Adopted Sibling Abuse In Dysfunctional Biological Family
The dysfunctional biological family that uses adoption to replace the child that has died, the family does not recover from their tragedy, they re-direct their grief which morphs into anger.
In fact the addition of the adopted child creates the focus for the family's grief and turns their suffering into hostility toward the adopted child that is directed at the adopted child by the rejecting adoptive mother.
Through the adoptive mother's ambiguity toward the outsider adopted child, the biological children become their mother's enforcer of punishment of the outsider adopted child that is the constant source of their mother's provoking.
Through the biological children's observations of their mother's chronic discontent, hostility and anger toward the adopted child, they too become angry and feel hostility toward the adopted child. The biological siblings see the adopted child as the source of their mother's burden.
The biological siblings punish and enforce the adopted child at all times and receive from their biologically bonded mother, continued love, acceptance and comfort existing within the inside group cohesion. When the outsider adopted child is implicated, constantly punished and maintained as the family's burden and scapegoat, family cohesion is also maintained.
The biological siblings maintain the mother's strict enforcement of the adopted child that the adopted child remains submissive and dominated at all times especially in the mothers absence.
Although the abuse of the adopted child is never verbally requested, the biological children are driven by the behavior of their mother toward the outsider adopted child. The biological siblings assign blame on the adopted child that is directly responsible for their mother's unhappiness, hostility and anger, that is a direct and constant threat to their biological family life.
- Vernon Wiehe of the University of Kentucky estimates that up to 53% of children have committed at least one act of severe aggression towards a sibling, making sibling abuse more common than child abuse by parents and spousal abuse combined.
- Hotaling, Straus, & Lincoln found that sibling aggression was somewhat common even in families that could not be classified as pervasively abusive, with 37% of 498 children committing at least one act of serious abuse during the previous year; in abusive families, 100% of children committed at least one act of serious abuse.
- Similarly, Whipple and Finton report that "Psychological maltreatment between siblings is one of the most common yet often underrecognized forms of child abuse."
- Irfan and Cowburn report that in Pakistani immigrant families in the UK, "Among perpetrators of abuse, 35% (highest proportion) of physical abuse was perpetrated by siblings, 33% by mothers and 19% by fathers."
- Several studies show that sisters are more likely to be victimized by brothers than vice versa. However, sisters can also abuse brothers, and traditional gender roles can allow such abuse to go unchecked: Schwartz and colleagues found that while women are more likely to use physical aggression during disagreements, parents are more likely to view male aggression more negatively than female aggression, even when the abusive acts are identical (e.g., boys throwing objects during a fight is seen as a more serious transgression than girls throwing objects during a fight). Similarly, Tyree and Malone report that women's violence as adults is more strongly correlated with aggression towards siblings during childhood.
- Caffaro, J. & Conn-Caffaro, A. (1998; 2005) report, based on their research, that adult sibling abuse survivors have much higher rates of emotional cutoff (39%) with brothers and sisters than what is evident in the general population (<6%) Sibling abuse is also an act of violence, not just verbally.
Sibling sexual abuse
- Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro (1998; 2005) define sibling sexual abuse as sexual behavior between siblings for which the victim is not developmentally prepared, which is not transitory, and which does not reflect age-appropriate curiosity. It may or may not involve physical touching, coercion, or force.
- Bank and Kahn found that most sibling incest fell into one of two categories: "nurturance-oriented incest" and "power-oriented incest". The former is characterized by expressions of affection and love, while the latter is characterized by force and domination.
- Rudd and Herzberger report that brothers who committed incest were more likely to use force than fathers who commit incest (64% vs. 53%). Similarly, Cyr and colleagues found that about 70% of sibling incest involved sexual penetration, substantially higher than other forms of incest.
- Bass and colleagues write that "sibling incest occurs at a frequency that rivals and may even exceed other forms of incest," yet only 11% of studies into child sex abuse examined sibling perpetrators.
- Ryan writes how, "Child protection has focused on adult-child [sexual] relationships, yet we know that more than 40% of all juvenile-perpetrated child sexual abuse is perpetrated in sibling relationships."
- Rayment and Owen report that "compared the offending patterns of sibling offenders with other teenage sex offenders [...] Sibling abusers admitted to more sexual offences, had a longer offending history and a majority engaged in more intrusive sexual behaviour than other adolescent sex offenders. The sibling perpetrator has more access to the victim and exists within a structure of silence and guilt."
- A survey of eight hundred college students reported by David Finkelhor in Journal of Marriage and Family Counseling found that fifteen percent of females and ten percent of males had been sexually abused by a sibling.
Sibling abuse vs. sibling rivalry
- One child always avoids their sibling
- A child has changes in behavior, sleep patterns, eating habits, or has nightmares
- A child acts out abuse in play
- A child acts out sexually in inappropriate ways
- The children’s roles are rigid: one child is always the aggressor, the other, the victim
- The roughness or violence between siblings is increasing over time
Systemic Risk and Protective Factors Associated with Sibling Abuse
- Parental unavailability and lack of adequate supervision of children in the home
- Attachment difficulties in which parents may be physically available but emotionally absent
- Ineffective parenting
- Low levels of parental acceptance and involvement linked to higher levels of sibling conflict
- Parental favoritism
- Sibling relations characterized by power imbalances, role rigidity, and unclear boundaries
- Consistent disregard for siblings' personal and psychological space
- Families with distressed marriages and high levels of parent-child and spousal conflict
- Relationship between family functioning and larger ecosystem factors such as sexism in society or pornography
- Father's level of positive involvement with sons closely associated with stability of sibling behavioral problems
- Quality of mother-child interaction mediating effects of overt martial conflict on older siblings' tendency to behave aggressively
- Parental warmth and involved interactions; consistent, nonpunitive discipline management
- Affectional ties with alternative caregivers including grandparents and older siblings
- Presence and ability to make use of community support systems (i.e., neighbors, teachers, friends)
- Parents learning to create balance between overinvolvement in siblings' affairs and a lack of protective, competent parenting.