“I Love and Hate Him in the Same Breath”: Relationships of Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse With Their Perpetrating Siblings

Dafna Tener*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

The term sibling sexual abuse (SSA) captures a broad continuum of sexual behaviors in childhood and adolescence that exceed the threshold of age-appropriate curiosity. Based on a sample of 15 adult survivors of SSA, this qualitative study examines experiences of relationships with perpetrating siblings during childhood and adulthood. Thematic analysis of semistructured qualitative interviews reveals two continua that characterize SSA survivors’ lives: the “reciprocity–coercion” continuum in childhood and the “distance–closeness” continuum in adulthood. Findings reveal that regardless of how the relationships were perceived in childhood, most participants chose to distance themselves from their perpetrating siblings as adults. Thus, even in cases where the relationships were considered mutual during childhood, reconceptualization of the abuse in adulthood led to renewed understanding of its meanings and implications for the survivors’ personal lives. Research findings underscore the need to further study the experiences of SSA survivors to better inform policy makers, therapists, and welfare workers, to address the complex and multifaceted nature of SSA, and to provide adequate interventions to survivors and other family members.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)NP6844-NP6866
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Volume36
Issue number13-14
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.

Keywords

  • adult survivors of child sexual abuse
  • child sexual abuse
  • perpetrating sibling
  • perpetrator–survivor relationships
  • sibling sexual abuse (SSA)
  • survivors’ experiences

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