Good Sibling Abuse – Causes, Factors And Repercussions Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Violence, Sibling, Family, Bullying, Abuse, Children, Sexual Abuse, Victimology

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/12/17

This paper aims to elaborate upon sibling abuse and the repercussions that victims have to face due to it. Sibling abuse whether physical or sexual tends to produce long lasting and alarming effects on a victim’s mind which is why this issue should not be taken lightly and must be treated aptly and accordingly. In addition to this specific area of study the causes of sibling abuse will also be discussed in order to understand the phenomena better. Understanding the causes of sibling abuse is of key importance to understand it repercussions for victims and the paper will cover these causes in great detail. The paper will include an in-depth exploration of 1) causes and factors of sibling abuse, 2) the repercussions of sibling abuse on a victim’s mind, and 3) the types of aid and rehabilitation a victim of sibling abuse requires in order to be able to function normally.

Causes and Factors

Sibling abuse refers to mistreatment of one sibling from the hands of one sibling to another. This abuse can include both physical as well as sexual abuse inflicted by one sibling on other dues to a number of reasons. There are various reasons for sibling abuse which include jealousy, insecurity and often sexual frustration in cases of sibling sexual abuse.
One of the most foremost causes of sibling abuse is disruption in the dynamics of the particular family. McLaurin 2005 states that homes which are victims of domestic violence and conflicts between parents are often most likely to be victims of sibling abuse too. This is mostly due to the fact that children often mirror their parents and at an early age some children develop the tendency to hit their parents or act violently onwards a sibling simply because they see their parents do the same to each other. This is often fueled by a child’s need to release pent up fear, frustration and anger towards the fact that their parents are involved in a violent relationship.
Another leading cause of sibling abuse is the natural need of humans to sustain themselves and fulfill their basic desires. Home in which parents provide favored attention to children and prefer one child over the other often are plagued with the serious issue of sibling abuse. Gil (2006) states that these children when neglected wish to fulfill their own needs and feel that their sibling is the cause of their dilemma. Hence they tend to “act out” and behave violently towards the sibling as a means to try and attain their parents’ undivided attention and affection. These children are merely trying to compensate for the lack of attention given to them and are not “purposely” victimizing themselves. Their reaction is a survival instinct and younger or more favored siblings serve as the perfect outlet. Gil (2006) also states that social-structural violence is the root cause of sibling violence and abuse. This refers to the inability of the parents to provide adequately for their children due to their living and working conditions. Children in these cases who have to compromise on their material, psychological and social needs resort to inflicting violence on their siblings. This kind of “social-structural violence” rises out of the various issues and standards set by society such as social, economic and emotional stability. Parents who are not able to meet these standards often fail to fulfill their children’s needs and this starts the vicious cycle of sibling abuse.
Another main cause of sibling abuse is the failure of parents to acknowledge the issue. Parents often tend to ignore sibling abuse mostly due to the fact that they view it as a form of sibling rivalry and “friendly sibling fighting”. Due to the lack of awareness about this issue, parents often fail to grasp the seriousness of it which is why there is a dire need for awareness to be created about it. It is also important to distinguish the difference between normal sibling rivalry and fights and acts of violence by siblings inflicted upon one another. McLaurin (2005) claims that siblings are known to fight with each other when they are in their developmental age however the point of alarm is when serious accidents and violent fights seem to happen between them. This is when parents need to step and assure that they handle this issue properly before it becomes a major point of concern for them as well as the parents. At times there is a need for psychological help for the violent child and parents must not hesitate in approaching professionals regarding this.
Sibling sexual abuse is the most serious kinds of sibling abuse and is caused mostly due to pent up frustration built in one of the siblings. This type of sibling abuse if not detected in a timely fashion can prove to be very damaging for the victims. According to Morrill & Bachman (2012) this occurs mostly due to lack of sexual education and awareness in some cases among children and also inadequate outlets for sexual release. This type of abuse also occurs when parents are unable to provide a functional sexual model for their children and are themselves model of inappropriate sexual behavior. This just like domestic violence between partners tends to be the basis of mirroring the actions of their parents by children.
There are various factors which are responsible for the perpetration of sibling abuse in addition to these causes. The foremost of these include the inability of the victim to comprehend and understand what is happening to them. Younger children often do not understand the complexity of this issue and fail to speak up against it. At times they do not even realize that they are victims however keep getting disturbed subconsciously because of their failure to understand the phenomena. This is why children at very young ages need to be told the bounds of acceptable and non-acceptable social behavior. They also mildly need to be educated against sexual advances in order for them to be able to comprehend them. Societal and peer pressure as mentioned above also is a major factor for this issue. Peer pressure especially is one of the largest factors due to which sibling abuse is increased between children of young ages. Young children who have friends without siblings tend to feel that their friends are more “privileged” because and hence act violently towards their siblings.
Eriksen & Jensen (2006) note that bullying is another factor which fuels the process of sibling abuse for children. Children who are bullied are more likely to be aggressive towards their younger siblings and are known for hitting them and showing outwards signs of violent behavior. Unstable family dynamics and instability between the primary relationships is another factor which proves to be the cause of aggressive behavior between siblings. Parents, who are separated, divorced or in an unhappy marriage are more likely to produce unsafe and volatile conditions for children leading to violence between them. Psychological instability is also a major factor for sibling abuse and gives way to psychological sibling abuse which a very serious concern. Children suffering from this are victimized by their siblings mostly emotionally however there are cases when the sibling tends to get physically violent. This could be due to pressures at home or even due to some sort of psychological disorder a child is going through. This is one of the leading factors which give way to sibling abuse and must be dealt with adequate professional help if required.

Repercussions and Effects on Victims

Sibling abuse can have long-lasting and damaging effects on victims and might disrupt their future relationship dynamics as well. This proves to be the case especially for children who are victimized from an early age. These children often find it hard to maintain trusting relationships later on in life and grow up with a constant fear of being hurt in all the relationships that they build. Button & Gealt (2009), note that the initial danger posed by sibling abuse to the mind of a victim is the development of neurological and psychological disorders. These include depression, low self-esteem which can have a damaging effect on the mental stability of a victim’s mind. Victims in middle or high school also develop the tendencies to sometimes become aggressive and violent themselves. They resort to destroying possessions and bullying other children which is a clear affirmation to the vicious cycle of violence related to sibling abuse.
Sibling abuse victims often tend to grow up to have relationships which are violent and driven by the need to inflict physical or psychological pain on their partners. This is mostly due to the traumas that they receive in their childhoods and believe it to be a form of gaining intimacy with their partner. It is common knowledge that victims of violence often tend to grow up to become violent themselves and this is accurate for sibling abuse as well. Simonelli, Mullis, Elliott & Pierce (2002) state that sibling violence at an early age causes disrupted dynamics in a child’s mind and they often feel the need to prove dominance over others through violence as they grow up. This happens to be true for sexual and romantic relationships as well.
Sibling sexual abuse has serious repercussions on the mental health of the victims. It is one of the worst forms of child abuse and gives way to a lot of negative implications in a victim’s life. The impacts of sibling sexual abuse on children are much greater than that on adults. Children who are victimized actually miss out on major developmental stages of their lives due to the fact that they are burdened with the load of inability to comprehend what is happening to them. There are also other adverse effects of sibling sexual abuse which includes premature sexualization. Morrill (2014) claims that children tend to become sexually restless in such cases and often have a hard time developing relationships with other children their age because they are sexually confused. They also sometimes tend to become introverted and anti-social as they do not know who among society they can trust with ease and comfort. Victimized children are in need of professional help which should be provided to them in order to avoid their transition into adulthood without this traumatic baggage.
The transition of sexually abused children into adulthood becomes quite difficult as they suffer from confusion regarding sexuality and mistrust among peers. College is a particularly stress full time in the lives of young adults and victims of sexual child abuse at this stage develop a strong sense of low self-efficacy. They have a hard time functioning in a healthy environment and often do not know how to cope up with the dynamics of it. As mentioned above in terms of sibling physical abuse, sibling sexual abuse also casts a violent overshadow on the relationships of the victims. They are in danger of developing highly violent, sexual tendencies which is why they have a hard time developing normal and healthy intimate relationships with their partners.
Another serious issue which rises out of sibling abuse relationships is the inability of victims to have normal and functioning relationships with the other siblings. Anxiety, stress and at times fear causes victims to mistrust other siblings as well whether or not they inflict abuse of any kind on them. According to Mackey, Fromuth & Kelly (2009), in some case sibling abuse leads to severe sibling rivalry and aggression between the abuser and victim. This can prove to be very serious as it can lead to serious accidents and involve one or both of the siblings getting hurt seriously.

Prevention and Intervention for Victims and Offenders

As mentioned above, victims of sibling abuse require professional intervention which should be provided to them in a timely fashion in order for them to transition into life without mental trauma. Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro (2005) argue that first and foremost parents need to be careful and observant of their children if they catch their children having severe and violent fights or expressing sexual curiosity towards one another. They need to be accepting of the fact that this is a serious issue and must not be taken lightly. Once, it is established that their children are perpetrators or victims of sibling abuse, they must not hesitate in taking necessary action needed to provide intervention to both. Victims are undoubtedly traumatized and require professional attention however it cannot be denied that offenders need to be provided with rehabilitation and counselling in order to stabilize their state of mind
There are various other things which parents must take care of in order to avoid sibling abuse. They should ascertain that their equal attention in terms of material as well as emotional needs be given to children. This prevents negative feeling of siblings towards one another and ensures the ability to form healthy relationships among them. Awareness and appropriate sex education must also be given to children in order to prevent sibling sexual abuse from occurring between children. Parental control should also be ensured over the kind of media which children have access to in order to make certain that they do not prematurely start exploring their sexuality and victimizing their siblings in the process.


Button, D., & Gealt, R. (2009). High Risk Behaviors Among Victims of Sibling Violence. J Fam Viol, 25(2), 131-140. doi:10.1007/s10896-009-9276-x
Eriksen, S., & Jensen, V. (2006). All in the Family? Family Environment Factors in Sibling Violence. J Fam Viol, 21(8), 497-507. doi:10.1007/s10896-006-9048-9
Gil, D. (2006). Sibling Abuse in Nature and Culture. Contemporary Justice Review, 9(3), 283-285. doi:10.1080/10282580600827967
Mackey, A., Fromuth, M., & Kelly, D. (2009). The Association of Sibling Relationship and Abuse With Later Psychological Adjustment. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 25(6), 955-968. doi:10.1177/0886260509340545
McLaurin, S. (2005). Childhood Experiences of Sibling Abuse: An Investigation into Learned Helplessness (Ph.D). Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Morrill, M. (2014). Sibling Sexual Abuse: An Exploratory Study of Long-term Consequences for Self-esteem and Counseling Considerations. J Fam Viol, 29(2), 205-213. doi:10.1007/s10896-013-9571-4
Morrill, M., & Bachman, C. (2012). Confronting the Gender Myth: An Exploration of Variance in Male Versus Female Experience With Sibling Abuse. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 28(8), 1693-1708. doi:10.1177/0886260512468324
Simonelli, C., Mullis, T., Elliott, A., & Pierce, T. (2002). Abuse by Siblings and Subsequent Experiences of Violence Within the Dating Relationship. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 17(2), 103-121. doi:10.1177/0886260502017002001

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