Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Aggression and Violent Behavior 34 (2017) 254–262

DOI: 10.1016/j.avb.2016.11.011


Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


Research has widely supported the numerous negative outcomes for victims of child sexual abuse (CSA), but little attention has been paid to the experiences of non-abused, non-offending siblings following the victim's disclosure. This review presents evidence indicating that this overlooked sibling population merits both clinical and research attention. Siblings may experience significant emotional and behavioral responses to the victim's disclosure due to changes within the family system. A sibling's internalizing and externalizing behaviors can increase family distress post-abuse, while a supportive sibling can contribute to the victim's recovery. The current state of clinical services for siblings is described. Services including the entire family have been found to be especially beneficial in reducing the negative impact of CSA. Although siblings may present to treatment with subclinical symptoms of distress on average, there is a heterogeneity in emotional and behavioral responses similar to that found in victims. There are currently no measures designed to specifically capture the sibling's experience and impairment following the victim's CSA. Recommendations for future research are provided.