Sibling coalitions in the context of parental child maltreatment

Carmit Katz*, Noa Cohen, Dafna Tener, Or Yuval Sharabi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Child maltreatment (CM) is a social and public health issue with a high global prevalence. However, sibling dynamics in the context of CM remain understudied. The present study aims to shed light on sibling relationships in the context of parental CM. The sample included 20 Israeli adult CM survivors who grew up with at least one sibling. In-depth interviews explored their experiences as children, with a focus on their relationship with their siblings. A thematic analysis identified the main theme of the formation, or lack thereof, of sibling coalitions in childhood and adulthood. Some participants described comforting and protective sibling relationships in childhood, whereas others told of conflictual or distant childhood relationships that developed into adulthood alliances. Others described perpetrating parents who attempted to disrupt the sibling relationship. The sibling relationship comprises complex dynamics and emotions, which can vary within a single sibling subsystem. The findings highlight the need to examine sibling dynamics throughout the lifespan and their relation to CM survivors' wellbeing. Regarding the spillover and compensation hypotheses, there is a need to explore the role of the perpetrating parent and their attempts to sabotage the sibling dynamic.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)279-290
Number of pages12
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Child & Family Social Work published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • child maltreatment
  • compensation
  • family dynamics
  • in-depth interviews
  • sibling subsystem
  • spillover


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