Because of the stigma surrounding sibling sexual abuse, not a lot is known about the psychology behind it; of both the perpetrator and the victim. Many cases of sibling abuse go unreported because parents either ignore it or are in denial about it. It is the parents’ responsibility to recognize the signs and protect the children from the horrible effects sibling sexual abuse can have on the victims and the family as a whole.
Sibling sexual abuse can have devastating effects on the whole family. But, the victims of the abuse are the ones that suffer the most. As the abuse is happening in their own home, they can feel trapped; especially if the abuse continues for a long time. They would do anything to get out, but the fear of an older sibling keeps them quite. The confidence of the victim can be shattered and they may never recover from the effect.
The trust that exists between siblings can be shattered as a result of the physical and sexual abuse. The older sibling is not the only ones that can lose the victims trust; they will also stop trusting their parents. Children expect their parents to keep them safe and when that doesn’t happen; they feel betrayed by their parents as well.
Either because of fear or pressure of the older sibling, the victims are not able to change their situation. This can make them feel that they are incapable of doing anything to stop the abuse. This feeling can take root in them and stay with them even in their adult life.
Young children believe almost anything an adult or older sibling tells them. In sibling sexual abuse situations, when they are told that they are ‘bad’ and they deserve what is happening to them, it can make them feel responsible.
The longer the abuse is allowed to continue, the more calamitous the results will be. The abusers can increase the intensity of their abuse over time and no matter what you believe, they will never grow out of it. You should put a stop to it as soon as you learn about the situation and seek help for both the victim and the offender.
Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.