The strong sense of embarrassment, shame and guilt that surrounds these violations often also leads to the fact that many survivors can no longer remember the sexual abuse they suffered in childhood by another sibling.
The most taboo aspect of sibling abuse is when the boys expose their brothers to sexual abuse.
US scientists believe that sexual abuse among siblings is more common than both physical and emotional sibling abuse. But this assumption may be due to the fact that victims of sexual abuse more often tend to seek help than those who suffer emotional and physical sibling abuse. The contradictive messages that often surround the physical and emotional violations can also make it particularly difficult for the victims to determine whether abuse actually has taken place and that in turn leads to them more rarely asking for help.
As for sexual sibling abuse, most children usually do not fight back. But in case they do so or say no and thus demonstrating their right to protect themselves, that in turn can actually lead to the termination of the abuse. The most common way for children to respond is instead to pretend to sleep. Other ways to respond is simply to submit to the violations. The youngest victims may not even understand or are aware of what happens when they are involved in their older siblings’ sexual play. It’s probably not until several years later when they realize the facts, that they feel shame and guilt for their actions, despite the fact that they had no choice.
Sexual curiosity among children is normal. But where does one draw the line between curiosity and abuse?
In cases where both children are very young and about the same age, there is often a natural curiosity between the sexes. A three year old boy, for example, may wonder why his little sister does not have a penis. This is normal. Sometimes boys and girls in pre-school age also pull down their pants and show each other what they look like. This is a normal behaviour as well.
But if a teenage boy is watching his five-year old little sister instead while she is changing, and wonder what it would feel like to touch her, then this is an abusive behaviour.
Now the entry is over for this time. Please, take care of yourself and others. Thank you. See you if you wish to, next week.
You are welcome to comment if you like, but please do so with respect and good judgment.
Book: Perilous rivalry Vernon R. Wiehe, Teresa Herring, 1991
Book: Sibling abuse by Vernon R. Wiehe, 1997
© Helén Varenius – text and photo