Title page for ETD etd-04252005-155705

Type of Document Dissertation
Author McLaurin, Shamla L.
Author's Email Address slmclaurin@hotmail.com
URN etd-04252005-155705
Title Childhood Experiences of Sibling Abuse: An investigation into learned helplessness
Degree PhD
Department Marriage and Family Therapy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Johnson, Scott W. Committee Chair
Benningfield, Anna Beth Committee Member
Galway, Alison Committee Member
Piercy, Fred P. Committee Member
  • family systems
  • mental health
  • domestic violence
  • sibling abuse
  • learned helplessness
Date of Defense 2005-04-01
Availability unrestricted
As various forms of interpersonal family violence receive more attention in the literature, sibling abuse is still in the background. Despite the increasing knowledge about the prevalence, causes, and effects of sibling abuse, many of us continue to relegate it to a childhood occurrence. Sibling abuse symptoms continue to go unrecognized and its demoralizing effects continue to be ignored (Wiehe, 1990). Minimization and denial of sibling abuse have also contributed to constraining the extent of knowledge related to this phenomenon. The present study seeks to add to the existing research confirming the existence of sibling victimization and its long-term impacts.

This study has two primary purposes: 1) to capture the beliefs, feelings, and firsthand account of the abusive sibling experiences from the perspective of victims, and 2) to investigate the potential learned responses associated with sibling abuse and their possible impact on adult relationships by exploring participants’ emotional and relational histories, and belief systems. This study presents data taken from a clinical sample of six adult female sibling abuse survivors. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted and data analyzed using cross case analysis, constant comparison, and analytic induction techniques. Data suggests the long-term impacts of learned responses associated with sibling abuse can be detrimental to both interpersonal relationships and mental health. Emergent themes related to family functioning and environment and resiliency after abuse are also presented. Implications of findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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