Making sense of abuse: Case studies in sibling incest

2004 2004

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Abstract (summary)

This case study focuses on the process of making sense of abuse in two Latino families experiencing sibling incest. Participants included five male children ranging in age from 8-15 years that were members of two families dealing with the issue of sibling incest. Additional family members and professionals also participated through the use of phone conversations and court reports. A qualitative methodology was utilized with a case study approach to data collection. Data utilized for this study consisted of clinical data that was concurrently being gathered by a clinical agency that conducts research on this population of children and families, and consisted primarily of transcribed therapy sessions that were audio taped by the agency as part of regular research and therapeutic processes. Additional forms of data included court reports, artwork, and assessments. The central research question was how do relational dynamics within families dealing with sibling incest impact the experience of sibling incest? Analysis of the data revealed that the families made sense of the abuse in different ways including abuse as normal and abuse as a mistake, and as a result, responded differently to the occurrence of the abuse. Central concepts that explained how the families responded to the abuse included (1) level of family cohesion, (2) role of secrecy, and (3) view of outside systems. Specifically, family members respond to the occurrence of the abuse in a manner that is consistent with how they view their relationships. The results illustrate that secrecy is used in different ways by families, indicating that the role of secrecy and the purpose it serves for the family needs to be explored during treatment. How families members make sense of the abuse influences how they respond to outside systems. These findings suggest that treatment needs to include an in-depth assessment regarding issues related to family connection, communication, secrecy, violence, view of outside systems, and change. Lastly, the results indicate that although the families made sense of the sibling incest in unique ways, how they responded shaped the way they made sense of the abuse.

Indexing (details)

Social psychology;
Minority & ethnic groups;
Families & family life;
Personal relationships
0622: Psychotherapy
0451: Social psychology
0631: Minority & ethnic groups
0631: Sociology
0628: Families & family life
0628: Personal relationships
0628: Sociology
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Psychology; Abuse; Incest; Latino; Marital and family therapy; Sibling
Making sense of abuse: Case studies in sibling incest
Bass, Linda B.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-B 66/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780542354113, 054235411X
Huenergardt, Douglas
Loma Linda University
University location
United States -- California
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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