Desire and Defense: Survivors of Sibling Abuse challenged by Intimacy (Amy Meyers, PhD, LCSW February 19, 2014)Posted: March 18, 2014
Our primary motivation is to feel a sense of connection to others (Fairbairn, 1952). The root of all connectedness begins with mother-infant, yet siblings soon become a key source of emotional connection (Winnicott, 1971). When children lack nurturing relationships in their home, they search for that connection throughout their life. Families set a precedent for how its members understand closeness with another person; how they think about connectedness; and how they experience intimacy. Because victims of sibling abuse do not have a model for a “healthy” and satisfying connection, there is a tendency in adulthood to seek out relationships that repeat aspects of their previous experiences.
Survivors of sibling abuse endure feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and inferiority that erodes self-esteem. This ultimately influences the nature and quality of relationships to others. When one’s most trusted peer—the sibling—betrays the sanctity of that relationship, the idea of closeness—and of intimacy—becomes fraught with danger. As a result, survivors develop defenses against and within intimate relationships as an attempt to self-protect from re-traumatization.
See more of the article at: Desire and Defense: Survivors of Sibling Abuse challenged by Intimacy
Also see her latest journal article:
Meyers, Amy. (2014): “A call to child welfare: Protect children from sibling abuse” Qualitative Social Work March 12, 2014. http://qsw.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/03/09/1473325014527332.abstract
Sibling abuse is extremely common, yet child welfare does not provide statutes for its identification and workers are not trained to identify its occurrence. This retrospective study explored adults survivors’ experiences of childhood and adolescent sibling abuse and the family environment that engendered hostile sibling relationships. The varying parental responses from punitive to neglect to collusion with the perpetrator resulted in feelings of helplessness and worthlessness in the victim. Personal narratives of survivors highlight the sibling abusive experience and underscore its devastating repercussions. Recommendations are presented for child welfare to establish sibling abuse as a phenomenon in need of recognition and include siblings in risk assessment.