounds sibling sexual abuse, is of much concern to the local law enforcement agency.  The law enforcement agency believes that educating children how to protect themselves is important.  Their hope is to reduce the sexual victimization, which is occurring in many homes in their community.  Leaving the responsibility in providing children with sexual education are their parents.  However, law enforcement agencies wants to take it a step further and provide sex education to children under the age of 18 years of age.  So today, you are the audience, and welcome to learning what to do if a sibling sexually assaults you.

The first tidbit is that sibling sexual abuse is not owned by boys or girls.  It is unknown specifically how much sibling sexual abuse occurs.  Child advocates want you to believe that one out of three or four girls are sexually abused.  This ratio has been around for the past five decades.  In my professional opinion there needs to be a different method of where and how researchers receive their information.  If you analyze each year’s statement about who is being abused, who is doing the abuse, what does this mean to our society, how can we better equip our youth with the knowledge and understanding of why sibling sexual abuse is harmful and simply wrong.

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The second tidbit is that sibling sexual abuse is that parents can diminish the possibilities of having siblings sexually abusing one another if they would take the time to find out what is going on in their children’s lives.  If the parents would expend just a few minutes a day paying attention to their children, this would be one of the first steps in getting control of their children.  The parent needs to select a time of the day and ask the children what they did the day before, the night, at school and so forth.  Inquiring what the children are doing when they are in and out of school will produce answers to the many questions parents need to be asking.  Children will have their individual way of communicating, especially at the earlier ages and parents need to know how to obtain the relevant and necessary information.

The third tidbit is that sibling sexual abuse can be physically harmful to the sibling who is being sexually abused by the old sibling.  Potential sexual transmitting diseases (STDs) should be a concern by parents and authority figures.  If the older sibling is having sexual relationships with multiple partners, the possibility of contracting STDs should be evaluated.

The fourth tidbit is that sibling sexual abuse can be traumatic to the younger sibling.  If the older sibling is physically punishing the younger sibling to comply with his/her sexual advancements, this can be emotionally, mentally, and physically detrimental to the younger sibling.

The fifth tidbit is that sibling sexual abuse can be criminal if the gap between the siblings is three to five years.  The statue may read any child who is twelve and above and the child is seven and below, it may be a crime.  The other element of sibling abuse that needs to be considered is if the older sibling used force, coercion, injury, or penetration occurs.  The criteria of force and/or coercion may be the most highly associated with negative outcomes, regardless of the specific sexual behavior (e.g. kissing, fondling, simulated intercourse, or exhibition) experienced (Haugaard and Tilly, 1988).

The sixth tidbit is that sibling sexual abuse research has demonstrated that physical abuse can be associated with the sibling sexual abuse.  Additionally, some young female siblings have experienced teen pregnancy, have run away, and have attempted suicide when compared to the average teen.

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The seventh tidbit is that sibling sexual abuse is likely to occur 23% of the time, according to girls who entered treatment (Edwall, Hoffman; Russell, 1986).  Additionally, younger siblings were more likely to abuse substances in general, but alcohol and stimulants were typically their drugs of choice, and they often started abusing alcohol by the age of 9 years.

The eight tidbit is that where sibling sexual abuse occurs people respond poorly once the abuse is discovered.  According to Wiehe, 1997, “Effects are not always equivalent to the severity of abuse.  It is important to remember that even one incident of inappropriate behavior can be equally damaging as more severe or frequent abuse.  Shortly after the initial abuse occurs, the child may exhibit behavioral problems.  These can include but are not limited to depression, aggression, sleep and somatic complaints, hyperactivity, sexual problems, anxiety, psychotic disorders, and suicidal thoughts and attempts.”

The ninth tidbit is that sibling sexual abuse can be devastating to the younger sibling.  Later in life, it may be difficult for the younger sibling to have normal interpersonal relationships and relationships with the gender of the offender.  The younger sibling has a difficult time in trusting other and sometimes they have problems with anger.  The emotional scaring, which occurs at such a young age, can catapult the younger sibling into adulthood where the same fears still exists.  Sibling sexual abuse does not mean the siblings were having a great time growing up.  As stated earlier it is all about control and power.

The tenth tidbit is that sibling sexual abuse can cause sexual dysfunction.  In addition, siblings who were abused sometimes turn to promiscuity and/or avoidance of sexual relationships.  The emotional and psychological problems can create depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Many of the survivors are suffering from these disorders because after the first sexual assault, they had to begin a mental strategy, which would take them away from living and reliving the sexual assaults.

Tomorrow, I will continue my plight through the research, which has been conducted by many professionals over the past four decades.  In the early 1990’s there were many disclosures about all of the siblings who were being abused by other siblings.  It has taken small steps in the field of mental health to isolate and identify sibling sexual abuse and the effects on the sibling victim.  I will not take credit for the information in this article.  The information I have gathered over the years from those who came before me deserve the credit.  In order to provide you with a wealth of information I have to rely on other experts and their research to allow you to understand what sibling sexual abuse is about.
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