Sibling Sexual Abuse – A Parents Guide (opd 1996)

(Courtesy of Family Services of Greater Vancouver)

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Admitting to yourself that sibling sexual abuse might be happening in your family can be hard.
The most important thing is to get help.

Why this booklet?

This booklet is written for parents who know or suspect there is sibling abuse in their family and want to do something about it. It’s also written for parents who want to understand and prevent sibling sexual abuse in their family. Many parents are afraid to believe that sexual abuse could be possible in their family, and this booklet is meant to support parents in facing that possibility in an informed and realistic way.

What is sibling sexual abuse?

Sibling sexual abuse, like all forms of sexual abuse, is an abuse of power. If a more powerful sibling, who may be older or stronger, bribes or threatens a weaker sibling into sexual activity, that is called sexual abuse. The abuser usually wins the trust of the victim first, and then violates that trust in order to commit the abuse. The abuser may use force, the threat of force, a bribe, the offer of special attention, or a gift to make the victim keep the abuse secret.

In sibling sexual abuse, the victim and the abuser are siblings. This may include such situations as foster or step-siblings. Also, as in other forms of sexual abuse, sibling sexual abuse doesn’t necessarily involve sexual touching. The abuser may force two or more other children to engage in sexual activity with one another. The abuser may force the siblings to watch sexual activity or pornographic videotapes. The abuser may also abuse them by repeatedly watching them dress, shower or use the toilet when they don’t want to be watched.

Trust is essential in families, but a sibling who has been given a lot of responsibility and power may abuse that trust. Sibling sexual abuse often takes place when parents fail to pay attention to the trust that they have placed in one of their children.

What are the effects of sibling sexual abuse?

Sibling sexual abuse is often very harmful for the following reasons:

Because the siblings live together, the victim may feel pressured and trapped by the abuser over a long period of time. This pressure usually includes bribes, sexual stimulation or physical force. For example, when you allow your oldest son to use physical punishment when baby-sitting, he may continue to use both physical abuse and threats to make sure his younger siblings keep the sexual abuse secret. This kind of pressure can break down the siblings’ self confidence.

The victim usually begins by trusting the abuser because they are siblings. When this trust is violated, the victim feels betrayed by that brother or sister, because someone they expect to love and care for them is hurting them. In addition, your younger children would naturally trust you to choose a safe, kind person to take care of them. When the person you choose abuses them, the victims feel betrayed again, this time by you. They may even believe that you think the abuse is all right.

The victims usually feel powerless to stop the abuse. They feel they can’t stop the offender, because he has threatened them. They may also feel powerless if you don’t believe them when they tell you they are being abused. This feeling of being powerless can stay with them and affect their adult relationships.

The victims may be made to feel responsible, bad or dirty. If you accuse your younger children of doing something to encourage the abuse, or if you call them ‘dirty’ or ‘slutty’, they’ll believe you, and feel ashamed as well. They may carry these feelings of shame into adulthood.

Sibling sexual abuse often causes more damage than abuse by a stranger. This is because children are dependent for years on their families and parents to keep them safe. Studies of convicted teenage sexual abuse offenders show that the sibling offenders commit more serious abuse over a longer period of time than other teenage offenders. This is because the victims (brothers or sisters) are more readily available, they are available for a longer period of time and the offenders are protected by family secrecy.

If you know or suspect that one of your children is being sexually abused by a sibling, do something. If you do nothing because you believe ‘they’ll grow out of it’, you allow the abuse and secrecy to continue.

Is sexual curiosity between siblings normal ?

Yes. A four-year old girl who touches her baby brother’s penis while her mother changes his diaper is showing normal curiosity. She may never have seen a penis before and may want to know what it feels like. A five year old boy who sees his sisters genitals for the first time may wonder where her penis is, whether she’s lost it and whether she’s going to grow one. He may have to look a few more times, and ask questions to understand that boys and girls are born with different genitals. As a parent you can use opportunities like these to give your children some information about sexuality that is suitable for their age.

However, a fourteen-year-old boy who wants to look at his five-year-old sister’s genitals is not showing normal curiosity. Normally, at his age, he would know what female genitals look like, so you would need to ask why he wants to do this. It could be that he’s wondering what it would feel like to touch female genitals or rub his penis against them. But to satisfy his curiosity in this way with his younger sister would be abusive.

Four- and five-year-olds who take down their pants to look at each other’s genitals are probably curious. But if they persist in doing it, or if they touch one another’s genitals frequently over time, you should look at it carefully. If it seems like more than curiosity, consider the possibility that one of them might have been sexually abused, and could be acting out the abuse.

It’s not a good idea to think that all play is harmless. It’s better to find out what’s behind the behaviour. Some questions you could ask yourself, or a professional, are:

  • Is this behaviour what you would expect from a child that age?
  • How long has the behaviour been going on?
  • Does it seem that one of the children involved is being forced to participate?
  • What is the purpose of the behaviour?

Here are some examples of behaviours in pre-school children:

Normal behaviour-

  • Rubs genitals before falling asleep
  • Explores differences between boys and girls
  • Is interested in watching adults go to the bathroom
  • Plays ‘doctor’ with other children
  • Plays house. Plays ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ roles

Behaviours that should cause concern-

  • Frequently rubs genitals instead of playing
  • Keeps asking questions about sex even after questions have
    been reasonably answered
  • Persists in watching adults in the bathroom
  • Forces other children to play doctor
  • Pretends to have intercourse

If you aren’t sure about a behaviour, ask a professional; a doctor, a school nurse or counsellor, a social worker, a daycare supervisor or a child psychologist. There is also a booklet available that could be helpful: When Children Act Out Sexually: A Guide for Parents and Teachers available from Vancouver Family Services.

What is the relationship between sibling sexual abuse and other forms of abuse?

Sibling sexual abuse is a misuse of power and authority. Older children who sexually abuse their younger brothers and sisters frequently abuse them in other ways as well.

Persistent putting down, teasing, or belittling younger children about their size, gender or other personal characteristics is called emotional abuse. Scaring younger children in dark rooms, telling them that no one loves them, or that terrible things are going to happen to them are also examples of emotional abuse.

Much of the hitting, pinching and smothering of younger children is dismissed by bigger or older siblings who tell their parents, ‘We were only having fun’ or ‘We were just wrestling.’ However, this isn’t ‘just fun’ if it’s forced on the younger child; it is actually physical abuse.

If you are able to prevent your children from emotionally and physically abusing one another, you are less likely to have to deal with sexual abuse as well. Children who are allowed to abuse their siblings emotionally and physically may use their power in sexual ways as well.

Frank’s Story

Frank was charged under the Young Offenders Act with sexually abusing his younger sister Kathy. His probation officer enforced the court order that he attend counseling.

Frank, who was 15, told his counselor that his classmates were bigger and more sexually ‘successful’ than he was, and that one of them had dared him to have sex with a girl.

He said that he was afraid to even talk to a girl, let alone ask for a date. He admitted that he made his younger sister Kathy have sexual intercourse with him one evening when he was babysitting her.

Then Frank’s mother told the counselor that Frank’s father had forced sex on her in front of the children on a number of occasions. She disclosed that he often beat her if his meals weren’t ready on time. The counselor encouraged her to take Frank and Kathy to a transition house as a temporary measure, while she decided whether or not to stay with her husband.

There were several factors involved in Frank’s becoming a sibling sex offender. His father abused his mother physically, emotionally, and sexually; he abused Frank sexually and emotionally by having forceful, abusive sex with his mother in front of him; and he taught Frank by his example that it was acceptable for a male in authority to use force on the rest of the family. Not only that, his rules for the family were so strict that Frank handn’t learned to socialize with other teenagers. Feeling pressure from his peers, he tried to get information and experience by forcing himself on his younger sister.

There are many benefits to court-ordered counseling for sibling sex offenders. In Frank’s case he learned some social skills that helped him get along better with other teenagers, and he stopped copying his father’s abusive behavior. He also learned to take responsibility for his own behaviour and to control it. Other outcomes of the family crisis included his mother being able to leave an abusive relationship and Kathy starting to see a sexual abuse counselor. Following his conviction, Frank’s father was charged by the court to seek counseling and to change the way he treats women and children.

What Factors contribute to sibling sexual abuse?

An older sibling, usually a boy, is given too much responsibility

It’s an important part of family life for older children to learn to take responsibility for the care of younger children. It’s just as important for children to understand that this responsibility has limits. Responsibility allows older children to make decisions while taking care of younger children. But it doesn’t give them the right to boss them, put them down or threaten them. As parents, you must help them see that having responsibility doesn’t mean that they can do whatever they want. Frank’s story is a good example of an older brother who is given responsibility and misuses it.

Children who have witnessed or experienced sexual abuse

Children who have been sexually abused, either by family members or by adults or older children, sometimes react by coaxing, manipulating, or forcing younger children into the same kind of sexual behaviour. Brothers and sisters may become the victims of this ‘second hand’ abuse. Sexually intrusive children who act out their own abuse in this way are sometimes called ‘sexually reactive’. It’s important for you to know that children who are being sexually victimized may become sexually intrusive.

Access to pornography

Parents who leave pornographic videotapes or magazines where children can look at them run the risk of having their children imitate adult sexual behaviour.

Neglect

If children are neglected, either physically or emotionally, they might engage in a full range of sexual activities. They might try sexual activities they have learned from other children, or they might experiment, on their own, to learn how to get sexual pleasure. Part of their behaviour might come from their need to give and receive comfort when they’re getting non from their parents.

Sexual activity between siblings which begins in this way might, at first, appear experimental and mutual. However, because o f the power differences between children, it rarely is. If the behaviour continues, it can become abusive, especially if one of the children wants to stop and the other doesn’t.

  • Lack of sex education
  • Children and teens who are not taught in an age-appropriate way about their physical and sexual development are more likely to engage in sexually intrusive behaviour.
  • Inadequate socialization
  • Children who are not allowed to play with their peers, and teenagers who aren’t allowed to date, dance or socialize outside the home, are more likely to sexually abuse younger siblings, just as Frank did.
  • Denial

We often tend to see our own families as free from the trouble and tensions that other families have. When you do this, or try to explain away unusual behaviour or pretend it isn’t happening, this is called ‘denial’. In some situations, parents may wish to deny that abuse has taken place because it brings back memories of their own abuse. While denial doesn’t cause sibling sexual abuse, it may contribute to it’s continuation.

Feeling overwhelmed

If you feel overwhelmed by your own problems — which can include emotional stress, illness and unemployment — you might not be able to detect the abuse even when it’s happening. At times like this your extended family or a social service agency might be able to relieve the stress, and give you a chance to look at what’s really happening in your family.

Why might it be difficult to recognize sibling sexual abuse in my family?

  • As a parent you might find it hard to see that one of your children is being sexually abused by a sibling. There are several reasons why parents of sibling sexual abuse victims have difficulty recognizing that it’s happening:
  • While the abuse is happening, the victim might be too young to know it’s abuse. The victim may believe that the abuse is something that happens in all families.
  • The abuse might be happening when the abuser is in a position of authority; for example, when an older sibling is the baby-sitter.
  • The abuser may be enforcing secrecy by threatening the victim with physical abuse if he or she tells.
  • Victims blame themselves, especially if they experience pleasure while they’re being abused, so they may not tell you about it.
  • Children may want to tell, but not know how to talk to you about what’s happening. Also, many children are afraid to upset their parents.
  • You may see some of the symptoms of sibling sexual abuse, but tell yourself it isn’t happening.
  • Parents who talk to their children about what has happened during the day and who ask about their feelings may be more likely to recognize sibling sexual abuse than parents who don’t.

If one of my children is abusing another child in my family, what should I do?

If your child is sexually abusing another child in the family, you report the abuse to your local child protection agency. While the way you do this may vary from province to province, the child protection agency in your province is responsible for helping both the victim and the offender. If your child is 12 or over, the child protection agency must report the abuse to the police. The police will decide whether or not to charge the child. If your child is under the age of 12, he or she cannot be charged with a sexual offense.

Admitting to yourself that sibling sexual abuse might be happening in your family can be hard. Admitting it to someone else can be even harder. The important thing is to get help. It is often helpful to get support from family and friends, but you might have to rely on others. Often these others are professionals. As a parent you may feel in a state of despair and confusion when you realize that one of your children, is abusing their sibling. You may feel disappointed and may feel that you have failed as a parent. Joining a parental support group may help you acknowledge and accept your feelings.

No matter what your child’s age, there are options as to what happens after you make the report to your child protection agency.

Under 12

Many counseling centres that treat victims of sexual abuse also have programs for “sexually intrusive” children. These are children who have been acting in sexually aggressive ways towards other children, but are under the age of 12. In many cases these children are sexual abuse victims themselves. They need counseling for this as well as to change their behaviour towards other children.

12 and Over

There are several advantages to involving the police and the criminal justice system when the offender is a child over the age of 12. By using the court system:

  • We make a statement about how seriously our society views sexual abuse.
  • The victim knows he or she is believed.
  • The offender can get the help he needs.
  • The judge can make plans for the offender’s treatment.

Treatment can take many forms. One option could include placing a teenage sibling sex offender on probation with an order to have counseling while living at home. In this case the teenager will have a probation worker who will make sure the judge’s orders are followed.

If offenses are serious enough, the teenage abuser could be confined for a period of time in a detention centre. These centres are staffed by counselors and social workers who specialize in treating adolescent sex offenders. Treatment could include attending groups where the offender looks closely at his behaviour, and receiving individual counseling to help him understand it. The offender may also be taught basic social skills, such as how to make friends his own age, or how to ask for a date and learn appropriate sexual behaviour. Most important, compulsory counseling can help prevent the young offender from growing into an adult offender.

If the province where you live has a criminal injuries compensation program, the victim(s) of sibling sexual abuse might be eligible for free counseling. Your social worker or a victim assistance worker should be able to give you this information. After reporting the abuse, counseling for both the offender and the victim(s) can be an important step to healing in your family.

Jamie’s Story

Jamie, 12, became sexually excited by watching a rock video. He wondered what it would be like to watch his eight-year-old sister, Carole-Anne, dance in the nude. Two or three times when his parents were out for the evening he talked her into taking off her clothes and dancing in front of the television set. Then he told her that one day she’d be a great dancer and a rock star. After that Carole-Anne started running in front of the television set all the time just to get his attention. When Jamie complained that Carole-Anne was a nuisance, Carole-Anne told her mother what Jamie had made her do. Her mother recognized that Jamie’s behaviour had been abusive.

HOW can I intervene to stop sibling sexual abuse?

  • When you discover abusive behaviour, remember that you should report it to the child protection agency.
  • You may want see a counselor or join a parent support group to get support for yourself.
  • You might try to find an opportunity and a place in which you and your children can talk quietly and calmly. This might be in a living room or at the kitchen table. It depends on where you’re used to having family conversations.
  • Ask the children involved how they feel about the behaviour. Ask the abuser how he/she thinks the victim might feel. For example: “How do you think Carole-Anne felt while she was doing that, Jamie?”
  • Describe the problem, then talk about it. For example: “Carole-Anne danced nude in front of the TV set because she believed she had to do everything you told her to do.”

Agree on what to do instead. In Carole-Anne and Jamie’s case, Jamie agreed not to force Carole-Anne to do things she didn’t want to do, and to respect Carole-Anne’s privacy. Carole-Anne agreed to report any future abuse of authority to her mother. Both children agreed to ask one of their parents to intervene if they couldn’t handle this conflict on their own.

Check regularly to see whether the agreements on both sides are being kept.

Use occasions like these to think and talk about some of the underlying issues. For example, how would you deal with Jamie’s interest in sexually stimulating rock videos? With his bossiness? How would you deal with Carole-Anne’s willingness to do whatever Jamie tells her to do? With her enjoyment of flattery? With her need for attention? These are problems that many families have to deal with on a daily basis. Your success in handling these problems is important in both preventing and stopping sexual abuse.

How can I best prevent sibling sexual abuse in my family?

  • The best way to prevent sibling sexual abuse is to pay attention to your children
  • Set aside a time each day when your children have a chance to tell you about what they’ve done or felt that day. This might be after school or before bed-time.
  • Ensure that children are well looked after by babysitters, whether the sitter is a family member or not. At breakfast you can ask your children specific questions about the previous evening; for example, did they watch their favourite TV program? did they play video games? did they cooperate with the sitter? was the sitter kind? would they like to have the same sitter again?
  • Be willing to talk about sexuality. Informal sex education could include watching educational videos and reading books with your children. Try to find library materials on sex education that are appropriate to the age of your child.
  • Encourage your children’s school to present sexual abuse prevention films and programs. Most of them do, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. The programs usually carry the message, “If someone is making you do something that doesn’t feel good, tell a trusted adult.”
  • Find out where your children are playing, and who they’re playing with. Be especially concerned if they’re playing with children who are focused on sexual games.
  • Teach your children that they own their bodies and everyone should respect that.
  • Monitor television violence. Movies and television programs that link sex and violence carry a dangerous message to children. Research shows these messages have a strong negative effect on children.
  • Encourage non-sexist attitudes and behaviour. For example: give power, responsibility and privileges equally to male and female siblings; assign household tasks fairly, and discourage sexist jokes and sexist put-downs.
  • Believe them. Children rarely invent stories of sexual abuse to get a brother or sister into trouble.

Will our family ever recover?

YES! Even if the abuse went on for a long time, your children can get over it. They’ll need love and understanding, and help in sorting out their thoughts and feelings. But in the end, they’ll feel just like normal kids again.

All families have rocky periods when one or more members have problems. What makes the difference is whether you work on the problems. The communication and support you develop while you do this may establish a new sense of trust in your family.

Suggested Reading:

Wiehe, Vernon. Sibling Abuse: Hidden Physical, Emotional and Sexual Abuse (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 1997.

O’ Brien, Michael. Characteristics of Male Adolescent Sibling Incest Offenders: Preliminary Findings. Brandon, Vermont: Safer Society Press, 1993.

Cunningham, Carolyn and Kee MacFarlane. When Children Molest Children: Group Treatment Strategies for Young Sexual Abusers. Brandon, Vermont: Safer Society Press, 1991.

Bank, Stephen and Michael Kahn. The Sibling Bond. United States: Basic Books, 1982.

Justice, Blair and Rita. The Broken Taboo. New York: Human Sciences Press, 1979.

Harper, James and Margaret Hoopes. Uncovering Shame. New York: Norton, 1990.

Napier-Hemy, John. When Children Act Out Sexually: A Guide for Parents and Teachers. Vancouver: Family Services of Greater Vancouver, 1991.

This is one of five booklets in the Sexual Abuse Information Series II:

When Girls Have Been Sexually Abused
A Guide For Young Girls (Cat. # H72-21/101-1994)

When Males Have Been Sexually Abused
A Guide For Adult Male Survivors (Cat. # H72-21/102-1994)

When Your Partner Has Been Sexually Abused
A Guide For Partners (Cat. # H72-21/103-1994)

When Teenage Girls Have Been Sexually Abused
A Guide For Teenagers (Cat. # H72-21/104-1994)

Sibling Sexual Abuse – A Guide For Parents
(Cat. # H72-21/105-1994)
(Formatted for printing in booklet form)

Sexual Abuse Information Series I includes the following booklets:

Sexual Abuse – What Happens When You Tell
A Guide For Children (Cat. # H72-21/67-1991)

When Teenage Boys Have Been Sexually Abused
A Guide For Teenagers (Cat. # H72-21/68-1991)

When Boys Have Been Sexually Abused
A Guide For Young Boys (Cat. # H72 21/69-1991)

Sexual Abuse Counseling
A Guide For Children And Parents (Cat. # H72-21/70-1991)

When Children Act Out Sexually
A Guide For Parents And Teachers (Cat. # H72-21/71-1991)

The booklets are available from:

National Clearinghouse on Family Violence
Family Violence Prevention Division

Health Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada KIA 1B5

Tel: 1-800-267-1291
Fax: 1-613- 941-8930
TDD line: 1-800-561-5653

Credits –

VISAC Directors
Naomi Ehren-Lis
Terri Nicholas

Project Coordinator
Leonard Terhoch

Writer
John Napier-Hemy

Editors
English – Joanne Broatch
French – Johanne Raynault

VISAC – Vancouver/Richmond Incest & Sexual Abuse Centre
(604) 874-2938 / (604) 244-9319

Definition of ‘sibling’ as used in this booklet

In this booklet the word ‘sibling’ is used to refer to children who grow up in the same family, whether they are step-children, foster children, adopted children or children by birth.

In the examples of sibling sexual abuse we’ve chosen for this booklet, the offenders are male. We’ve done this because there’s little information about sibling offenders, and what little information there is comes from studies of teenage boys who have been charged by the court system. We know some teenage girls sexually abuse their younger brothers and sisters, but there’s hardly any information about it. We also know that both boys and girls too young to be charged do act out sexually against their younger siblings. There’s little information about this either, because it doesn’t have to be made public.

For these reasons please remember that although the examples we use are true ones, they may not reflect how often girls and younger children engage in ‘sexually intrusive behaviour’.

ISBN 0-662-61004-0

©1994 Family Services of Greater Vancouver
1616 West 7th Avenue
Vancouver, B.C. V6I 1S5
Tel: (604) 731-4951 Fax: (604) 733-7009
This material may NOT be reproduced for commercial purposes!
PLEASE retain the copyright information as well as the contact information for FSGV.
– Thank you –


Comments

Sibling Sexual Abuse – A Parents Guide (opd 1996) — 34 Comments

  1. “What Factors contribute to sibling sexual abuse?
    An older sibling, usually a boy, is given too much responsibility”
    That quote is irresponsible, there are alot of girls who are given too much responsibility and end up abusing their siblings as well. By saying “usually a boy” and giving two examples of boys as the abusers and girls as the victims with no examples of girls as the abusers and boys as the victims implies that parents don’t have to worry about girls and should focus more on the boys which is dangerous and a major factor that contributes to sibling sexual abuse from girls.

    • From the end of the document…
      “In the examples of sibling sexual abuse we’ve chosen for this booklet, the offenders are male. We’ve done this because there’s little information about sibling offenders, and what little
      information there is comes from studies of teenage boys who have been charged by the court system. We know some teenage girls sexually abuse their younger brothers and sisters, but there’s hardly any information about it. We also know that both boys and girls too young to be charged do act out sexually against their younger siblings. There’s little information about this either, because it doesn’t have to be made public.”

    • When you want to educate about types of crimes where almost every single one was by a man or boy, you aren’t doing anybody any good when it is looked at politically and not factually. The sexual abuse victim is almost always a girl under age 12. Their sexual abuser is almost always the father, grandfather, uncle, brother, male cousin or male family friend. Parents should not hire teen boys to babysit their young children. And make sure that your children know that if they get separated from you and lost in public they should go to the first mommy they see. They can easily learn to look for a mommy the mommy has her children with her. There is almost never a kind security guard or police presence in your child’s sight so they just start walking in a panic.
      Now it IS true that men are raped at much higher numbers than women are. But it isn’t by women. These rapes are taking place in jails and prisons many times each day by fellow inmates. Prison reform is so desperately needed. Nobody should be sexually violated. Hearing and knowing the truth behind who is really molesting little girls is vital. Political correctness isn’t going to do a damn thing to keep children safe.

  2. This website is so good. For a long time I could not understand (or accept) this situation. Wish I could talk more about that with someone!

  3. It’s been 5 months since my 7 year old told me that he was sexually abused by his visiting 13 year old stepbrother over Christmas break, and I am as angry and hurt today as I was the day he disclosed. I feel that the system over looked my child (step child was given 18 months of rehabilitation) and even with my son receiving counseling, his PTSD symptoms have gotten worse. I am tired of being told to “quit talking about it and he’ll eventually forget” by the stepchild’s bio mom and dad. They care more about the adolescent offender getting treatment and justifying his behavior on the fact he may have Aspbergers, than my child. The adolescents therapist is talking reunification and meeting with the offender, and I, nor my son, are not anywhere close to forgiving, forgetting or reunifying right now. I wish there were more resources available to non offender parent and victims of intra familial abuse. Offenders parents want to keep things hush hush, family and friends are not being told, and I think it is wrong to expect my son and myself to remain silent and hold the secret to not damage the offenders life in any way. He didn’t care about the damage done to my son, his parents don’t seem to care either…. I just don’t see family reunification happening when stepson still blames my child and harbors such animosity toward the victim and when his parents are in denial their child could do something so heinous and fail to make their son or themselves accountable. I search these boards and sites daily looking for some form of hope, to find another victim parent that feels the same. Unfortunately, it seems that I’m not the only parent being asked to remain silent and hope “it goes away”. I’m not going to let that happen anymore. My son deserves better than what the juvenile justice system did/did not do for him.

    • I am so sorry to hear that. Who could possibly force you are your son into meeting with his abuser? I don’t see how that could be legally done, but, then again, I live in the states. As the victim, he’s “over it” or has “moved on” when HE says so. How dare they lay that crap on you and your son and try to guilt you all into meeting up with him. That is so NERVY!

  4. Sibling violence/abuse/sexual assault seem to be the only situation of this type where the victim is encouraged to ‘reunify’ with the perpetrator. Adult rape victims are not told to talk out their issues with their attacker. Likewise offenders outside the family group are not told to do so.

    It seems that this is a form of acceptance of the behaviour as well as a way to hide the abuse. Victims should not be encouraged/forced to counsel with their victimiizers. This, in my mind, seems to be done to spread the blame for what was done. The victim, through this action, begins to accept that they played a part in the abuse. They did NOT.

    They are are the victim just as in any sexual assault case. police, judges, family court and counselors would be well advised to understand that this minimises the feelings of the victim. Once the victim is put in this position they are encouraged, actively or inactively, to take partial responsibility and to continue hiding the abuse for the ‘good’ of the family.

    In my opinion the perpetrator should be kept away from the victim. They need protection.

    • Thank you for validating what I’ve been feeling… By “forcing” family reunification, my child is being re-victimized yet again. My family will never be “normal” again, nor will we be a stronger family for having gone through this nightmare.

    • So double punish the victim by taking away the family? Yes family’s are encouraged to work through issues. Hopefully a good therapist can work through the issues and not “blame” the victim. Typically a victim does not want the family to break u they want the abuse to stop period. When it is a known family member it is more complex then a stranger sexually assaulting.

  5. My son’s father and I are separated and live apart. I have been ordered by family court to allow my son to take overnight visits at his father’s house. His father has been given full physical custody of his older son, of whom I am not the mother. The older half-brother is at sever risk for becoming, if he hasn’t already, a sibling sexual abuser. He has a history of trauma and abuse, including being molested by a teenage uncle at the age of five and routinely having been present in rooms in which his mother or aunts engaged in casual sexual activity. The child was in treatment for a short period of time after coming to live with his father, but it was not maintained. Presently, he recieves no treatment. He has a history of committing violent acts on children at school, has been found researching pornography as early as age nine. His father is in denial about the older child’s risk factors and refuses to participate in preventative actions. Without much hard evidence of these behaviors, is there anything I can do to prevent my own two-year-old son from being molested in the home during visits? I am terrified that my toddler will either be left in the care of the older sibling, that they might share a sleeping space, or that father’s denial and insufficient supervision will place my child at an.even greater risk for sibling molestation. What can I do to prevent this almost inevitable tragedy from occurring, if it hasn’t happened already?

  6. I am a 24 year old women I was sexually abused. by my brother started when i was 10 stopped when I was 12 i kept my secret until I was 22 I told my parents my brother isnt my dads son but is my moms my dad was supportive I did a statement to the police via video and when my brother did statement he denied it happening he confessed it to my mother that he had but she decided to cover it up and lie she acts as though nothing had happend and it seriously effects me iv got children and I am constantly scared they will be abused they already know where is inapropriat to be touched or that people shouldn’t ask them to get naked. Iv not seen a counciler as i dont know how to find one who is an expert in sibling incest sexual abuse

    • Are you saying that your brother IS the father of your son, but that you denied it to your parents at first? What is the purpose of her lying about it and protecting him? I’m so sorry. You must feel doubly betrayed; first by him, and secondly by her. I would keep my children far far away from your brother. Giving birth at 12 must have been so taumatic!

  7. What happens if it is “step-brother’ figure sibling that is 16 and doing it to his 20 year old “step sister”
    the quotes are used because the parents are not married yet

    • Curiosity-put alarms on children’s doors. They can be purchased inexpensively. Have open discussions about good touches and bad touches.

  8. When working with families where sibling sexual abuse has occurred and resulted in a child being borne. How and when should you talk to the younger children in the family about what has occurred and are their any publications or resources to help you to do this?

  9. I’m a 57year old woman with no idea what to do about abuse that happened 50years ago by my step brother I can’t even find reading material that applies or if there’s a statue of limitations in my state everything Iv read so far is either for parents children or the victim where do I go for information?

    • Generally the statute of limitations has probably run out. IANAL but it usually has to do with reporting the abuse within a certain time after the abuse or knowledge of the abuse.
      Trying to move on is what most try to do. This can involve reading, therapy or finding people with similar experiences to share. You might try the books listed here on Sasian. I’ve found those by Vernon Weihe to be helpful but there are books on overcoming/surviving abuse.

  10. I was sexually abused by my sister physically 3 times when I was 12 and she was 15 and the only reason it didn’t happen more is because we each lived with a different parent however after researching it as a now 35 year old woman I now realize that her forcing me to watch her masterbate and look at porn this was also abuse it actually happened for years she also beat the crap out of me any chance she got and my family thinks that’s funny to this day, she even brags about the beatings! I did not tell my mother until last year and it was only because they all of a sudden had this wonderful relationship that had never existed before this and in fact for years mu mother and sister hated each other and told anyone who would listen that they did and I could not stand to listen one more time to what an awesome and amazing person she was and I finally snapped and said how can you defend a person your child or not who sexually physically and emotionally abused me for years and has never been held accountable for it not once! Both of my parents knew about all the abuse that had happened other than the sexual abuse when I was still a kid and her answer was my sister didn’t know what she was doing and that she was going to be close to her no matter what had happened. I was told that I should get on the phone and make things right with my sister for whatever my mother believes I have done to wrong her and that I am going to regret cutting her out of my life!! Who does this and says that?!? I protected her for decades and continue to do so to anyone other than my mom brother and husband and I am made to feel like I did something wrong to her! The last time I had anything to do with her was when my husband and I hosted her wedding (3rd one) did her meal for her and provided their room to stay on their wedding night….does that sound like I did something wrong? Once she stopped me from having any contact with my two nieces to the point of threatening each of their fathers that if they allowed me to see them that she would cut the dad’s out of the girls lives too I finally had enough and have never spoken to her since. Every time I talk to my mom she makes a point of telling me what a good mom and wife my sister is and when I told her this hurt me I was once again told that they would always be close no matter what and that my mother would never bring up my so called allegations to my sister. I told her let us both take a lie detector test because I would pass and she would fail but at least I would be validated and when I said that she changed the subject. I am told that I am lucky to have the life I do but in reality it’s not luck that got me an amazing husband of 18 years and a amazing son who plays basketball in Europe this summer at 15 (we are from canada so this is a big deal and he worked his butt off for it…proud mom bragging sorry :) )and my own business it’s called hard work, never giving up, and in general trying to live my life the right way. On the other hand my sister has kicked out her 16 year old daughter this past weekend and told her she can never come home, cheated on two husband’s who left her when she got caught and slept with a “boyfriend” to make money to try to make some to have her 3rd wedding while her fiance lived in the basement under the lie that he was just a renter (dont worry i did tell the “boyfriend” so he could get away and not be taken advantage of) plus has only ever had a job at porn shops because as she proclaims that job was made for her and she is the awesome mom and wife!?! Meanwhile I have been told I had better watch out for how my son will turn out because we have supported his dream of playing ball which has required long hours thousands of dollars and making sure he knew he was always accountable to us in regards to how hard he works and that we require him to have 80% average a school (he is smart enough for those grades and that is why we expect them and he delivers them) to have us put this out for him, I have never missed a game try out or practice in five years never missed a teacher meeting and never left him to his own devices so he has no chance of getting off track and all while dealing with infertility issues for 10 years that finally ended in me having a radical hysterectomy at 33 and a husband who because of our company is only home three days a month, so I have essentially raised him alone since I was 18 with no help from anyone but my sister can smoke pot kick her kids out give up on them because they have drug and alcohol problems get kicked out of school and admit to prostitution. ..wonder where they learned all of that!!!! However my poor nieces are blamed because it’s their choices that have brought them to where they are not apparently bad parenting and I’m told I should feel lucky to not be in my sister position and can I imagine how she must feel! I feel you don’t have a right to give up on your kids we are lucky just to have them i know this better than anyone should have to and marriage can not be disrespected or they will end and that most of all you get what you give…..karma really is a bitch!I am so tired of doing the right thing all the time and still being the one who just got lucky….was it luck that got me abused and changed who I could have been otherwise!? I love my life I Thank God for my husband and son and I know without the abuse I would have neither of them because my life would have been different but don’t call that luck it should really be looked at that it’s amazing I still turned out to be able to be a good mom wife and person and can work for this life especially since I have always had to hide all the wrong that has been done to me!!
    Sorry to rant I just can’t keep it in all the time.

  11. We have just found out about our 12yr old son trying to have sex with his 9 year old sister (in front of his 7 year old sister). We have been so proud of him and his achievements to date – now Im having trouble even looking at him. I’m so upset and disappointed with this behaviour. I know that it will never happen again – our family dynamic has changed. Will we ever be able to put this behind us and get back on track?

  12. I am 61 and still have shame and feelings of worthlessness due to sibling sexual abuse when I was younger. My biggest anger is presently at my mother who never seemed to be aware of it! My brother has asked for forgiveness, but my mother is clueless and it makes me still angry.

  13. I wondered if my story would be classed as sibling abuse I was 6years old and my 2 older sisters their ages were 15 and 17years old at the time used to send me up to my drunk father when he was in bed he abused me they did this so as he would not abuse them I later went on to be abused my my older sisters now ex husband when I was 12 years old she ignored what was happening and I did eventually go to court although it was thrown out on a tecnocality none of them have ever said sorry my older sister now lives in Canada and I am still trying to come to terms with what happened to me I am now 59 years old

    • Yvonne your story is so horrific, I am so sorry that these things were done to you! I am crying for your childhood self, being treated so horribly by all the people who should have been protecting you, instead they abused you. You must be so strong to have come through such atrocities, stay strong, remember that you did nothing wrong, your sisters and father are disgusting and should be in prison!!! x

  14. I am now 41 but the things that were done to me when I was 6 and 7 years old still anger me because nothing was ever done about it and I never received an apology from my step-sister for what she did to me. To this day she still denies it and tells anyone who will listen that I am lying and I made it all up. leaving me to fell helpless.

  15. I am currently 19 years old. When I was 4-6 years old, my sister and I were sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by our older sister. She was very physically abusive and would beat us. She forced us to watch pornography- cartoons and real life. Then she had us start playing doctor. At first she had us “explore” her. She would sneak us into her room once our parents went to sleep. It then turned into her being the doctor and experimenting on me and my sister by sexually inserting different objects into us. This went on for years. Our parents would always leave her in charge to watch us. Eventually, I felt so dirty and disgusted by myself, I began to refuse her advances. My other sister didn’t realize it was wrong. Our abuser made me feel like I was missing out on something fun, but by age 5-6, I knew it was wrong. One night, I told my parents. I remember telling them that she touches us, and made us play Doctor. They caught her in the act with my sister, and I’m pretty sure my dad whipped them both. After that, I knew that they were still sneaking around at night and doing things. I’m not sure when it stopped, but eventually it did. Our abuser, then unable to take advantage of us sexually, began physically abusing us more, now that she was getting older, our parents left her alone to babysit us more often. They must have thought that everything was okay. She did many horrible things to us, but her favorites were locking us in dark closets, or sitting on top of us with a bean bag- I believe her constant abuse led to my spinal and lung problems. My parents never once held her accountable for the awful things she did to us, no matter how much we told them. They did give her punishments, and take away privileges, but never once did they make her admit or apologize for her disgusting abuse against me and my sister. Now that we are grown, I still have trouble looking at her. She is 23, my other sister is 21. She has continued to abuse me emotionally and verbally throughout adulthood. She constantly steals from me and lies. I no longer feel safe in my home when she comes to visit, and although I have never spoke to my parents about what she did to us- that she molested me and my sister, they know what a liar and manipulator she is, yet the still do nothing. I feel as if they reward her and defend her even after all of these horrible things she has done and continues to do. I told them I cannot have her staying with me when she visits if she is going to be disrespectful and a theif. They act like its just a silly sibling rivalry. It’s not, and it kills me on the inside to be constantly paranoid while she is here. This is the first time I have spoken out about this publicly. It is very difficult to even type all of this, but I’d rather share my story with strangers who have similar experiences, then to keep it bottled up. Thank you for reading my lost. I truly have the deepest sympathy for all others who have had sibling or parental sexual, emotional, and physical abuse.

  16. shannon,

    i read your words and could feel your pain, i am so sorry that this has happened to you. you are very brave for sharing your memories and your heart…

    i began a healing journey approx 9 years ago, and am now coming to a place of ease , maybe even peace. i found a few good counselors, found free energy/reiki and body work…cried, panicked, rested, shared and am always in the process of growth, healing. i help others if i can, observe in silence, and sometimes talk my face off (like now:-) sometimes, i just sit with people, let them know that i care, and am wishing them well, listen to their release of pain. let them know that this is good,m this purging of muck… at least it was for me.

    i am rambling , thank you for your patience.

    what happened in your life is so sad, horrific. have you ever heard of a book:

    The PostTraummatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook by Schiraldi. (PDF)

    http://www.imd.inder.cu/adjuntos/article/517/Post%20Traumatic%20Stress%20Disorder%20Sourcebook.pdf

    also, i came across this inspiring person:
    “my art of care” (Garrett – you are amazing and you are my HERO! thank you….ps, love your smile!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH3h3egRGkc&list=FL_qn6OviNDkSN58Pp4QBdBQ

    take care shannon, i wish you well

    k

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