Power Point Factors That Contribute To Sibling Sexual AbusePresentation Transcript
Factors That Contribute To Sibling Sexual Abuse
Introduction to Factors That Contribute To Sibling Sexual Abuse Sibling sexual abuse occurrence and frequency rivals many other forms of incest (Bank, Kahn,Lewis 1988, Caffaro, Conn-Caffaro, 1998, Hardy, 2001). Research on sibling sexual abuse focuses primarily on the survivor, usually an adult or an older adolescent (Bass,Taylor,Knudson-Martin and Huenergardt, 2006). Limited research focuses on the relationship between the siblings and on the perpetrating child (Abrahams, Hoey, 1994, Gilbert, 1992, Madonna, Van Scoyk, Jones, 1991). Information and research is available on the effects that sibling sexual abuse has on the victim, the offender, and the impact on their family through the years. This is valuable information as this provides reference resources for those associated with this situation and for the professionals that assist them. This is important vital information and continued and current research is imperative. The significant areas of sibling relationships and the perpetrating child are available in limited resources and should be viewed equally as important. The factors and characteristics approach this topic from a different perspective. This information and perspective could approach the topic of sibling sexual abuse prior to its occurrence. This education could then be relative to a timeframe of preventing possible occurrence, which then validates how valuable it is to continue research on this topic. It is important to define variables involved with sibling sexual abuse. Sibling sexual abuse can be defined as the sexual behavior that occurs between two siblings (Thompson,2009). This behavior is not age appropriate, and is not motivated by a developing mental curiosity that is appropriate, and whether the occurrence is transitory or prolonged it is not appropriate (Thompson, 2009). Sibling relationships and causes of sibling incest through the years have been addressed in several distinct ways; the purpose of this paper is to provide a concise view of some of the available research findings and to educate the reader from that research.
The unique relationship that siblings share that binds them by genetics and family connections often will outlast many relationships in their lives (Bass,et al., 2006). The longevity of a sibling relationship can be considered one of their most influential relationships that they will experience in their lives. The sibling relationship is often viewed, as not having a significant impact. The impact that this relationship has on each sibling should not be underestimated (Kiselica and Morrill-Richards, 2007). The connection and relationship that siblings share can give rise to the conception that sibling sexual abuse is regarded as “sexual curiosity”( Thompson, 2009). Although, details surrounding the curiosity that siblings may experience is not fully understood; that concept is often accepted by the surrounding family involved with the siblings, as the motivation why the incident occurred (Thompson, 2009). This curiosity can come in all forms of interactions between the siblings. It is not limited to fondling or intercourse; it can involve one or a combination of any attempts towards unwanted sexual advances or sexual leers (Thompson, 2009). To force a sibling to view pornographic material can result with as much impact psychologically on that person as the actual forced sexual act (Kiselica, et al. 2007). Sibling sexual abuse is a form of sexual contact that occurs between a sibling dyad, which the victim experiences as traumatic (Haskins, 2003). It can occur in a variety of forms. Physical touching, indecent exposure, intercourse by force or coercion, penetration that is attempted, and anal or oral sex, or fondling (Haskins, 2003). It can also occur in the form of non-contact between the two siblings (Haskins, 2003). It could be in the form of viewing or taking pornographic pictures, indecent exposure, or making the sibling observe the other’s behavior that is sexual in nature (Haskings, 2003).
The sibling sexual abuse can occur in different gender combinations, but the most frequent dyad is the older brother – younger sister combination (Thompson, 2009). The older brother-younger sister is a combination that generally places the older sibling in a position of power and responsibility, sometimes as the babysitter (Thompson, 2009). The environment for this dyad can be one of several situations. The environment could place both siblings alone without parental supervision for lengthy periods of time. It could occur when the older sibling is placed in a position as caretaker, or as a replacement for a parent that is unable to care for them due to varying circumstances. These parental circumstances can involve substance abuse, financial issues, personal issues, emotional and stress related issues, or mental health issues (Graham-Bermann, Cutler, 1994). This dyad can also occur as a result of the older sibling’s motivating need to emotionally fulfill and satisfy their desire for comfort and nurture, rather than what could be perceived as their need for sexual gratification (Thompson, 2009). The family dynamics would need to be considered and examined to decide if the older siblings offending behavior is an expression of their unconscious thoughts and desires. The older sibling could be acting in this manner because of an originating need for acceptance and comfort in a family environment that is dysfunctional (Thompson, 2009). Many variables can factor in when considering the effects of the family environment and its impact on the siblings. Sibling sexual abuse is view typically not as a single causative factor, but instead as a combination of multiple systems and factors. The family system and the developmental levels of the sibling and their victim, all potentially have an effect for the abuse (Haskins, 2003). Clinicians have utilized the research done on family dynamics to assist them in understanding sibling abuse (Thompson, 2009). Large percentages of sibling offenders report having experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse or emotional abuse in their earlier childhood (Haskins, 2003).
Since the family unit is an intimate unit with each participating individual affecting the other in that relationship, when there is a breakdown in the unit, forms of violence can occur (Haskins, 2003). Violence can manifest itself in many forms and the presence of an incident of sibling sexual abuse cannot be isolated as a separate problem and should potentially be considered as a “manifestation of family dysfunction” (Haskins, 2003). In all sibling sexual abuse cases the family unit and how it is functioning should always be taken into consideration (Bass, et al. 2006). The family dynamics in cases of sexual and physical abuse have been found to be more similar than different (Friedrich, 1990). When incest occurs between a younger sibling by an older sibling it is mostly motivated by a desire to satisfy an underlying emotional need for nurturing and comfort rather than for the actual sexual gratification (Friedrich, 1990). The offending siblings unconscious needs and conflicts can be expressed through the abusive behavior (Friedrich,1990). Research has shown family dynamics in sexual and physical abuse cases have more similar than different common characteristics (Friedrich, 1990). General findings include a high level of parental stress related to social, personal, economic or substance abuse issues (Phillips-Green, 2002). They can have low self esteem, low tolerance for frustration, lack problem solving skills, helplessness and worthiness, deficits in communication as well as expressive and affective problems. They may have frequently experienced unresolved losses (Friedrich, 1990). There can be an exaggerated form of patriarchal norms with an oppressive father or mother (Haskins, 2003). There can be forms of parenting skills that demonstrate high frustration levels with exhibition of harsh and punitive discipline styles (Bass, et al 2006). The existence of unmet needs for nurturance and other interfamilial family factors may exist (Phillip-Green, 2002). The perpetrator may have a desire due to family situations to discharge some of their internal aggression that they are experiencing (Haskins, 2003). There can be an underlying feeling of isolation in the family unit or with the perpetrating sibling (Bass, et al.,2006). The family relationship can involve a poor level of communication and one where secrets are held (Haskins, 2003). The roles among family members may be blurred (Phillip-Green, 2002).
In cases of sibling sexual abuse there can be families with sufficient pain. (Gil, 1996). There are feelings of distress, where no one listens and they feel helpless to change, and alone. Often they cannot change the patterns, this then results in symptoms and these are frequently in the form of abuse. The abuse can occur between many combinations, parent to child, parent to parent or in the case of sibling sexual abuse, child to child (Gil, 1996). In a case related to “nurturance-oriented incest” the siblings in a family can form a coalition that is secret and hold feelings that both are against their parents, because they feel the parents did not offer them nurturing, attention and love (Kahn, Lewis, 1988). Research has shown that there is a lack of parental supervision which can be related to contributing factors of, marital, personal, health, mental health, substance abuse, financial, stress, and physical issues (DiGiorgio-Miller, 1998, Alexander, 1992). These and many other issues can cause the boundaries and roles to be blurred among the family members(Caffaro,Conn-Caffaro,1998). Characteristics commonly found from research that exist with the perpetrating sibling are they are older, generally a male, and some can be considered the favored child (DiGiorgio-Miller,1998). Differences exist in their physical strength, gender, size, intelligence and they are generally developmentally more sophisticated than the victim (Graham-Bermann, 1994). The offender may have self-esteem issues or; they may have experienced an attachment issue in their parent child relationship (DiGiorgio-Miller, 1998). They may have a sexual curiosity due to a lack of sex education, or they may actually have been a victim of previous sexual abuse themselves (Bass, et al. 2006). They may have access to pornographic material (Bass et al., 2006). They often have experienced past trauma or maltreatment, been physically abused, neglect or isolated and may not relate well with their peers. They may feel that they are immune from being detected due to favoritism (DiGiorgio-Miller, 1998). The offender will trade affection and attention for sex as a way of meeting their unconscious nurturing needs. They may use sex as an exchange for withholding punishment for control and power. The children learn these inappropriate behaviors through the family member’s violent interactions with each other, and can therefore learn to behave in inappropriate sexual ways (Finkelhor, 1986).
Conclusion Educating parents and guardians about the research findings of generalized factors and characteristics found to be related to sibling sexual abuse is an approach to this topic that has the potential to decrease the effects that the situation has on the victim, offender, and their family. If it involves dysfunction family dynamics, finding a means to address the dynamics in a preventive manner to decrease the potential for some of the information found from the research. A suggested area for future research is how to continue studying and conducting research on contributing factors in sibling sexual abuse, which will yield specific definitive factors. This research could be used, to inform and educate parents in a preventative manner. Continued qualitative research needs to be conducted to define specific targeted factors that parents can be cognizant of when raising their families. This research could make parents and professionals aware and to be able to approach this in a preventive manner, rather than an approach that works backwards after the incident. Continue future research in this area is needed, to be able to give specific information that parents and professionals will recognize as potential signs to be addressed, prior to the sibling committing an act that potentially could have been prevented. Viewing the sibling relationship as one piece of the family puzzle demonstrates that the family environment among other factors must be taken into consideration for both the reasons of the sibling sexual abuse occurring and for the approach and methods of treatment for recovery for all involved. Limited qualitative research has been conducted in marital and family therapy that has focused on the contributing factors of sexual abuse among siblings (Faulkner, Klock, Gale, 2002) which affects the material available for professionals and families looking for resources when needing references for assistance. Due to childhood repression and many other contributing factors , disclosure by children, “is a process not an event” (Carnes, 2000).
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