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

By Lawrence W. Daly

Sometimes people will ask if the sibling sexual abuse of today is as predominate as it was 40 years ago. This is a great question to evaluate and examine however the answers are difficult and complicated to answer and then to compare. Many years ago, people didn’t talk about sibling sexual abuse. Siblings were afraid to say anything about the sexual abuse to their parents as they knew the disclosure would be harmful to the family and possibly to them. If there was a disclosure of sibling sexual abuse, it remained within the family. Issues like sibling sexual abuse were handled with in the family. Bringing in outside authority figures was not something that normally occurred.

The lack of disclosure still exists today, but children and parents are educated and their senses should be heightened to the fact that inside the nuclear family sibling sexual abuse is something that needs to be monitored. As a parent one doesn’t wake up and think, is there sibling sexual abuse occurring in my house? However, as concerning as it may sound, sibling sexual abuse does occur in approximately 23% of the homes across America. So parents need to be cognizant that in one out of four homes, sibling sexual abuse is a possibility.

Two Siblings - Intense.jpgYears ago, the problem was present but to what degree did it exists and how does it compare to today’s sibling sexual abuse, as a society this will be one of those dark secrets that will never be known. Studies weren’t conducted and pursued, people didn’t come forward and the disclosure process was not supported by those outside the family. A sibling could find themselves in a world of hate, deceit, anger, depression and loneliness. There was no guarantee that if the sibling told there would be a change within their world. Parents generally protected the older sibling who was committing the sexual abuse, because they would rather deny that it was happening then to confront the problem head on.

You want to believe that things have changed and today society as a whole have become less tolerant of those who attempt to intimidate, manipulate, control and use their age and strength to sexually assault another sibling. The statistic does not lie and sibling sexual abuse is a problem just as it was yesterday, it exists and needs to be dealt with. According to several researchers, it is estimated that approximately 15% of all people report some kind of sexual activity with a sibling in childhood. More specifically, studies have shown that between 2% (Leder, 1991) and 4% (Finkelhor, 1999) of people have been sexually victimized by a sibling as the sexual contact involved some degree of forced or coercive activity.

The degree to how sibling sexual abuse is accomplished and specifically what type of sexual contact occurs consist within each incident of abuse. Generally power and control of one sibling over another sibling is all about sexual exploitation. The type of sibling sexual abuse can include touching, kissing, masturbation, oral sex and penetrative sex.

The sibling who is preying upon the younger sibling may have character traits which are beyond healing. The need to find answers which are not apparently easy to identify are a result of this behavior being hidden for so many years. It is difficult to believe that sibling sexual abuse is an act which seems to be prevalent, but little is known of why it continues in the family setting.

There are centuries of sibling sexual abuse. If you had the opportunity to watch the film Gladiator, the new King, Commodus, played by actor Joaquin Phoenix, and his sister in the show, Lucilla, played by actress Connie Nielsen demonstrates the sibling sexual abuse which allegedly existed during that time. Throughout the movie, Commodus tries to have a sexual relationship with Lucilla, using her son, Lucius, played by actor Spencer Treat Clark, in order to get her to comply sexually. It is a remarkable show with many plots. This plot demonstrated just how mentally ill Commodus was. Lucilla feared him, but at the same time knew how to control him.
The sad aspect of Gladiator is although some of the movie revealed truth; the incestuous Commodus is not that dissimilar with some of the boys/men of today. Mental health issues then and now demonstrate the need for siblings to manipulate, deceive, control and use their power to gain their sexual gratifications.

Sibling sexual abuse is sometimes known as “sexually harmful behavior.” Society has the need to try and minimize that sibling sexual abuse is a real problem. Changing the name does not change the circumstances behind the sexual abuse. Over the years there has been documentation that children of all ages engage in some degree of sexual interaction between themselves, as well as self-exploration. Mental health professionals have alleged that this type of sexual interaction may be considered as “healthy and necessary for normal sexual and social development.”

In reasoning which is considered healthy and necessary experimentation and which is exploitation comes down to the ages between the aggressive sibling and the victim sibling at the time of the alleged sexual abuse.

The difference of what is the sexual act experimentation or exploitation is predicated upon the ages of the child at the time of the sexual act, seems archaic and unintelligent. Since sibling sexual abuse has been such a problem over the years, one would believe and hope there would be a competent and intelligent way in which to determine if sibling abuse is either a natural aging process and/or criminal in nature. It seems from all the research to date, that for the majority, little is still unknown in the field of understanding what sibling sexual abuse is.

 Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
One Daly Corporation
Legal Strategies And Forensic Techniques
(877) 364-5797
“Specializing In Child Sexual Abuse Education And Investigations”

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