There is consensus in child sexual abuse (CSA) literature with respect to the central role of the disclosure process. However, CSA disclosure is challenging for all children, those who have experienced intrafamilial abuse. In recent years, there has been growing research into sibling sexual abuse (SSA), which is a prevalent and severe, but also the least studied form of intrafamilial CSA. This study was designed to advance theory on SSA disclosure by examining the narratives of adults who have disclosed the abuse and discuss it with reference to the perceived role of disclosure recipients—including perpetrating siblings, parents, and professionals. In-depth interviews with 25 adults were conducted and analyzed thematically. The results highlighted the significance of disclosure for survivors, as well as the central roles played by significant others in the process, including the offending and nonoffending siblings, parents, and professionals. The discussion addresses the important role of the family system in the disclosure narratives. The conclusions point to the need of all actors taking part in the disclosure itself, as well as in the survivors’ lives postdisclosure, to become “better” disclosure recipients by acknowledging survivors’ needs. This in turn would also empower survivors to disclose their stories and cope with the potential familial and societal ramifications of their disclosure.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Most of the interviews in this study were conducted by graduate social work students as part of their fulfillment of the requirements for a seminar on the topic. We are grateful to the students for the time and effort they invested in conducting the interviews, for their dedication to deal this complex and difficult research topic, and most importantly, for their help in giving voice to adult survivors of SSA. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
© The Author(s) 2020.
- adults survivors of CSA
- child sexual abuse (CSA) disclosure
- disclosure recipients
- sibling sexual abuse (SSA)