Sibling Incest

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J Fam Viol (2009) 24:531–537 DOI 10.1007/s10896-009-9251-6


Sibling Incest: A Model for Group Practice with Adult Female Victims of Brother–Sister Incest Kacie M. Thompson

Published online: 5 June 2009 # Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Abstract Working with groups of people who have been sexually abused introduces mutual experiential themes into the process that can be beneficial and meaningful. This paper discusses brother–sister incestuous sexual abuse with implications for group work. Literature and research is reviewed concerning sexual abuse, incest, family relationships, and theories that aid in explaining incest. Themes covered include: effects of incest, coping methods, blaming, and family of the victim. Common themes are explored and implications for group work are suggested on the basis of length, detail, structure, content, and pre-group contact. Keywords Sibling incest . Group practice . Group therapy Sibling incest is widely believed by researchers and clinicians to the most common type of incest (Carlson et al. 2006). Historically, the issue of father–daughter incest has been most often referred to when speaking of incest as a form of sexual abuse; and the concept of sibling incest has been ignored. Despite the high occurrence of sibling incest and its negative effects, attention to this issue by the family, researchers, and professionals has been lacking (Bass et al. 2006). In fact, violence between siblings is much more prevalent than child abuse by parents (Kiselica and MorrillRichards 2007). The purpose of this discussion is to highlight the experience of victims of sibling incest by shedding light on their feelings, thoughts, and mental and emotional issues that are a result of incestuous abuse. Based on the understanding of the sibling relationship and aspects of sibling incest, a model for group therapy is introduced K. M. Thompson (*) University of Montana, Missoula, MT, USA e-mail:

for adult female victims of brother–sister incest. Aspects, such as sibling relationships, effects of brother sister incest, the family, blaming, coping, and theoretical frameworks, are discussed to inform group work with victims.

The Sibling Relationship & Incest Siblings share a unique relationship bound by genetics, social class, history, and family connections. The sibling relationship often outlasts many other relationships (Bass et al. 2006). The sibling relationship is unique in longevity and can be one of the most influential relationships in one’s life. Because of this, the impact siblings have on one another should not be underestimated (Kiselica and Morrill-Richards 2007). This unique relationship that siblings share is sometimes the reason why incidences of sibling incest are regarded as “sexual curiosity”. This view of sexual curiosity is often accepted by family members and the details of that curiosity are not fully understood (McVeigh 2003). Sibling incest is defined as sexual behavior between siblings that is not age appropriate, not transitory, and not motivated by developmentally appropriate curiosity. Sexual abuse between siblings is not limited to intercourse. It has been shown that unwanted sexual advances, sexual leers, and forcing a sibling to view pornographic material can have as much of a psychological impact on the victim as actual intercourse (Kiselica and Morrill-Richards 2007). There are many forms of sexual abuse, but the negative effect incest poses on the victim and the family cannot be ignored. The sibling relationship and the causes of sibling incest have been addressed in several ways. Some authors such as McVeigh (2003), note the importance of the power dynamic between the brother and sister, as that dynamic is caused by age difference and gender expectations. Haskins (2003)


J Fam Viol (2009) 24:531–537

states that incest with a younger sibling by an older sibling is motivated largely by urges to satisfy...
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