Although sibling sexual abuse (SSA) is one of the most common forms of sexual abuse, it has been particularly neglected in previous research. Hence, characteristics of this form of abuse and its longer term implications are not well understood. The aims of the current review were to precisely characterize the phenomenon of SSA and to condense the implications known to date of SSA on survivors. We included 15 studies with a total sample size of 14,680 individuals. Our results indicate that SSA has some unequivocal features such as an early onset, an extended duration and frequency, and a particularly high intensity (i.e., involvement of coercion, force, superiority, and manipulation). Our findings also revealed that SSA is linked to later depression, anxiety, impaired self-esteem, and sexual functioning. The findings of the current review suggest that (1) SSA is common, (2) SSA has various negative effects on survivors’ mental health, and that (3) SSA and its implications have been and to date are marginalized in research and practice. Results are discussed with a special focus on clinical implications.
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- brother–sister incest
- child sexual abuse among siblings
- family violence
- sibling incest
- sibling sexual abuse