Additionally, professionals who fail to recognize indicators and opportunities to foster victim disclosure may overlook the presence of sibling incest. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 9 3 , Their story startled the nation. In February , year-old twins Kellie and Kathie Henderson, sitting on the stage with Oprah Winfrey, told their horrific story of 10 years of sexual abuse by two brothers and, eventually, their father. Similarly, when specific presenting problems are identified, professionals may not consider deeper exploration of sibling relationship dynamics as especially relevant. Increasing public awareness of the problem to encourage other victims to disclose their secret spurred the Henderson sisters to appear on national television. Settings and Prevention Strategies The following are proactive strategies to promote and support disclosure of sibling sexual abuse according to service settings. As noted previously, sibling incest is underreported, rarely publicized, and not often included in formal assessment processes.
Social workers can be instrumental in uncovering sibling incest on both societal and individual levels. Clever offenders can use this sense of complicity to amplify feelings of mutuality and exacerbate feelings of guilt and shame for the victim, inhibiting the likelihood of disclosure and thus maintaining the secret. Sibling incest appears more likely to occur in large families characterized by physical and emotional violence, marital discord, explicit and implicit sexual tensions, and blurred intrafamilial boundaries. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10 5 , Proactive intervention by social workers to facilitate victim disclosure of sibling incest requires acceptance on the part of social workers that sibling sexual abuse is a prevalent social problem that may be affecting the populations they serve. This story of sibling and paternal sexual abuse reflects a social problem that is far greater than acknowledged by official statistics, policymakers, and service providers Finkelhor, As noted previously, sibling incest is underreported, rarely publicized, and not often included in formal assessment processes. Settings and Prevention Strategies The following are proactive strategies to promote and support disclosure of sibling sexual abuse according to service settings. Social workers are in a unique position to lead the effort to uncover the injuries of sibling incest and promote a climate that supports victims in disclosing their experiences and receiving appropriate services. Effective treatment typically involves mobilizing survivor strengths and social support networks. Consequently, professionals fail to assess for sibling sexual abuse because adult survivors are reluctant to relinquish this shameful and seemingly irrelevant aspect of their childhoods. Typically, there is a progression of the behaviors, evolving over time to increasingly explicit, invasive, and perhaps even coercive sexual activities. A survey on prevalence, variety, and effects. It is not uncommon for victims to minimize the importance of the incestuous behaviors as an embarrassing part of childhood. Ideally, a child advocate or case manager can ensure that the process of legal and therapeutic intervention is coordinated and responsive to the multiple needs of the child victim. As the abuse progresses and a victim grows aware of the meaning of the behaviors, he or she may become a reluctant participant and attempt to resist. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 54 3 , Adult disclosures rarely involve the criminal justice system and often occur in the context of therapeutic services. Researchers estimate that the rate of sibling incest may be five times the rate of parent-child sexual abuse Finkelhor, Failure to Recognize Abuse, Fear of Disclosure Many children fail to identify themselves as victims of sibling incest. In February , year-old twins Kellie and Kathie Henderson, sitting on the stage with Oprah Winfrey, told their horrific story of 10 years of sexual abuse by two brothers and, eventually, their father. Clinical Social Work Journal, 40 1 , Their story startled the nation. Adult survivors of sibling incest may not connect problems they are currently experiencing with their abusive history, rendering self-disclosure unlikely. Professional Failure to Identify Sibling Incest While conducting comprehensive assessments of dysfunctional families, professionals are likely to focus on the more salient aspects of family dynamics, with only a superficial examination of sibling relationships.
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