Skip to main content

As the youngest of 6 in a supremely dysfunctional family, I experienced abuse from all except the eldest, who became my emotional mother and Safe person by 8yrs of age and launched into the world that same year.  Every time an older Sibling left home, I became more at risk. Outside my home, the Only 'Safe place', turned out, was just A little Less dangerous because noone was assaulting my body. In addition I experienced several significant traumas outside my home, outside the range of the ACEs questionnaire.

Are there any Studies or Theories being explored around how Sibling abuse or trauma outside the home, in addition to the standard ACEs scale, impacts Child Development and CPTSD?

Last edited by Jenna Quinn (PACEs Connection Staff)
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

I don't actually know of any one too or protocol, but certainly this description is a sadly not an uncommon experience, based on my experiences with clients and many healing protocol trainings. Also, I saw something in Psychology Today that speaks to this:

I am not in my office, but it occurs to me that there is a good book called something like Childhood Disrupted that is just very good on this overall? Maybe Donna Nakazawa? And maybe one called Behind Closed Doors?  I am sure that, by now, there are some more pointed ones to your exact circumstance.

In my area of expertise we look at these events as building Core Issues, which, unresolved, keep collecting other, somewhat similar events until eventually they generalize out into all kinds of other areas of Life.  

Hope this was helpful, let me know if I can help further, Jondi

From my experience as an art  therapist working with youth and adults, I can tell you that the incidence of sibling abuse, including sexual abuse is unfortunately not uncommon.  I have worked with perpetrators as well as victims, and the story usually includes traumatized families, and melty generational trauma stemming from social, societal and marginalized circumstances.  Situations like war, disasters and the current pandemic are perfect developing grounds for family breakdowns and resorting to familial patterns of abuse.  The social and cultural climate of shame and secret keeping allows the continuation of this painful situation.  We all need to advocate braking the silence.  Therapists, doctors, social workers need to advocate for speaking up, and creating an environment like ACEs that encourages openness.

Hope, I had to go to my local DVP to find a Trauma therapists. I also had to ask to change to a different therapist as the first one didn't even know who Van Der Kolk or Pete Walker were and didn't care to find out. So I knew she wouldn't work. Don't give up looking, imo, finding a practitioner who Knows CPTSD and ACEs was critical for my recovery. Also, search for Somatic Experience Therapy,  which Seriously helped relieve the primary disturbing symptoms. Good luck.

Hi there,

I can certainly relate. I'm a playwright and actor, and currently my work is focused on sibling abuse.   It is the least researched form of domestic violence - with the highest rates of violence. The prevalence of sexual and emotional abuse is also staggering.

The Caffaro book is great, primarily around sibling sexual abuse. Dr. Vernon Wiehe has written several books on the issue as well (you'll see several if you google books by Dr. Vernon Wiehe).

I have a few other good resources on the website for my first play, Broken Branches. Please have a look and feel free to get in touch.


I'm also curious why sibling abuse is referred to here as a "Non-ACE trauma" ... any thoughts on that? It certainly IS an Adverse Childhood Experience. It isn't included in the questionnaire, and a search for "sibling abuse" in the CDC-ACE website has 0 results. Very disturbing for the most common form of family violence; higher rates of incest than father/daughter abuse; etc. Any insights from within the ACE community are welcome!

I totally agree with you.  It certainly should be added into the questionnaire.  As I wrote previously, it is silenced perhaps because of it's prevalence.  Even the old testament mentions it together with all other forms of incest and idolatry.  And we even have a story of Amnon and Tamar to emphasize the fact of sibling incest and the punishment.  The stories are there not because of the rarity of the situations, but to illustrate unhealthy situations which are to be irradiated.  Perhaps we only see things that stand out in their not so common appearances.

Thank you for your thoughtful responses to this thread. It is so prevalent, and I agree that because it is so normalized, we don't pay attention. Until we really stop to think about it. I've watched many lightbulbs go on in conversations as people make that link between the openness with which we now address other forms of abuse and the absolute silence about sibling abuse. Most people have never even heard the term 'sibling abuse' and so even victims/survivors are unaware that what they experience, even extreme abuse, isn't 'normal'.  And somehow, 'normal' makes it okay. I saw a dozen therapists over 17 or 18 years before one used the word 'abuse'. What about those who don't/can't access therapy.

I could go on ......

Add Reply

Copyright ÂĐ 2021, PACEsConnection. All rights reserved.
Link copied to your clipboard.