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Michael J. O'Brien

In: Family Sexual Abuse: Frontline Research and Evaluation

Chapter 5: Taking Sibling Incest Seriously

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Taking Sibling Incest Seriously
Taking sibling incest seriously
Michael J.O'Brien

There has been an explosion of publications over the past two decades on the subject of family sexual abuse, reflecting society's awareness and recognition of a problem previously hidden behind a cultural veil of denial, secrecy, and disbelief. While the literature has focused most attention on father-daughter incest, there is general agreement that the most prevalent type of incestuous behavior occurs between siblings (Finkelhor, 1980; Lindzey, 1967). Despite its prevalence, however, sexual behavior between siblings is often regarded as mere “sex play” that is exploratory, mutually consenting, mutually enjoyable, and benign in its effects on later psychological, social, or sexual development. Consequently, the research literature on family sexual abuse has largely ignored sibling incest, dismissing it as ...

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