Victims' Retrospective Explanations of Sibling Sexual Violence

J Child Sex Abus. 2017 Oct;26(7):874-888. doi: 10.1080/10538712.2017.1354953. Epub 2017 Aug 2.


While sibling sexual abuse may be the most common form of sexual violence within the family, relatively few studies have been conducted on this topic. The current study addresses this gap in the literature through analyses of thematic categories in narratives gathered from an online survey of sibling sexual violence. Survivors were asked to report why they believed their siblings had become sexually abusive toward them. Participants believed that their abusers had learned to be abusive due to their own victimization or exposure to pornography, were abusive to establish dominance over them, or had some undisclosed mental illness. While the study does not claim to test these explanations or include abusers' own narratives, it offers insight as to how sibling sexual violence survivors make sense of their experiences and assign blame to abusers and their families. It also offers insights into future inquiries about sibling sexual abuse.

Keywords: adult survivor; family; incest; sibling abuse; victim.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incest / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Siblings / psychology*
  • Young Adult