New study to examine impact of abuse on family relationships

The aim is to identify the support needs of siblings in the aftermath of disclosure of child sexual abuse.

New study to examine impact of abuse on family relationships

The author of a new study claims siblings of childhood sexual abuse victims are often overlooked by support services.

The DCU-led research is looking at the impact abuse has on family relationships and siblings’ experiences of learning about child sexual abuse.

The aim is to identify the support needs of siblings in the aftermath of disclosure of child sexual abuse.

The researchers say it has been shown that the absence of information about siblings’ experiences suggests this is a group whose voice is “unheard” when considering the full effects of this on the family unit.

Dr Rosaleen McElvaney and Dr Simon Dunne from the School of Nursing and Human Sciences led the study, and Dr McElvaney says that siblings are often the "neglected population".

“This is a neglected population, yet siblings themselves and those working in the field are only too painfully aware of the ripple effects of sexual abuse on the family unit," she said.

"We hope that this study will raise awareness about the impact of sexual abuse on family relationships and give siblings a voice - sexual abuse hurts everyone.”

Dr Simon Dunne added: “Siblings of victims of childhood sexual abuse are often overlooked by support services and under-studied in research.

This means that very little is known about how disclosures of childhood sexual abuse have an impact on them and their relationships with other family members, including their relationships to victims of childhood sexual abuse themselves.

"Our purpose with this national survey is to try find out more about how disclosures of childhood sexual abuse impact on siblings’ relationships in their families, and what can be done to address the support needs of these siblings in the aftermath of a disclosure of childhood sexual abuse," he said.

The research will be carried out via and online survey, which you can access here.

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