Sexual abuse and Incest

Introduction Society’s awareness of sibling incest and assault, and its response, has lagged behind other child abuse issues and concerns. In comparison with parent child abuse, inter-sibling abuse is generally underreported by parents, teachers, mental health professionals, and the community. Child Protective Services and the legal system are reluctant to accept and respond to sibling abuse reports that are filed (Caffaro & Caffaro, 2005). Research studies on sibling incest are lacking which may be due to parents who discover their children engaging in sexual acts are usually not inclined to call child protective services.

Also sibling incest has a myth surrounding in that label it benign with no side effects (Mitchell, 1995, p. 75). Definition Incest may be defined as sexual relations between close blood relatives, e. g. , between a child and the father or uncle, between siblings; or in its broader sense, between a child and a stepparent or stepsibling. Incest is a taboo in all countries. Legally, incest and sexual aggression toward minors are classified as a criminal behavior. It has psychological, social, medical, and legal ramifications.

Recently, it was reported that being the victim of paternal incest during childhood might be a significant predictor of a borderline personality disorder and complex posttraumatic stress in adults. Although father–daughter incest is the most common, incest can also involve other family members, especially brothers and sisters. The incest victim of a father and/or brother relationship may manifest more severe distress, than the victim of a stepfather (Celbis et al, 2006). Causes and symptoms There can a number of reasons for sibling abuse occurring.

Firstly, parents may give responsibility to older sibling to take care of younger children, who in fact is not mature enough emotionally to act as a surrogate parent. Secondly, parents may be caught up with their own busy lifestyle to effectively parenting their children. Thirdly, even after knowing about the abuse, they fail to check it due to ineffective parenting (Mitchell, 1995, p. 75). There are fewer signs and symptoms of sibling incest than parental incest due to the fact that sibling incest is less disruptive to the functioning of the family and hence less likely to be discovered.

Fewer signs and symptoms of traumatization could facilitate maintaining the secret (Schetky & Green, 1988, p. 130). Long term psychological symptoms of incest include depression, anxiety, psychiatric disorder, drug and alcohol use, borderline personality disorder, somitization disorder and eroticization. However, the severity of the symptoms depends on a number of factors such as frequency and duration, relation to perpetrator, use of violence oe force, type of abuse, age of victim, age difference between the perpetrator and victim, and parental support variable (Schetky, 1990, p.32).

Effects of sibling incest The incestuous relation can ruin the victims’ lives in many aspects. Daughters who have been sexually abused reported lower levels of self-esteem about their intellectual and school status, resulting in lower academic achievement at school, marital problems and also job failure (Dadds et al, 1991). Relationship difficulties, developmental effects limiting the sibling’s ability to form meaningful relationships within his or her peer group, and dysfunctional family dynamics are also evident with survivors of sibling incest.

Although the effect of sibling incest is thought to be insignificant compared to father-daughter incest, the damage can still be considerable. When coercion, threats, or other forms of abuse of power have taken place, the damage can be considerable (Hagood, 2000, p. 151). The traumatic impact of sibling incest will depend on a series of factors including the type of molestation, frequency, duration, and extent of the sexual contact, the degree of coercion and physical force applied, the discrepancy of age between the siblings, and the nature of the sibling relationship.

Long term sibling incest involving coercion and physical threats with a significance difference in age between the perpetrator and the victim is likely to be more damaging than a mutually consensual exploratory sexual contact between siblings close in age (Schetky & Green, p. 131). Treatment of sibling incest In the past few years, physical child abuse and neglect has been recognized by mental health agencies as an important target for prevention and treatment. Child sexual abuse is generally defined and discussed as one type of physical child abuse.

However, there is no conclusive evidence that physical and sexual abuse is analogous phenomena, that they occur in the same families, or that similar treatment strategies are effective with both. However, sexual abuse is definitely not a type of physical abuse and treatment ranges from therapeutic to psychological (Dixen & Jenkins, 1981). The unique circumstances of child sexual abuse treatment frequently require a modification of traditional systemic approaches.

In treating victims or perpetrators of sibling violence, safety and accountability are front and center issues for the clinician. According to Larson and Maddock (1986) that family treatment is not always possible or acceptable. Family-based therapy may be one aspect of a multidimensional approach to treatment that includes individual, group, and family intervention. The patient’s readiness is a prime criterion for determining the wisdom of family involvement.

Treatment considerations must take into account the developmental stage and readiness of the incest survivor and treatment must be coordinated with the needs and capacities of the client. There is a clear danger inherent in rigid approaches, which expect all families to fit the same theories of causation and methods of treatment. Differing cultural expectations influence the developmental course of relationships between parents and children, as well as between siblings. The ability to recognize these differences is important when assessing and intervening in sibling incest and assault dyads.

And because abuse trauma is likely to involve multiple areas of functioning, sibling assessment must be an ongoing part of treatment rather than a static process that precedes therapy (Caffero & Caffero, 1998). Intervention measures Prevention of child abuse is considered a priority by many of the pioneers in this field and they emphasized this need in their writings. Treatment programs carried out through federal funding not only included families with history of child sexual abuse but also taken into account at risk population.

As far as physical abuse is concerned, treatment and prevention is often combined for conceptualization of theoretical models intervention systems (Daro, 1994). Faller suggested that preventive measures of child sexual abuse should be done in a collaborative way. Interdisciplinary collaboration in the form of services of social workers, police, lawyers, or mental health professionals can help tackling the issue in a professional and exhaustive way and help reduce stress in an incestuous family.

Victim centered intervention approach suggested by professionals takes into consideration victim’s best interest. Not to put the child sex abuse victims to additional trauma exposure, Faller stretched the need of intervention measures that diminishes trauma and sense of powerlessness in a child (Faller, 1993). Conclusion The incestuous child sexual abuse treatment literature is found to be riddled with methodological problems such as insufficient control of extraneous variables, inadequate measures including anecdotal treatment outcome evidence, small samples, and lack of follow-up data.

Therefore, the state of the art of treating incestuous abusers and victims is insufficiently developed to dictate which treatment is most effective. A combination of treatment strategies that appears to have considerable potential is behavior therapy to change the father’s incestuous behavior with daughters, marital therapy to improve the husband-wife relationship, and family therapy for all family members. It is apparent that a high degree of motivation is necessary for the incestuous family to complete this type of extensive treatment.

Although research is needed on many aspects of incestuous behavior, the literature is particularly scanty in demarcation of treatment strategies for the long-term effects of incest (Dixen & Jenkins, 1981). Treatment for child sexual abuse and incest requires multidisciplinary cooperation and usually, the coordination of services among several provider systems. Like child abuse treatment in general, it is complex and challenging work that requires ongoing specialized training and ability. Systematic and cross cultural studies are also called for to fill the lacuna in research.

References Broden, M. S. , & Agresti, A. A. (1998) Responding to therapists’ sexual abuse of adult incest survivors: ethical and legal considerations, Psychotherapy, Vol. 35, issue 1, pp. 96-104 Caffaro, J. V. , & Caffaro, A. C. (2005) Treating sibling abuse families, Aggression and Violent Behavior, Vol. 10, issue 5, pp. 604-623 Caffaro, J. V. , & Caffaro, A. C. (1998) Sibling abuse trauma:

Assessment and intervention strategies for children, families, and adults, Haworth Press, New York, pp. 303 Celbis, O. , Ozcan, M. E., & Ozdemir, B (2006) Parental and sibling incest: a case report, Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine, Vol. 13, issue 1, pp. 37-40 Dadds, M. , Smith, M. , Webber, Y. , & Robinson, A (1991) An exploration of family and individual profiles following father–daughter incest, Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol 15, issue 4, pp. 575-586 Daro, D. A. (1994) Prevention of child sexual abuse, The Future of Children, Vol. 4, No. 2, Sexual abuse of children, pp. 198-223 Dixen, J & Jenkins, J. O. (1981).

Incestuous child sexual abuse: A review of treatment strategies, Clinical Psychology Review, Vol.1, pp. 211-222 Faller, K. C. (1993) Child sexual abuse: intervention and treatment issues, retrieved from url: http://www. childwelfare. gov/pubs/usermanuals/sexabuse/sexabuse. pdf Hagood, M. M. (2000) The use of art in counseling child and adult survivors of sexual abuse, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp. 269 Larson, N. R. , & Maddock, L (1986).

Structural and functional variables in incest family systems: Implications for assessment and treatment, Journal of Psychotherapy and the Family, Vol. 2, pp. 27–44 Mitchell, J.W. (1995) Rape of the innocent: Understanding and preventing child sexual abuse, Taylor and Francis, Philadelphia, U. S. A. , pp. 315 Schetky, D. H. , & Green, A. H. (1988) Child sexual abuse: A handbook for healthcare and legal professionals, Psychology Press, Routledge, London, pp. 248 Schetky, D. H. (1990).

“A review of the literature on the long term effects of childhood sexual abuse”, In Richard Kluft Eds: Incest related syndromes of adult psychopathology, American Psychiatric Press, Washington D. C. pp. 33-38.

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