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To the Graduate Council:

I am submitting herewith a dissertation written by Mandy Morrill-Richards entitled "The Influence of Sibling Abuse on Interpersonal Relationships and Self-Esteem in College Students." I have examined the final copy of this dissertation for form and content and recommend that it be accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education with a major in Counseling.

We have read this dissertation and recommend its acceptance:

Sharon Home, Ph.D.

A\!LHJLA Stephen L&ierer, Ph.D.

Accepted for the Council:

\LMhdj£k

Siten D. Weddle-West, Ph.D.

Vice Provost for Graduate Programs

THE INFLUENCE OF SIBLING ABUSE ON INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND SELF-ESTEEM IN COLLEGE STUDENTS

A Dissertation

Presented for the

Doctor of Education

Degree

The University of Memphis

Mandy Meggens Morrill-Richards

May 2009

UMI Number: 3370276

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DEDICATION

To Dr. Michael Stausing for his counsel, encouragement, and direction

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My sincere thanks to my friends and family who helped me through this

dissertation process with their endless belief in me. In particular, I would like to thank

Jenny, Jamie, Linden, and Melissa for listening to me and encouraging me when I needed

it the most. Of course, special thanks go to Dave, whose support enabled me to complete

this project.

Additionally, I would like to thank Dr. Nancy Nishimura for her supervision

guidance and patience. I would also like to acknowledge the members of my dissertation

committee, Dr. Sharon Home, Dr. Stephen Leierer, and Dr. Ronnie Priest, who

encouraged this research and believed in the importance of the project.

m

ABSTRACT

Morrill-Richards, Mandy M. Ed.D. The University of Memphis. May 2009. The Influence of Sibling Abuse on Interpersonal Relationships and Self-Esteem in College Students. Major Professor: Nancy J. Nishimura, Ed.D.

Empirical research on sibling abuse has been overwhelmingly absent from the

professional literature. This exploratory study used a survey instrument to investigate the

question of whether the experience of sibling abuse as a child influences level of self-

esteem and interpersonal competencies of college students. Multiple regression analyses

indicate that experience with psychological or physical sibling abuse as a child does have

a negative and significant influence on self-esteem and interpersonal competencies in

college students. Specific results related to survivors and perpetrators are discussed in

relation to self-esteem and the five spheres of interpersonal competency. Limitations as

well as implications of these findings on counselor education, college counselors, and

future research are discussed.

IV

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER

PAGE

1. OVERVIEW

1

Importance for College Student Population

2

Defining Terminology

3

Sibling Relationships

3

Sibling Abuse

4

Psychological Sibling Abuse

4

Physical Sibling Abuse

5

Sexual Sibling Abuse

6

Self-Esteem and Interpersonal Competency

6

Primary Goal and Hypothesis

7

2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE

10

Sibling Abuse and College Students

10

Sibling Relationships

14

Prevalence

15

Factors Contributing to Sibling Abuse

18

Types of Sibling Abuse

20

Psychological Sibling Abuse

20

Physical Sibling Abuse

21

Sexual Sibling Abuse

22

3. METHODS

25

Descriptive Information of Participants

25

Procedure

27

Instrumentation

28

Analysis

30

4. RESULTS

31

Preliminary Analysis

31

Analysis Hypothesis 1

33

Analysis Hypothesis 2

37

Initiating Relationships

37

Provide Emotional Support

41

v

CHAPTER

PAGE

Asserting Influence

 

45

Self-Disclosure

49

Conflict Resolution

53

Summary of Results

57

5.

DISCUSSION

60

Implications of Results

60

Hypothesis 1

60

Hypothesis 2

61

Limitations

62

Implications for Counselor Education

65

Implications for College Counselors

66

Research

69

General Considerations

69

 

Research

Related to Gender

71

Research

Related to Multicultural Issues

72

Research

Related

to Prevention

73

REFERENCES

75

APPENDICES

A. Regression Tables

85

Table 1: Experience with Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Self-Esteem

85

Table 2: Perpetrating Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Self-Esteem

86

Table 3: Surviving Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Self-Esteem

87

Table 4: Experience with Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Initiating Relationships

88

Table 5: Perpetrating Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Initiating Relationships

89

Table 6: Surviving Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Initiating Relationships

90

Table 7: Experience with Sibling Abuse a Predictor of Providing Emotional Support

91

Table 8: Perpetrating Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Providing Emotional Support

92

Table 9: Surviving Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Providing Emotional Support

93

VI

Table 10: Experience with Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Asserting Influence

94

Table 11: Perpetrating Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Asserting Influence

95

Table 12: Surviving Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Asserting Influence

96

Table 13: Experience with Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Self-Disclosure

97

Table 14: Perpetrating Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Self-Disclosure

98

Table 15: Surviving Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Self-Disclosure

99

Table 16: Experience with Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Conflict Resolution

100

Table 17: Perpetrating Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Conflict Resolution

101

Table 18: Surviving Sibling Abuse as a Predictor of Conflict Resolution

102

B. Informed Consent

103

C. Survey Instrument

105

D. IRB Approval

111

vn

CHAPTER 1: OVERVIEW

Throughout history, abuse within the family was considered a private matter to

remain within the confines of the home (Kiselica & Morrill-Richards, 2007; Phillips-

Green, 2002). During the 1970s, the feminist movement helped break through the walls

of privacy that were protecting family violence and brought awareness of the issue into

mainstream America (Ammerman & Hersen, 1991). Since that time, there have been

tremendous advances in the study of family violence; for example, today childhood abuse

is recognized by professionals as a significant and widespread problem with

consequences lasting into adulthood (Adler & Schutz, 1995; Finkelhor, Hotaling, Lewis

& Smith, 1990; Wiehe, 1990). Despite these advances, research related to intra-familial

violence conducted by social science researchers over the past three decades has largely

ignored the experience of sibling abuse (Ammerman & Hersen, 1991; Kiselica & Morrill-

Richards, 2007; Phillips-Green, 2002).

The few studies that have been conducted over the past thirty years suggest

sibling abuse is endemic and can result in devastating consequences long into adulthood.

Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz (1980) found that as many as 40 % of American children

engage in physical aggression against siblings and as many as 85 % engage in verbal

aggression against siblings on a regular basis. Wiehe (1998) estimated that as many as 53

out of every 100 children are perpetrators of sibling abuse. Goodwin and Roscoe (1990)

used the Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus, 1979) to measure the frequency of abuse in

families among 272 high school students, and they found that 60 % of the participants

reported being either a victim or perpetrator of sibling abuse. Straus and Gelles (1990)

1

conducted a national survey of 8,145 families with a final report reflecting that 80 % of

children age 3-1 7 commit some form of violence against a sibling. Data regarding

homicide in the United States indicates that siblings perpetrated 6.1% of all murders

committed by family members in 2002 (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2004).

One reason for the widespread occurrence of sibling abuse is that sibling

relationships are unique in their longevity and are one of the most influential

relationships in one's life. In spite of this reality, the significance of sibling relationships

is typically minimized by family members and American society (Caffaro & Conn-

Caffaro, 1998; Newman, 1994). Even with little research, there is data suggesting sibling

abuse is common and has consequences lasting into adulthood (Garey, 1999; Simonelli,

Mullis, Elliott, & Pierce, 2002). Studies conducted on sibling abuse have found that, as

children transition into adulthood, both survivors and perpetrators of sibling abuse are at

higher risk of developmental delays, depression, hopelessness, drug abuse, low self-

esteem, isolation and dating violence than those who have not survived or perpetrated

sibling abuse (Johnston & Freeman, 1989; Phillips-Green, 2002; Snyder, Bank, &

Burraston, 2005).

Importance for College Student Population

University counseling centers serve as the primary source of psychological care

for students in college. The quick change of pace in the college and university settings

demands quick adaptation. This rapid change often creates a situation in which both

sibling abuse survivors and perpetrators, suffering with psychological issues related to

sense of well-being, live in a constant state of crisis. This population is at high risk of

2

living in crisis because there have been failed attempts to resolve issues related to the

sibling abuse, which, in turn, creates dissonance between achievement of the basic

developmental tasks of college (separating from home, finding sense of self, connecting

with peers) and lack of trust, weak ego strength, and little sense of autonomy (Grayson,

1989). Many of these students present at college psychological counseling centers

without ever being assessed for sibling maltreatment. This phenomenon is primarily a

result of lack of knowledge regarding long-term mental health consequences related to

sibling abuse, lack of awareness of the prevalence of sibling abuse, and the reality that

there is no current assessment tool for measuring the experience of sibling abuse

(Simonelli et al., 2002). Without identification of sibling abuse, many students seeking

therapeutic help at college counseling centers do not receive the clinical intervention they

need.

Sibling Relationships

Defining Terminology

Sibling relationships may be comprised of biological siblings (sharing the same

biological parents), half siblings (sharing one parent), step-siblings (related through

marriage of parents), adoptive siblings, foster siblings (related through a shared home) or

fictive siblings (may not be biologically related, but are considered siblings). The sibling

relationship itself consists of "all interactions, verbal and nonverbal, of two or more

individuals who are members of the same sibling subsystem and who have parents in

common" (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998, p.75). Given the commonality and

accessibility sibling relationships offer, it seems obvious that abusive sibling

3

relationships would not only be widespread, but also would be destructive in nature. In

order to conceptualize abusive interactions among siblings, it is necessary to define

sibling abuse in general, as well as each of the three sibling abuse categories.

Sibling Abuse

There are three components to consider when defining sibling abuse: perception,

intent, and severity (Wiehe, 1997, 2000). Perception refers to how each sibling frames

the interaction. For example, if one sibling involved in the sibling dyad views the

behavior as abusive, regardless of his or her role as survivor or perpetrator, a dynamic

beyond the scope of 'normal' sibling rivalry is likely present. The second facet, intent,

refers to what a sibling hoped to accomplish through an action or behavior. When sibling

abuse is present, the intent of the perpetrating brother or sister is primarily to cause harm

rather than to gain access to limited family resources such as space, time and affection, as

is normally the case in healthy rivalry. Severity is related to the duration and intensity of

the sibling behavior. As severity increases there is greater probability that the sibling

relationship is abusive (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998; Wiehe, 2000). Perception, intent,

and severity exist within three primary categories of sibling abuse: psychological,

physical, and sexual.

Psychological sibling abuse. Psychological abuse is the most difficult category of

abuse to define in the sibling relationship. This form of abuse between siblings is

typically not recognized by parents and is often dismissed as normal sibling rivalry

(Wiehe, 1997). Whipple and Finton (1995) describe psychological abuse as distinct from

"normal" behavior based on consistency and intensity. Examples would include words

4

and actions expressing degradation and contempt that have an impact on the sense of

well-being (insecurity, lack of self-esteem) of a sibling, such as daily harassing

statements like 'no one in this family cares about you and we would all be happier if you

were dead,' and, 'if you don't do my chores this week I am going to hurt your pet mouse'

(Whipple & Finton, 1995; Wiehe, 1997). Wiehe (2000) studied 150 adult survivors of

sibling abuse, in which 78 % of the participants had experienced psychological abuse,

which included belittling, intimidation, provocation, destroying possessions, and torturing

and killing pets.

Physical sibling abuse. Physical abuse by a sibling is defined as one member of a

sibling pair deliberately causing physical harm to the other sibling (Wiehe, 1997). In the

case of sibling abuse, the intent is to hurt the other sibling for no other motive than to

cause physical pain, which often allows the perpetrating sibling to obtain a sense of

power in the sibling dyad. Sibling physical abuse is not inclusive of isolated incidents or

one time events of mild physical aggression acted out to obtain access to limited family

resources. Physical sibling abuse must include the intent to harm for the sake of injury,

the perception by one or more siblings that the action is abusive in nature, and the

severity of a repeated pattern of behavior rather than an isolated incident (Wiehe, 2000).

The harm may be inflicted by shoving, hitting, slapping, kicking, biting, pinching,

scratching and hair pulling (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998; Wiehe, 2000). More severe

forms of physical abuse by siblings include the use of coat hangers, hairbrushes, belts,

sticks, knives, guns and rifles, broken glass, razor blades and scissors to inflict injury and

pain (Wiehe, 2000).

5

Sexual sibling abuse. Sexual abuse among siblings occurs more frequently than

any other form of sexual abuse (Rudd & Herzberger, 1999; Wiehe, 1998). Sibling incest

is defined as sexual behavior between siblings that is not age appropriate, not transitory

and not motivated by developmentally appropriate curiosity (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro,

1998). Some examples of this behavior include inappropriate fondling, touching, sexual

contact, indecent exposure, exposure to pornography, oral sex, anal sex, digital

penetration and intercourse (Phillips-Green, 2002; Whelan, 2003; Wiehe, 1990).

Self-Esteem and Interpersonal Competency

Being able to adapt and cope with the new experiences and life transitions college

life offers is an important piece in maintaining psychological health. Studies conducted

by Liem and Boudewyn (1999) and Cooper, Rowland, and Esper (2002) indicate self-

esteem and interpersonal competency were two of the most crucial well-being constructs

in the health of college students. The studies also found a relationship between higher

levels of abuse and stress in the family of origin and lower levels of self-esteem and

interpersonal satisfaction in college students (Cooper et al., 2002; Liem & Boudewyn,

1999).

Self-esteem is the evaluative component of the self and refers to the worth,

approval, and favorable attitude one holds for oneself (Blascovich & Tomaka, 1991;

Rosenberg, 1965). When attempting to foster self-esteem, it is critical that the home

environment is affirmative.

Creating a positive atmosphere is extremely difficult when

parents disregard abusive sibling interactions and abused siblings are left feeling isolated,

scared, and rejected by family members (Renzaglia, Karvonen, Drasgow, & Stoxen,

6

2003; Rudd & Herzberger, 1999; Sands & Wehmeyer, 1996; Wiehe, 1998). How

families support or discourage self-esteem has a lasting impact on children (Rudd &

Herzberger, 1999; Wiehe 2000). Experiencing a home environment that supports the

constructs essential to developing positive self-esteem provides children with the ability

to persevere to reach an ultimate goal, which is extremely important when trying to

succeed in college life. It is not surprising that children with high self-esteem tend to be

intrinsically motivated, confident, and have positive achievement throughout life

(Eisenman & Chamberlin, 2001; Renzaglia et al., 2003).

Interpersonal competence includes the ability to disclose, be assertive, be

supportive, and manage interpersonal conflict. Achieving interpersonal competency

allows for the development of supportive social structures needed to cope with the stress

and chaos accompanying college life (Liem & Boudewyn, 1999; Rosenberg, 1965). As

an adult, a sense of satisfaction with interpersonal relationships increases the chances that

psychological and supportive resources available will be utilized and/or new resources

needed to handle stressors in life will be sought out. Satisfaction with interpersonal

relationships often leads to an improved sense of coherence, which has a moderating

effect on decision making and allows an adult to navigate stressful life events with

perseverance (Lustig & Strauser, 2002; Renzaglia et al., 2003).

Primary Goal and Hypothesis

The primary goal of this study is to better understand how experiencing abusive

sibling relationships as a child impacts interpersonal competencies and self-esteem in the

college student population. The research in this study addresses the gap related

7

specifically to the influence sibling abuse has on these specific constructs of

psychological well-being in college students. In order to bring attention to and cultivate

knowledge regarding consequences of sibling abuse for college students' well-being, this

study proposes two hypotheses. The research hypotheses are as follows:

1. Experiencing sibling abuse as a child inversely impacts level of self-esteem in

college students.

2. Experiencing sibling abuse as a child inversely impacts interpersonal

relationship competency in college students.

Each of the above hypotheses addresses a specific aspect of the gap in research on sibling

abuse and college students.

This study explores the relationship between sibling abuse and the specific well-

being constructs of self-esteem and competency with interpersonal relationships for

college students. The study design is an exploratory survey based on an altered version

of the Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus, 1979), the Rosenberg Self>Esteem Scale

(Rosenberg, 1965), and the Interpersonal Competence Questionnaire (Buhrmester,

Furman, Witteberg, & Reis, 1988). The survey is self-report and divided into three

sections each of which is in a Likert scale format.

The first section consists of 36

questions measuring recollection of presence and severity of sibling abuse based on an

altered version of the Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus, 1979). The second section contains

the 10 question format of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965) to measure

global self-esteem. The third section is comprised of the 40 question Interpersonal

8

Competence Questionnaire (Buhrmester et al., 1988) to measure interpersonal

satisfaction and functioning.

Perhaps the main barrier to understanding sibling abuse is an absence of current

empirical research. While virtually every other type of research connected to family

violence has received steady funding since the early 1980's, funding for the study of

sibling abuse has sharply decreased during the same time period (Haskins, 2003). The

paucity of current research that addresses the complexity and unique circumstances

surrounding sibling abuse and the consequences that linger into adulthood is a source of

concern (Ammerman & Hersen, 1991; Phillips-Green, 2002). This study marks an effort

to promote and expand much needed critical research on this topic.

9

CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Understanding the consequences of sibling abuse as they relate to the well-being

of college students is complex. In order to engage in a thorough exploration of the issue,

this review will begin by addressing the unique impact of sibling abuse on the college

student population in relation to the specific well-being constructs of interpersonal

relationships and self-esteem, underscoring the importance of this study in filling a

particular gap in the literature. The review will continue with an examination of the

literature outlining the importance of sibling relationships followed by an evaluation of

prevalence studies, factors contributing to sibling abuse, and an outline of the three

primary forms of sibling abuse: physical, psychological, and sexual.

Sibling Abuse and College Students

As sibling abuse is frequently dismissed by families and communities, this form

of maltreatment tends to last over a long period of time and is often accompanied with

devastating long-term consequences. Most students entering college are in a state of

transition from dependency on family to establishing independence; however, those

living with a history of sibling abuse may begin to experience deep psychopathological

problems that begin to surface during this period (Grayson, 1989). By the time a child

who has experienced sibling abuse and not received appropriate clinical treatment

reaches college, he or she is likely to live with other forms of interpersonal problems,

depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and a variety of other mental health concerns

(Snyder et al., 2005). It is important to remember that while students are in college,

university counseling centers serve as the primary source of psychological care. A

10

student may be enrolled in an academic program for as little as two years to well over ten

years, during which time the student is not likely to seek support for psychological well-

being outside of the campus community (Arnstein, 1989).

The developmental consequences for students with a history of sibling abuse are

tremendous. Because of the unique longevity of sibling abuse, there usually exists a

disruption of developmental stages of life (Rudd & Herzberger, 1999; Wiehe, 1990).

During the time of abuse, energy normally used for developmental tasks is used instead

for survival. Seemingly normal developmental strains such as homesickness, relationship

concerns, and academics frequently mask the trauma that has been aggravated by college

life (Gipple, Lee, & Puig, 2006; Grayson, 1989). Results of this developmental

disruption which often surface during college related specifically to interpersonal

relationships and self-esteem include premature sexualization, difficulty with peer

relationships, confusion about sexuality, aggression, and a distorted sense of self in

relation to others (Snyder et al., 2005).

Several studies support the notion that self-esteem and interpersonal competency

are constructs of well-being most closely associated with the quality of the sibling

relationship. Raver and Volling (2007) surveyed 200 adults between the ages of 18 and

25 and found a significant correlation between family experiences; in particular positive

sibling interactions and the ability to engage in healthy romantic relationship functioning

as an adult. In a study conducted by Cutting and Dunn (2006) the sibling relationship

was found to be more influential in the long-term development of interpersonal

competencies than were parental interactions, language development, or socio-economic

11

status. Using a convenience sample of 98 college students, Daniel (1999) found a strong,

positive correlation between how one believed a sibling perceived him or her and the

development of self-esteem as an adult. Caya and Liem (1998) administered a survey to

194 university students between the ages of 16 and 55 to study how the sibling

relationship is used as a buffer from parental conflict. The results indicated the sibling

relationship has a strong enough impact on the development of self-esteem that a positive

sibling relationship can promote the development of positive self-esteem in the face of

severe conflict outside of the sibling relationship (Caya & Liem, 1998). While these

studies highlight the importance of focusing attention on the specific constructs of self-

esteem and interpersonal competencies when studying sibling relationships, none of the

above research addresses how abusive sibling relationships may interfere with the

development of positive self-esteem and interpersonal competencies.

Having a history of sibling abuse may result in an altered risk appraisal process in

which students have difficulty identifying potentially harmful outcomes (Combs-Lane &

Smith, 2002). Typically, this mindset disallows recognition of threats and inhibits one's

ability to respond in a protective manner. As a result, these students are likely to engage

in at-risk behaviors which affect self-esteem and interpersonal relationships as they enter

adulthood (Graham-Bermann, Cutler, Litzenberger & Schwartz, 1994; Finkelhor &

Browne, 1985). The most common at-risk behaviors for college students who have

survived sibling abuse include engaging in unprotected sex, distortion of the line between

pleasure and pain in sexual relationships, and confusion about sexuality ranging from

extreme frigidity to extreme promiscuity (Combs-Lane & Smith, 2002).

12

Liem and Boudewyn (1999) used attachment theory as a base to study their

hypothesis that experience with multiple forms of abuse in childhood directly relates to

adult problems with self-esteem and social functioning.

In the study, a secondary

analysis of data collected from surveys given to 687 college students between 1990 and

1992 was conducted. Results indicated abuse as a child enforces a working model of the

self as an adult as unworthy and incompetent of healthy relationships while at the same

time others are viewed as rejecting and unreliable. Additionally, those with multiple

abuse experiences as a child had lower levels of self-esteem in college. The authors

suggest expectations of relationships and the self across time are carried from relationship

experience with one's closest peer. While Liem and Boudewyn (1999) do not address

siblings specifically, given that siblings often represent the closest peer during childhood,

the results support the likelihood that sibling abuse has a tremendous, and perhaps

unmatched, influence on interpersonal relationships and self-esteem for college students.

Similarly, Cooper, et al. (2002) investigated how abusive or stressful family of

origin experiences influence psychological resources, level of interpersonal functioning,

and an ability to form a strong therapeutic alliance with the therapist. Researchers

administered the Family Experiences Scale (Alexander, Benjamin, Lerer, & Baron,

1995), the Childhood Sexual Abuse Questionnaire (Rowland, Zabin, & Emerson, 2001),

and the Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale (American Psychiatric

Association, 1994) to 45 college students seeking treatment at a university counseling

center. The authors found students with abusive or stressful family of origin experiences

had a lower level of interpersonal functioning and difficulty forming an alliance with the

13

therapist. The results led the authors to conclude family of origin experiences offer

education on regulation and development of interpersonal skills to be used as an adult.

Many of the above studies demonstrate the connection between an abusive family

of origin experience and interpersonal and self-esteem challenges during college.

Unfortunately, the research continues to focus primarily on adult to child or parent to

child abusive encounters, ignoring the implications and unique severity of sibling abuse.

While some of the research discussed above indicates a more liberal extension of abuse in

the family to include the entire family of origin, there continues to be a vacuum in

discussion and exploration of the sibling abuse experience in particular. The author

intends to address the missing piece in the literature through a specific exploration of

sibling abuse in relation to interpersonal relationship challenges and low self-esteem in

college students.

Sibling Relationships

Sibling relationships are ubiquitous. Caffaro and Conn-Caffaro (1998) found that

83% of the 395 adults interviewed in their study were raised with at least one sibling in

the family. Adults typically have more siblings than children, and, compared to the past,

a greater percentage of current adults do not marry or marry at a later age. These findings

indicate that the sibling relationship is unique in its longevity and can be one of the most

influential relationships in one's life. Therefore, the influence siblings have on one

another should not be minimized (Felson, 1983; Newman, 1994).

The relationships siblings have with each other is unique from any other

emotional connection between people and is one of the most powerful forces in social

14

development (Row & Gulley, 1992; Snyder, Bank & Burraston, 2005). Snyder et al.

(2005) surveyed 155 college students and found a strong relationship between sibling

interactions and sense of well-being. Johnston and Freeman (1989) discovered that, over

time, sibling relationships that are positive have a beneficial effect on siblings and those

that are negative have an adverse impact on siblings. When siblings are positive toward

each other, a supportive environment exists in which healthy development is likely to

occur. Negative sibling relationships, by comparison, are characterized by fear, shame,

and hopelessness. A sibling relationship in which abusive interaction exists can lead to

devastating and long-lasting consequences, such as the normalization of coercive and

aggressive interpersonal behavior (Phillips-Green, 2002; Snyder et al., 2005).

Prevalence

Studies conducted over the past 30 years suggest sibling abuse is endemic, and

can result in devastating consequences long into adulthood. One of the pioneers in the

study of sibling violence is Suzanne Steinmetz who conducted the first major study on

sibling abuse in 1977. Steinmetz (1977) interviewed 57 families selected at random and

asked parents to monitor frequency of violent interactions among their children over the

course of one week. Analysis of the data collected found that in 49 families, 131 severe

sibling conflicts occurred. In her follow up study, Steinmetz (1978) interviewed 57

families and 88 pairs of siblings. Results supported the excessive nature of sibling abuse

found in her previous study, with 70% of families identifying use of physical violence

between siblings to resolve conflict, and 63% of the reported physical sibling abuse

incidents considered severe.

15

Straus, Gelles, and Steinmetz (1980) conducted an extensive national survey with

2,143 families. Results of the study indicated 53 out of every 100 American children

engage in severe physical aggression against siblings and as many as 85% engage in

verbal aggression against siblings on a regular basis. Additionally, this study estimated

that nearly 1.5 million children had been threatened by a sibling with a gun or knife at

least once. Straus and Gelles (1990) built on the findings of their previous study and

conducted the most definitive study of family violence in the United States in the early

1990's. Self-report surveys were distributed to 8,145 families throughout the country

with a final report demonstrating that 80% of children age 3-17 commit some form of

violence against a sibling. A more detailed analysis of the results show 53% of siblings

admitted to committing severe acts of violence against a sibling such as punching,

kicking, stabbing, and attacking with objects.

During the 1990s, Vernon Wiehe emerged as a leader in the study of sibling

abuse. Wiehe (1998) administered an anonymous questionnaire on the subject of sibling

relationships to 150 adults with the hope of gaining a descriptive picture of sibling abuse.

The results were shocking, as 67% of subjects reported being sexually abused by a

sibling during childhood, 3% reported surviving both physical and sexual sibling abuse,

11% reported surviving both emotional and sexual sibling abuse, and 37% reported

surviving physical, emotional, and sexual abuse from a sibling. Wiehe (1998) used this

study to estimate that as many as 53 out of every 100 children are perpetrators of sibling

abuse.

16

Other studies have also been conducted to investigate the prevalence of sibling

abuse. Goodwin and Roscoe (1990) used the Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus, 1979) to

measure the frequency of abuse in families as reported by 272 high school students.

They found 60% of the participants reported being either a survivor or perpetrator of

sibling abuse. Graham-Bermann, et al. (1994) interviewed 1,450 college students of

which 786 reported having an aggressive sibling interaction as a child and 20% reported

perceiving their sibling relationship as more violent than sibling relationships in other

families. A study on peer bullying conducted by Duncan (1999) found 22% of children

in the sample were hit by a sibling and 8% were beaten by a sibling. Simonelli, et al.

(2002) interviewed 120 college students to gain insight into sibling relationships. Their

results found approximately 66% of the students had experienced physical violence from

a sibling and 3.4% reported being threatened with a gun or knife.

There is no doubt each of these studies served well to underscore the fact that

sibling maltreatment is the most common form of interpersonal abuse in the United States

and is vastly understudied (Kiselica & Morrill-Richards, 2007; Straus & Gelles, 1990;

Wiehe, 2000). In spite of advances made in family violence research offered by these

studies, a gap remains consistent across sibling abuse research. Each study mentioned

above focuses on the existence of sibling abuse and/or immediate consequences of that

experience for children. The current study will attempt to build on this literature and

examine some of the long-term consequences related to well-being in college students,

with specific focus on the well-being variables of self-esteem and interpersonal relational

functioning.

17

Factors Contributing to Sibling Abuse

The studies mentioned above highlight the immense problem of sibling abuse;

however, when studying sibling abuse it is necessary not only to acknowledge the

prevalence of this type of abuse, but also consider why this type of abuse occurs.

Some researchers have suggested that maladaptive parental behavior and dysfunctional

family structures play key roles in the origin of sibling abuse (Bank & Kahn, 1982;

Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998; Wiehe, 2000). Parental treatment has an impact on the

sibling relationship. When the family structure supports power imbalances, rigid gender

roles, differential treatment of siblings, and lack of parental supervision, there is an

increased risk for sibling abuse (Bank & Kahn, 1982; Leder, 1993).

Bank and Kahn (1982) argued that ineffective parenting is a core factor in the

development of sibling abuse. In their article, the authors cite conflict-avoidant parents

and conflict-amplifying parents as primary obstacles in the healthy development of

conflict resolution and problem solving among siblings. In both types of parenting,

sibling conflict is minimized or ignored completely. In conflict-avoidant cases, the

boundary between child and parent is often blurred, allowing an aggressive sibling to

hold a tremendous amount of power over other family members. In conflict-amplifying

cases, parents encourage sibling conflict (whether consciously or not) as a means of

conflict resolution.

In a study conducted by Wiehe (1997), parents were asked for reactions to and

perceptions of interactions between siblings. The prevalence of abusive sibling behavior

observed by parents was high, though it was rare for parents to acknowledge this

18

behavior as abusive. The normalization of abuse by parents was found to be a key factor

in the severity and frequency of abuse between siblings. When parents are unable to

make the distinction between normal sibling rivalry and sibling abuse, it can lead to other

risk factors, such as the inappropriate expression of anger from one sibling to another

(Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998). Parents may encourage this behavior as a form of

release or ventilation of anger, which usually promotes aggression rather than easing

hostility in the child (Feshbach, 1964; Wiehe, 2000). Several studies have found a link

between child abuse and the delinquent behavior of siblings. It has been shown that an

abused child may inflict abuse on a sibling because he or she is modeling the actions of

his or her parents (Freeman, 1993; Glaser, 1986; Wiehe, 1998).

The normalization of sibling abuse by the family structure and society creates a

layer of shame and complication that can have devastating results for both the victim and

perpetrator. Unlike the studies mentioned above, this study will attempt to capture the

influence minimization of sibling abuse and lack of parental support have on a child as he

or she encounters the developmentally challenging time of college. This study will use

reports of the actual sibling members rather than using reports of family members, which

was the primary means of gaining knowledge of sibling relationships in the above-

mentioned studies.

Types of Sibling Abuse

Sibling abuse is extremely complicated and not easily defined. It is difficult to

determine where normal developmental behavior among siblings ends and abuse begins

19

(Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998; Wiehe, 2000). Many factors, such as the severity and

intent of an act by one sibling and the emotional impact of that act on another sibling,

must be considered when determining if an interaction is abusive. Normal sibling

conflict usually consists of a mutual disagreement over resources in the family (i.e.,

parental attention), while sibling maltreatment consists of one sibling taking on the role

of aggressor over another sibling. Like other forms of abuse, sibling abuse has three

main categories, psychological, physical and sexual (Johnston & Freeman, 1989).

Psychological Sibling Abuse

Psychological sibling abuse is, perhaps, the most challenging category to define.

This form of abuse is often dismissed as normal sibling rivalry by parental figures,

teachers, caseworkers and other adults in a position to observe the way in which siblings

interact (Wiehe, 1997). As stated previously, the two most important elements in

distinguishing psychological sibling abuse from normal rivalry are consistency and

intensity (Whipple & Finton, 1995). Psychological sibling abuse includes behaviors

engaged in for the purpose of promoting humiliation and contempt, and has an impact on

the sense of well-being (interpersonal struggle, lack of self-esteem) of a sibling (Whipple

& Finton, 1995; Wiehe, 1997).

Psychological sibling abuse can have serious long-term consequences if the abuse

is minimized and needed intervention is not sought (Garey, 1999). It is important to take

reports of psychological abuse seriously and observe the behavior of siblings. Survivors

of psychological sibling abuse who have not received treatment often internalize the

abusive messages received. Children who experience psychological maltreatment from a

20

sibling may act out by crying or screaming, or hide in an attempt to isolate themselves

from the abuser (Wiehe, 1998). It has been shown that there is a connection between

experiencing psychological abuse as a child and developing habit disorders, conduct

disorders, neurotic traits, psychoneurotic reactions, lags in development, and attempted

suicide (Ammerman & Hersen, 1991). In addition, both the survivors and perpetrators of

emotional sibling abuse tend to have significantly lower levels of self-esteem as adults

than do non-victims (Garey, 1999).

As psychological abuse describes a broad category of behavior, this study will

focus on two primary subgroups, emotional abuse and verbal abuse, in order to gain a

more comprehensive sense of the specific type of psychological maltreatment that has

occurred. Emotional abuse includes neglect of siblings, purposefully exposing a sibling

to danger, rejecting, exploiting, and intentional destruction of a sibling's personal

property (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998; Whipple & Finton, 1995). Verbal abuse

involves the use of specific remarks to inflict ridicule, insult, threaten, terrorize, or

belittle a sibling (Cafaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998; Wiehe, 1997).

Physical Sibling Abuse

Physical abuse among brothers and sisters is the most common form of intimate

violence in the United States (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998; Duncan, 1999; Kiselica &

Morrill-Richards, 2007; Straus & Gelles, 1990; Wiehe, 1990). Simonelli, Mullis, Elliott,

and Pierce (2002) found that approximately two thirds of 120 college students

experienced physical violence from a sibling, and 3.4 % reported being threatened by a

sibling with a gun or a knife. The results of a national survey of family violence indicate

21

that 80 % of children between the ages of 3 and 17 had hit a brother or a sister, and more

than half have engaged in severe acts of violence, such as punching, kicking, stabbing or

hitting with an object (Straus & Gelles, 1990).

Sibling violence among brothers and sisters usually declines with age, which may

lead parents to dismiss the acts and minimize the impact of the aggressive exchanges on

the siblings. There are strong indications that the abused child will experience violence

later in life if there is no intervention (Goodwin & Roscoe, 1990; Steinmetz, 1981). In

particular, there is a strong association between sibling abuse and subsequent experiences

of violence within dating relationships (Simonelli et al., 2002).

Sexual Sibling Abuse

There are two primary types of sibling sexual abuse. The first type involves

siblings who seek or need a sense of nurturance and safety and attempt to fill this need

physically with a brother or sister. Siblings engaging in this type of sexual abuse are

often living in a home in which other abusive family issues exist (Phillips-Green, 2002;

Whelan, 2003). The second type occurs when one sibling uses threats or physical force

to violate another sibling. Often, one sibling will attempt to gain sexual power over

another sibling to relieve his or her own sense of powerlessness (Phillips-Green, 2002).

Compared to child sexual abuse involving adults, the impact and prevalence of

sibling incest is often underestimated by society (Rudd & Herzberger, 1999; Whelan,

2003; Wiehe, 2000). This trend may be a result of the difficulty in establishing the victim

and offender roles. Determining if coercion was a factor in the abuse may be another

obstacle when treating siblings. Another difference between adult and sibling sexual

22

abuse is that no generational boundary has been violated, which makes sexual abuse

easier to hide. An exaggerated sexual climate in the family or a rigidly repressive sexual

family environment increases the risk of sibling sexual abuse (Phillips-Green, 2002;

Snyder et al , 2005). These environments may also contain multiple offenders of sexual

abuse within the family, making detecting and dealing with sexual abuse of a sibling even

more difficult.

Each offender may use denial as a means to protect himself or herself

from experiencing shame and to maintain the abuse; therefore, the likelihood of any one

member of the family reporting the incest is reduced (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998;

Phillips-Green, 2002; Whelan, 2003).

Children who experience sibling molestation exhibit a wide variety of

psychological problems. Sexual sibling abuse frequently fosters fear, anger, shame,

humiliation, and guilt. Many children who have been sexually abused by a sibling learn

to connect victimization with sex and have difficulty separating pleasure from pain and

fear from desire when they become adults (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998). Siblings

often experience collusion and have shared family and peer groups, which can serve to

reinforce a skewed vision of power in interpersonal relationships when sibling sexual

abuse exists (Snyder et al., 2005). Research addressing various types of sibling abuse has

hypothesized possible links between experience with sibling abuse as a child and long-

term consequences as an adult; however, there is currently no quantitative study

specifically investigating these proposed connections. This study will offer to fill this

gap through a quantitative and thorough investigation of the possible connection between

23

experience with sibling abuse as a child and current difficulty with self-esteem and

interpersonal relationships as a college student.

24

CHAPTER 3: METHODS

This study investigates the influencing force experience with sibling abuse has on

the specific well-being constructs of self-esteem and competence with interpersonal

relationships as it specifically relates to college students. The study design is a survey

experiment based on an altered version of the Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus, 1979), the

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965), and the Interpersonal Competence

Questionnaire (Buhrmester, et al., 1988). The following chapter will outline specifics of

the process beginning with a detailed summary of participant information and continuing

with an explanation of procedure for data collection, the instruments used, and analysis

that were conducted.

Descriptive Information of Participants

Participants in this study consisted of both undergraduate and graduate college

students enrolled at a public urban university in the mid-south of the United States. The

sample was one of convenience in that surveys were distributed by the primary

investigator to classes across a variety of academic disciplines within the college of arts

and sciences and the college of education for which permission had been granted by the

instructor. The age of students ranged from 18-59, with a median age of 20 and a mean

age of 23. Females comprised 67.1% of the sample, men comprised 32.6% of the

sample, no students identified as transgendered, and students identifying as something

other than female, male, or transgendered comprised .3% of the sample. Students

identifying as African American/Black represented 32.3% of the sample, students

identifying as Asian represented 1.7% of the sample, students identifying as

25

Caucasian/White represented 55.5% of the sample, students identifying as

Hispanic/Latino represented 1.7% of the sample, and students identifying as other

represented 3.9% of the sample. It is important to consider the limitations of age, gender,

and ethnic/cultural identity demonstrated with this sample.

An a priori power analysis was conducted to aid in estimation of accurate sample

size. The analysis found the minimum acceptable sample size for this study to be 205,

given an anticipated effect size of .15 a desired statistical power of .80, and an alpha of

.10. In conjunction with the power analysis, sample sizes used in related studies were

considered. Most research related to this topic had a final sample size between 85 and

650 (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998; Goodwin & Roscoe, 1990; Liem & Boudewyn,

1999; Simonelli, et al, 2002; Steinmetz, 1978; Wiehe, 1997, 2000). Therefore, after

considering both the results of power analysis and related research, a target sample size

of 300 was used in this study. It was estimated the return rate would be 75% after those

who did not respond and those who returned incomplete surveys (three or more questions

unanswered) were accounted for, leaving a final estimate of the acceptable sample size to

be 225 participants for this analysis. A 75% return rate is a conservative estimate based

on a pilot study of 141 students in which the return rate was 94%. The actual study

exceeded the minimal sample criteria with 362 surveys administered, and 27 cases

excluded for missing or incomplete data, leaving a final sample of 335 and a return rate

of 94.1%.

26

Procedure

Prior to distributing the survey to the primary participant pool for this research

project, a small pilot study was conducted with undergraduate and graduate students from

the school of education and the school of arts and sciences. The survey was given to five

undergraduate and five graduate students to test for clarity of questions and amount of

time required for completion. The ten students were asked to give anonymous feedback

regarding confusing and/or challenging questions. Additionally, the pilot group was

asked to track how many minutes it took to complete the survey. Results from the pilot

study surveys were not included in the final analysis.

After the survey was tested for clarity and time completion, the primary

investigator administered the survey packets to individual classes across the university

campus. The primary investigator reviewed informed consent and explained that this

study is voluntary and anonymous, and that participants will not be asked to report any

specific identifying information.

In addition to the primary investigator explaining

informed consent verbally, participants had a detachable sheet on the front page of the

packet containing an explanation of informed consent, contact information for questions

regarding the survey, and the phone number for the psychological counseling center on

campus. Ensuring participants have information to connect to support services was

important given the topic this project is attempting to explore.

Following the explanation of informed consent, the primary investigator reviewed

the directions for completing the survey. The survey took approximately 10-15 minutes

to complete. The primary investigator did not collect surveys directly from students,

27

rather students were asked to place their surveys in a large envelope at the front of the

classroom. Students deciding not to participate were asked to turn in their blank surveys

in the envelope as well, hence allowing students greater anonymity in participation. The

primary investigator collected the envelope when each class had finished completing the

survey.

Instrumentation

This study utilizes an exploratory survey in which the first section is based on an

altered version of the original Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) (Straus, 1979). The CTS has

been well established over decades with internal reliability ranging from .79 to .95 and

stable, consistent construct validity demonstrated across hundreds of studies (Straus &

Gelles, 1990). Participants are asked to respond to each statement using a six point

Likert type rating scale. Responses to the first 36 questions, addressing prevalence and

severity of sibling abuse, can be answered in a range from never to always (0 = never, 1 =

very rarely, 2 = rarely, 3 = occasionally, 4 = very frequently, 5 = always). The following

are examples of the altered CTS questions in this section of the survey:

A sibling threatened

me with a knife or gun

0

1 2

3

4

5

I threatened a sibling with a knife or gun

0

1 2

3

4

5

These questions not only measure recollection of presence and severity of sibling abuse,

but also provide information regarding the type of experience with sibling abuse, as either

the survivor or perpetrator. For ease of interpretation, the physical abuse scales were

reverse coded during the analysis (0 = 5, 1 = 4, 2 = 3, 3 = 2, 4 = 1, 5 = 0).

As such, lower

scores on these scales indicate higher levels of psychological and sexual abuse, while

higher scores indicate lower levels of these types of sibling abuse.

28

The second section of the survey contains ten self-report questions from the

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965). These questions address global self-

esteem and are in a four point Likert type rating scale ranging from strongly agree to

strongly disagree (3 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 1 = disagree, and 0 = strongly disagree).

Reliability tests over time for the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965)

demonstrate adequate reliability, with average reliability ranging from .73 to .80 (Kaplan

& Pokormy 1969; Hagborg 1993). Over the past four decades, construct validity and

convergent validity have been consistently demonstrated in numerous studies (Gray-

Little, Williams, & Hancock, 1997; Hagborg, 1993). Additionally, this self-esteem scale

has been found to be especially reliable when used with high school and college students

(Bagley, Bolitho, & Bertrand, 1997; Goldsmith, 1986).

The third section of the survey is comprised of the Interpersonal Competencies

Questionnaire (ICQ) (Buhrmester, et al., 1988). This instrument is used to assess general

interpersonal skills. It is a self-report measure containing 40 questions and using a 6-

point Likert type rating scale ranging from "I'm poor at this" (0) to "I'm extremely good

at this" (5). The ICQ asks students to rate themselves across five interpersonal domains:

initiating relationships, personal disclosure, negative assertion, emotional support, and

managing interpersonal conflict. Reliability has been strong in the ICQ with test-retest

reliability averaging .78 and internal consistency reliability averaging .74 (Buhrmester,

1990; Herzberg, Hammen, Burge, Daley, Davila, & Lindberg, 1998; Mallinckrodt, 2000).

Convergent validity has been demonstrated through consistent high correlation with the

29

Social Reticence Scale (Jones & Russell, 1982) and the Dating and Assertiveness

Questionnaire (Levenson & Gottman, 1978).

Analysis

To explore the influencing force experience with sibling abuse has on the level of

self-esteem and interpersonal competency of college students, this project will use

simultaneous multiple regressions to study the two hypothesis proposed. To gain more

insight into how the specific experiences with sibling abuse may be influencing self-

esteem and interpersonal competencies, additional regressions were run on each

hypothesis to test how surviving and perpetrating sibling abuse impacts each.

This investigation is an exploratory study; therefore, an alpha of. 1 is an

acceptable level for significance. Allowing a more liberal significance level in this

research does not place participants in danger, but rather serves to draw attention to an

understudied area of violence. In this case reducing type II error and allowing more room

for type I error reduces the likelihood of dismissing the potentially meaningful social

phenomenon being researched (Hays, 1998; Huck, 2007). Additionally, sibling abuse

experience has been consistently underreported; thus allowing a more liberal level of

significance offsets some of the secrecy and minimization which accompanies the issue

(Phillips-Green, 2002; Simonelli et al., 2002).

30

CHAPTER 4: RESULTS

To facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the results from the study, this

chapter summarizes the statistical analyses used to explore the hypotheses outlined in the

previous three chapters.

The chapter begins with a review of procedures used to conduct

a preliminary examination of the data collected in order to gain insight related to the

trustworthiness of the analysis that were conducted. Following a description of the

preliminary analysis, the results of multiple regressions conducted to assess the two

primary hypotheses are reported. Additionally, specific results found related to the

particular groups of survivor and perpetrator as well as the type of abuse experienced

(physical, psychological, and/or sexual) are reported. Finally, a summary of the results

found in the analyses are reported.

Preliminary Analysis

Prior to running multiple regressions to test the two primary research hypotheses,

diagnostic tests were run to check for potential problems with missing data, out of range

data, intercorrelation, multicollinearity and outliers. To address issues with missing data,

participants leaving more than three answers on the survey blank were removed from the

final data set.

Frequencies were run on each survey question to determine if participants

had answered questions within the set range, as well as to uncover possible errors in data

entry.

In total, 27 cases were excluded from the final analysis in this study because of

missing or inaccurate data, leaving a final sample size of 335.

Intercorrelation was tested by examining the reliability of each scale used in the

survey. The sibling abuse scales were developed using an altered version of the Conflict

31

Tactics Scale (Straus, 1980). The total psychological sibling abuse scale reflected a

Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .85, with the subscale of perpetrating sibling

psychological abuse reflecting a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .705 and the subscale of

surviving sibling psychological abuse reflecting a Cronbach's alpha of .893. The total

physical sibling abuse scale reflected a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .924, with the

subscale of perpetrating sibling physical abuse reflecting a Cronbach's alpha of .849 and

the subscale of surviving sibling physical abuse reflecting a Cronbach's alpha of .847.

The total sexual sibling abuse scale reflected a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .593, with

the subscale of perpetrating sibling sexual abuse reflecting a Cronbach's alpha of .45, and

the subscale of surviving sibling sexual abuse reflecting a Cronbach's alpha of .425. All

three of the sibling sexual abuse scales indicate significant problems with reliability and

intercorrelation. Considerations regarding this issue are addressed in the report of results

and the discussion of limitations section of the concluding chapter.

The measure used for self-esteem was the Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale

(Rosenberg, 1965). The test for reliability of this scale reflected a Cronbach's alpha

coefficient of .85. This level of reliability corresponds to the typical reliability range for

this scale across a multitude of studies over time (Bushman & Baumeister, 2002;

Heatherton & Polivy, 1991; Robins, Hendin, & Trezesniewski, 2001).

The measure used for interpersonal competency was the 40 item Interpersonal

Competency Questionnaire (ICQ) (Buhrmester, et al., 1988) which contains five scales

used to measure different aspects of interpersonal competency. The Initiating

Relationships scale reflected a Cronbach's alpha of .903. The Providing Emotional

32

Support scale reflected a Cronbach's alpha of .865. The Asserting Influence scale

reflected a Cronbach's alpha of .860. The Self-Disclosure scale reflected a Cronbach's

alpha of .876. The Conflict Resolution scale reflected a Cronbach's alpha of .841.

Exploratory analyses for each type of sibling abuse indicated no problems with

multicollinearity (with the largest variance inflation factor among the groups being

1.872), and the assumptions of independence, normality, and heteroschedasticity were

met. Additionally, examination of the possibility of outliers and influential data points

indicated that there were no subjects who individually influenced the regression results.

Analysis Hypothesis 1

Multiple regression analysis was used to address the first research hypothesis:

Experiencing sibling abuse as a child inversely impacts the level of self esteem in college

students.

The independent or predictor variables were the three general indicators of

experience with sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS (Straus,

1979), which include overall experience with psychological sibling abuse, overall

experience with physical sibling abuse, and overall experience with sexual sibling abuse.

The dependent variable for this regression was the score students obtained on the

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965).

As shown in table 1, this regression model accounted for 4.8 percent of the

variance in predicting self-esteem (F(3, 335) =5.295,/? = .001). Although the model was

significant, only two of the three sibling abuse variables were significantly related to self-

esteem.

Experience with sibling psychological abuse (/?= -.279, t= 3.708,/? < .005), and

experience with sibling physical abuse (/?=.138,

t= 1.832,/? = .068) were both significant

33

at the ee=.l level. Experience with sibling sexual abuse was not found to be significant in

this regression model (/?= -.060, t - -1.077, p = .282). These results suggest that any type

of experience with sibling psychological abuse or sibling physical abuse as a child

negatively influences the self-esteem of college students. Rather, the more experience

one has with these two forms of sibling abuse as a child, the less self-esteem one will

have as a college student.

Table 1 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

t

Physical Sib Abuse (CTS PHYSICAL)

.782

.427

.138

1.832*

Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSPSYCH)

-1.850

.499

-.279

-3.706***

Sexual Sib Abuse (CTSSEX)

-1.093

1.015

-.060

-1.077

Experience with Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Level of Self-Esteem in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

To further examine the first research hypothesis, two additional regression

analyses were run to explore the influence a perpetrating experience and a surviving

experience have on the level of self-esteem in college students, respectively. In the first

of these two regressions, the independent or predictor variables were three specific

indicators of perpetrating sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS

(Straus, 1979), which includes perpetrating psychological sibling abuse, perpetrating

34

physical sibling abuse, and perpetrating sexual sibling abuse. The dependent variable for

this regression was the score students obtained on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale

(Rosenberg, 1965).

Table 2 shows this regression model accounted for 4.6 % of the variance in

predicting self-esteem (F(3, 335) = 5.054, p = .002). Two of the three predictor

variables were found to have a significant impact on self-esteem in the presence of the

other variables in the model.

The results were as follows: perpetrating sibling

psychological abuse (/?= -.263, t = -3.545,/? < .005), perpetrating sibling physical abuse

(/? =. 131,

t=\ .766, p = .078), both significant at the a=. 1 level. Perpetrating sibling

sexual abuse was not found to be significant in this regression (/? = -069,

t = -1.240, p =

.216). This analysis suggests the more experience one has perpetrating sibling

psychological abuse or sibling physical abuse as a child, the more likely he or she will be

to have lower self-esteem as a college student.

Table 2 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

t

Perp Physical Sib Abuse (CTS IPHYSICAL)

.724

.410

.131

1.766*

Perp Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSJPSYCH)

-1.721

.485

-.263

-3.545***

Perp Sexual Sib Abuse (CTSJSEX)

-1.541

1.243

-.069

.216

35

Experience Perpetrating Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Level oj Self-Esteem in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

The second regression was run to explore the influence of surviving sibling abuse

on the self-esteem of college students. The independent or predictor variables were three

specific indicators of surviving sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the

CTS (Straus, 1979), which includes surviving psychological sibling abuse, surviving

physical sibling abuse, and surviving sexual sibling abuse. The dependent variable for

this regression was the score students obtained on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale

(Rosenberg, 1965).

As outlined in table 3, this regression model accounted for 3.2 % of the variance

in predicting self-esteem (F (3, 335) = 4.432,/? = .005). Surviving sibling psychological

abuse was the only one of the three predictor variables found to have a significant impact

on self-esteem at the C£=.l level in the presence of the other variables in the model (J3= -

.252, t = -3.397,/? < .005).

Surviving sibling physical abuse and surviving sibling

sexual abuse were not found to be significant in this regression, with the results as

follows: surviving sibling physical abuse (fi =. 109

t = 1.466, p = .144); surviving sibling

sexual abuse (/?= -.037, t = -.664, p = .507). This analysis suggests the more sibling

psychological abuse one survives as a child, the more likely he or she is to have a low

level of self-esteem as a college student.

36

Table 3

Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

(3

/

Surv Physical Sib Abuse (CTSSPHYSICAL)

.610

.416

.109

1.466

Surv Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSSPSYCH)

-1.574

.463

-.252

.3.397***

Surv Sexual Sib Abuse (CTS_SSEX)

-.502

.756

-.037

-.664

Experience Surviving Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Level of Self-Esteem in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

Analysis Hypothesis 2

Multiple regression analysis was used to address the second research hypothesis:

Experiencing

sibling abuse as a child inversely

impacts interpersonal

relationship

competency

in college students.

As the ICQ (Buhrmester, et al., 1988) uses five separate

scales to measure the primary spheres of interpersonal satisfaction and functioning,

separate regressions will be run to test the influence of sibling abuse on each of these

domains.

Initiating

Relationships

The first area of interpersonal competency examined is one's ability to initiate

relationships. The independent or predictor variables were the three general indicators of

experience with sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS (Straus,

37

1979), which includes overall experience with psychological sibling abuse, overall

experience with physical sibling abuse, and overall experience with sexual sibling abuse.

The dependent variable for this regression is the average score obtained on the Initiating

Relationships scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester, et al., 1988).

Table 4 indicates this regression model accounted for 4.8 % of the variance in

predicting ability to initiate relationships (F(3, 335) =5.612,/? = .001). Although the

model was significant, only two of the three sibling abuse variables were significantly

related to ability to initiate relationships.

Experience with sibling psychological abuse (/?

= -.289, t= -3.980, p <.005), and experience with sibling physical abuse (/? =.246,

t

-

3.379, p = .001) were both significant at the a = .1 level, in the presence of the other

variables in the model. Experience with sibling sexual abuse was not found to be

significant in this regression model (fi=

.013, t = .247, p = .805). These results propose

that any type of experience with sibling psychological abuse or sibling physical abuse

negatively influences the ability of college students to initiate relationships.

Table 4 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

t

Physical Sib Abuse (CTS_PHYSICAL)

.264

.078

.246

3379***

Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSPSYCH)

-.360

.090

-.289

-3.980***

Sexual Sib Abuse (CTS_SEX)

.044

.177

.013

.247

38

Experience with Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Initiating Relationships in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

In order to obtain an in depth understanding of the influence sibling abuse has on

the ability to initiate relationships, two additional regression analyses were run to

investigate the influence a perpetrating experience and a surviving experience have on

this domain of interpersonal competency. In the first of these two regressions, the

independent or predictor variables were three specific indicators of perpetrating sibling

abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS (Straus, 1979), which includes

perpetrating psychological sibling abuse, perpetrating physical sibling abuse, and

perpetrating sexual sibling abuse. The dependent variable for this regression is the score

students obtained on the Initiating Relationships scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester, et al.,

1988).

Table 5 shows this regression model accounted for 4.7 % of the variance in

predicting one's ability to initiate relationships (F (3, 335) = 5.454, p = .001). Two of the

three predictor variables were found to have a significant impact in the presence of the

other variables in the model.

The results were as follows: perpetrating sibling

psychological abuse (/?= -.282, t= -3.948,/? < .005), perpetrating sibling physical abuse

(/?=.232,

t = 3.241,/? < .005), both significant at the a-.l

level. Perpetrating sibling

sexual abuse was not found to be significant in this regression (/?= -017,

t = -316, p =

.752). This analysis suggests the more experience one has perpetrating sibling

psychological abuse and/or sibling physical abuse as a child, the more likely he or she

will be to have difficulty initiating relationships.

39

Table 5 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

(3

t

Perp Physical Sib Abuse (CTSJPHYSICAL)

.243

.075

.232

3.241***

Perp Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSJPSYCH)

-.347

.088

-.282

-3.948***

Perp Sexual Sib Abuse (CTSISEX)

-.069

.219

-.017

-.316

Experience Perpetrating Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Initiating Relationships in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

In the second of the two regressions addressing specifics related to ability to

initiate relationships, the independent or predictor variables were three specific indicators

of surviving sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS (Straus, 1979),

which includes surviving psychological sibling abuse, surviving physical sibling abuse,

and surviving sexual sibling abuse. The dependent variable for this regression is the

score students obtained on the Initiating Relationships scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester,

Furman, Wittenberg & Reis, 1988).

As outlined in table 6, the regression model accounted for 4.2 % of the variance

in predicting one's ability to initiate relationships (F (3, 335) = 4.852,/? = .003). Two of

the three predictor variables were found to have a significant impact in the presence of

the other variables in the model.

The results were as follows: surviving sibling

40

psychological abuse (/?= -.259, / = -3.618,/? < .005); surviving sibling physical abuse

(/? =.225,

t = 3.144, p < .005), both significant at the a=.l level. Surviving sibling

sexual abuse was not found to be significant in this regression (ft =.037,

t = .683, p =

.495). This analysis suggests the more experience one has surviving sibling

psychological abuse and sibling physical abuse as a child, the more likely he or she will

be to have difficulty initiating relationships.

Table 6 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

/

Surv Physical Sib Abuse (CTSSPHYSICAL)

.239

.076

.225

3.144***

Surv Psychological Sib Abuse (CTS_SPSYCH)

-.305

.084

-.249

-3.618***

Surv Sexual Sib Abuse (CTS_SSEX)

.089

.130

.037

.683

Experience Surviving Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Initiating Relationships in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

Provide Emotional Support

The second sphere of interpersonal competency studied involves the ability to

provide emotional support. The independent or predictor variables were the three general

indicators of experience with sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the

CTS (Straus, 1979), which includes overall experience with psychological sibling abuse,

41

overall experience with physical sibling abuse, and overall experience with sexual sibling

abuse. The dependent variable for this regression is the average score obtained on the

Providing Emotional Support scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester, et al., 1988).

Table 7 indicates this regression model accounted for 9.4 % of the variance in

predicting ability to provide emotional support (F (3,335) =11.483, p - .000). Two of the

three sibling abuse variables were found to significantly influence the dependent variable

in this model.

Experience with sibling psychological abuse (/?= -.413, t = -5.835,/? <

.005), and experience with sibling physical abuse (ft =.283,

/=3.992,p < .000) were both

significant at the a = .1 level, in the presence of the other variables in the regression.

Experience with sibling sexual abuse was not significant in this regression model

(/?= -T034, t — -.648, p = .517). These results indicate that any type of experience with

sibling psychological abuse and sibling physical abuse negatively influences the ability of

college students to provide emotional support.

Table 7 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEE

(3

/

Physical Sib Abuse (CTSPHYSICAL)

.217

.054

.283

3.992***

Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSPSYCH)

-.368

.063

-.413

-5.835***

Sexual Sib Abuse (CTS_SEX)

-.080

.124

-.034

.517

42

Experience with Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Ability to Provide Emotional Support in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

As was done with the domain of initiating relationships, two additional regression

analyses were run to explore the influence a perpetrating experience and a surviving

experience have on one's ability to provide emotional support. The first of these two

regressions consists of independent or predictor variables comprised of three specific

indicators of perpetrating sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS

(Straus, 1979), which includes perpetrating psychological sibling abuse, perpetrating

physical sibling abuse, and perpetrating sexual sibling abuse. The dependent variable for

this regression is the score students obtained on the Providing Emotional Support scale of

the ICQ (Buhrmester, Furman, Wittenberg & Reis, 1988).

Table 8 shows this regression model accounted for 9.1 % of the variance in

predicting one's ability to provide emotional support (F (3, 335) = 11.170,/? = .000).

Two of the three predictor variables were found to have a significant impact in the

presence of the other variables in the model.

The results were as follows: perpetrating

sibling psychological abuse (/?= -.395, / = -5.654,/? < .005), perpetrating sibling physical

abuse (/?=.251, t= 3.590,/? < .005), both significant at the a =.1 level. Perpetrating

sibling sexual abuse was not found to be significant in this regression (/? = -7O6I, t - -

1.160,/? = .247). This analysis suggests the more experience one has perpetrating sibling

psychological abuse and/or sibling physical abuse, the more likely he or she will be to

have difficulty providing emotional support in relationships as a college student.

43

Table 8 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

/

Perp Physical Sib Abuse (CTSIPHYSICAL)

.188

.052

.251

3.590***

Perp Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSIPSYCH)

-.347

.061

-.395

-5.654***

Perp Sexual Sib Abuse (CTSISEX)

-.177

.153

-.061

-1.160

Experience Perpetrating Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Ability to Provide Emotional Support in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

The regression model addressing specifics related to the influence of a surviving

experience on one's ability to provide emotional support contains independent or

predictor variables comprised of three specific indicators of surviving sibling abuse as

determined by the altered version of the CTS (Straus, 1979), which includes surviving

psychological sibling abuse, surviving physical sibling abuse, and surviving sexual

sibling abuse. The dependent variable for this regression is the score students obtained

on the Providing Emotional Support scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester, et al., 1988).

Table 9 outlines the results of this analysis. This regression model accounted for

8.0 % of the variance in predicting one's ability to initiate relationships (F (3, 335) =

9.680, p = .000). Two of the three predictor variables were found to have a significant

impact in the presence of the other variables in the model: surviving sibling

44

psychological abuse (j3 = -.377, t = -5.374,/) < .005); surviving sibling physical abuse

(P=.267,

t= 3.802, p < .005), both significant at the a~.\

level. Surviving sibling sexual

abuse was not found to be significant in this regression (j3 = -002,

t = -.032, p = .975).

These results indicate the more experience one has surviving sibling psychological abuse

and/or sibling physical abuse as a child, the more likely he or she will be to have

difficulty providing emotional support in relationships as a college student.

Table 9 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

t

Surv Physical Sib Abuse (CTS_SPHYSICAL)

.202

.053

.267

3.802***

Surv Psychological Sib Abuse (CTS_SPSYCH)

-317

.059

-.377

.5374***

Surv Sexual Sib Abuse (CTS_SSEX)

-.003

.091

-.002

-.032

Experience Surviving Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Providing Emotional Support in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

Asserting Influence

The third aspect of interpersonal competency studied involves the ability of one to

assert influence in relationships. The independent or predictor variables were the three

general indicators of experience with sibling abuse as determined by the altered version

of the CTS (Straus, 1979), which includes overall experience with psychological sibling

45

abuse, overall experience with physical sibling abuse, and overall experience with sexual

sibling abuse. The dependent variable for this regression is the average score obtained on

the Asserting Influence scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester, et al., 1988).

As table 10 demonstrates, this regression model accounted for 3.7 % of the

variance in predicting ability to assert influence in relationships (F (3, 335) = 4.281,/? =

.006). Two of the three sibling abuse variables were determined to significantly influence

the dependent variable in this model.

Experience with sibling psychological abuse

{fi--

.206, t = -2.815,/? = .005), and experience with sibling physical abuse (/?=.259,

t =3.536,

p < .005) were both significant at the a= .1 level, in the presence of the other variables in

the regression. Experience with sibling sexual abuse was not found to be significant in

this regression model (fi = -r014, t = -.259, p = .796). These results suggest that any type

of experience with sibling psychological abuse and sibling physical abuse negatively

influences the ability of college students to assert influence in relationships.

Table 10 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

t

Physical Sib Abuse (CTSPHYSICAL)

 

.222

.063

.259

3.536***

Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSPSYCH)

-.205

.073

-.206

-2.815***

Sexual Sib Abuse

 

(CTS

SEX)

-.037

.143

-.014

-.259

Experience

with Psychological

Sibling Abuse,

Physical

Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling

Abuse

Predicting

Asserting

Influence

in College

Student

 

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

 

46

Once again, two additional regression analyses were run to investigate the

influence a perpetrating experience and a surviving experience have on one's ability to

assert influence in relationships. The first of these two regressions consists of

independent or predictor variables comprised of three specific indicators of perpetrating

sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS (Straus, 1979), which

includes perpetrating psychological sibling abuse, perpetrating physical sibling abuse,

and perpetrating sexual sibling abuse. The dependent variable for this regression is the

score students obtained on the Asserting Influence scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester, et al.,

1988).

Table 11 demonstrates this regression model accounted for 3.4 % of the variance

in predicting one's ability to assert influence in relationships (F (3, 335) = 3.882, p =

.009). Much like the previous regressions discussed thus far, perpetrating sibling

psychological abuse (J3= -.192, t= -2.669, p = .008), and perpetrating sibling physical

abuse (/? =.240,

/ = 3.324,p < .005), were both significant in this model at the a=. 1

level. Again, perpetrating sibling sexual abuse was not found to be significant in this

regression {fi =-033,

t = -.605, p = .546). The results of the analysis indicate the more

experience one has perpetrating sibling psychological abuse and/or sibling physical

abuse, the more likely he or she will be to have difficulty asserting influence in

relationships.

Table 11 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

47

(3

t

Perp Physical Sib Abuse (CTSIPHYSICAL)

.200

.060

.240

3.324***

Perp Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSIPSYCH)

-.189

.071

-.192

-2.669***

Perp Sexual Sib Abuse (CTSJSEX)

-.106

.176

-.033

-.605

Experience Perpetrating Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Asserting Influence in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

In the second of the two regressions dealing with specifics related to one's ability

to assert influence in relationships, the independent or predictor variables were three

specific indicators of surviving sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the

CTS (Straus, 1979), which includes surviving psychological sibling abuse, surviving

physical sibling abuse, and surviving sexual sibling abuse. The dependent variable for

this regression is the score students obtained on the Asserting Influence scale of the ICQ

(Buhrmester, et al., 1988).

Table 12 indicates this regression model accounted for 3.5 % of the variance in

predicting one's ability to assert influence in relationships (F (3, 335) = 4.079,/? = .007).

Surviving sibling psychological abuse (J3= -.190, t = -2.644, p = .009), and surviving

sibling physical abuse (/? =.249,

t = 3.459, p < .005) were both significant in the presence

of the other variables in this model at the a=.\

level.

Surviving sibling sexual abuse was

not found to be significant in this regression (J3 = .002,

t = .045,/? = .964). The results

of this regression indicate the more experience one has surviving sibling psychological

48

abuse and/or sibling physical abuse as a child, the more likely he or she will be to have

difficulty asserting influence in relationships.

Table 12 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

t

Surv Physical Sib Abuse (CTS SPHYSICAL)

.211

.061

.249

3.459***

Surv Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSSPSYCH)

-.179

.068

-.190

-2.644***

Surv Sexual Sib Abuse (CTSSSEX)

.005

.104

.002

.045

Experience Surviving Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Asserting Influence in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

Self-Disclosure

***p<.01

The fourth sphere of interpersonal competency considered involves self-

disclosure.

The independent or predictor variables were the three general indicators of

experience with sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS (Straus,

1979), which include overall experience with psychological sibling abuse, overall

experience with physical sibling abuse, and overall experience with sexual sibling abuse.

The dependent variable for this regression is the average score obtained on the Self-

Disclosure scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester, et al., 1988).

49

As shown in table 13, this regression model was not found to be significant, with

1.1 % of the variance in predicting self-disclosure (F(3 , 335) =1.261, p = .288). The

results of the three sibling abuse variables are: experience with sibling psychological

abuse (/?= -.073, / = -.987, p = .324), experience with sibling physical abuse (J3 =.141, t

= 1.902,_p = .058), experience with sibling sexual abuse (J3 = -rOl 1, / = -.197, p = .844).

These results indicate that general experience with any type of sibling abuse does not

influence self-disclosure.

Table 13 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

/

Physical Sib Abuse (CTSPHYSICAL)

.151

.080

.141

1.902

Psychological Sib Abuse (CTS PSYCH)

-.091

.092

-.073

-.987

Sexual Sib Abuse (CTS SEX)

-.036

.181

-.011

-.197

Experience with Psychological

Predicting Self-Disclosure in College Students

Sibling Abuse,

Physical

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling

Abuse

Even though the general model addressing the influence of sibling abuse on self-

disclosure was not found to be significant, the additional regression analyses were run to

explore if the influence of a perpetrating experience and a surviving experience are

significant on one's ability to provide emotional support. The first of these two

regressions consists of independent or predictor variables comprised of three specific

50

indicators of perpetrating sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS

(Straus, 1979), which includes perpetrating psychological sibling abuse, perpetrating

physical sibling abuse, and perpetrating sexual sibling abuse. The dependent variable for

this regression is the score students obtained on the Self-Disclosure scale of the ICQ

(Buhrmester, et al, 1988).

Table 14 indicates this regression model was not significant, and accounted for

.7% of the variance in predicting one's ability to provide emotional support {F (3, 335) =

.768, p = .513). Results of the three predictor variables were as follows: perpetrating

sibling psychological abuse (/?= -.030, t= -A14,p

= .679), perpetrating sibling physical

abuse (/? =.093,

t = 1.334, p = . 183), and perpetrating sibling sexual abuse (fi =-r026,

t =

-.473, p = .637). The results suggest the experience one has perpetrating any form of

sibling abuse has no significant influence on self-disclosure.

Table 14 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

/

Perp Physical Sib Abuse (CTSJPHYSICAL)

.102

.076

.098

1.334

Perp Psychological Sib Abuse (CTS IPSYCH)

-.037

.090

-.030

-.414

Perp Sexual Sib Abuse (CTSJSEX)

-.106

.223

-.026

-.473

Experience Perpetrating Psychological

Sibling Abuse,

Physical

Sibling Abuse,

and Sexual

Sibling

Abuse Predicting Self-Disclosure in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

51

In the second of the two regressions addressing specifics related to self-disclosure,

the independent or predictor variables were three specific indicators of surviving sibling

abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS (Straus, 1980), which includes

surviving psychological sibling abuse, surviving physical sibling abuse, and surviving

sexual sibling abuse. The dependent variable for this regression is the score students

obtained on the Self-Disclosure scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester, et al., 1988).

Table 15 shows this regression model was not significant, and accounted for 1.7

% of the variance in predicting one's ability to self-disclose (F (3, 335) = 1.869, p =

.135). Results of the three predictor variables were: surviving sibling psychological

abuse (/?= -.103, t= -1.425,/? = .155); surviving sibling physical abuse (fi-

.171,

t =

2.358,p = .019); surviving sibling sexual abuse (J3= .000,

t=-.00\,p

= .999). This

regression proposes surviving any form of sibling abuse does not significantly influence

self-disclosure.

Table 15 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

/

Surv Physical Sib Abuse (CTSSPHYSICAL)

.181

.077

.171

2.358

Surv Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSSPSYCH)

-.122

.085

-.103

-1.425

Surv Sexual Sib Abuse (CTSSSEX)

-.000

.132

.000

-.001

Experience Surviving Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Self-Disclosure in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

52

Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is the final dimension of interpersonal competency in the ICQ

(Buhrmester, et al., 1988).

The independent or predictor variables were the three general

indicators of experience with sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the

CTS (Straus, 1979), which includes overall experience with psychological sibling abuse,

overall experience with physical sibling abuse, and overall experience with sexual sibling

abuse. The dependent variable for this regression is the average score obtained on the

Conflict Resolution scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester, et al., 1988).

As shown in table 16, this regression model accounted for 9.4 % of the variance

in predicting ability to use effective conflict resolution techniques in relationships (F (3,

335) =11.564,/? = .000). Two of the three sibling abuse variables were found to

significantly influence the dependent variable in this model.

Experience with sibling

psychological abuse (fi= -.380, t= -5.361, p < .005), and experience with sibling physical

abuse (/?= .134,

t = 1.882,/? = .061) were both significant at the a= .1 level, in the

presence of the other variables in the model. Experience with sibling sexual abuse was

not found to be significant in this regression model (/? = .043, t = .812,p = All).

These

results suggest that any type of experience with sibling psychological abuse and/or

sibling physical abuse negatively influences effective conflict resolution skills.

Table 16 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

Physical Sib Abuse (CTSPHYSICAL)

B

.115

SEB

.061

53

(3

.134

/

1.882*

Psychological Sib Abuse (CTS_PSYCH)

-.380

.071

-.380

-5.361***

Sexual Sib Abuse (CTSSEX)

.113

.139

.043

.812

Experience with Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Conflict Resolution in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

Just as with the previous four interpersonal competency variables, two additional

regression analyses were run to explore the influence a perpetrating experience and a

surviving experience have on conflict resolution. The first of these two regressions

consists of independent or predictor variables comprised of three specific indicators of

perpetrating sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS (Straus, 1979),

which includes perpetrating psychological sibling abuse, perpetrating physical sibling

abuse, and perpetrating sexual sibling abuse. The dependent variable for this regression

is the score students obtained on the Conflict Resolution scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester, et

al., 1988).

Table 17 demonstrates this regression model accounted for 9.5 % of the variance

in predicting one's ability to effectively use conflict resolution techniques (F (3, 335) =

11.651,/? = .000). One of the three predictor variables (perpetrating psychological

sibling abuse) was found to have a significant impact on conflict resolution at the «=. 1

level in the presence of the other variables in the model (J3= -.370, t = -5.306,/? < .000).

Perpetrating sibling sexual abuse (J3 = .010,

f = .182,/? = .855), and perpetrating sibling

physical abuse {fi =. 109

t = 1.561, p = .120) were not found to be significant in this

54

regression. This analysis suggests the more experience one has perpetrating sibling

psychological abuse, the more likely he or she will be to have difficulty utilizing effective

conflict resolution skills.

Table 17 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

t

Perp Physical Sib Abuse (CTSIPHYSICAL)

.091

.059

.109

1.561

Perp Psychological Sib Abuse (CTSIPSYCH)

-.365

.069

-.370

-5.306***

Perp Sexual Sib Abuse (CTSISEX)

.031

.171

.010

.182

Experience Perpetrating Psychological Sibling Abuse, Physical Sibling Abuse, and Sexual Sibling Abuse Predicting Conflict Resolution in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

For the second of the two regressions addressing specifics related to conflict

resolution, the independent or predictor variables were three specific indicators of

surviving sibling abuse as determined by the altered version of the CTS (Straus, 1979),

which includes surviving psychological sibling abuse, surviving physical sibling abuse,

and surviving sexual sibling abuse. The dependent variable for this regression is the

score students obtained on the Conflict Resolution scale of the ICQ (Buhrmester, et al.,

1988).

55

Table 18 indicates this regression model accounted for 8.0 % of the variance in

predicting one's ability to effectively use conflict resolution in relationships (F(3, 335) =

9.716,/? < .005). Two of the three predictor variables were found to have a significant

impact in the presence of the other variables in the model: surviving sibling

psychological abuse (J3— -.345, t = -4.926,/? < .005); surviving sibling physical abuse

(/? =.122,

t= 1.735, p = .084), both significant at the «=. 1 level. Surviving sibling

sexual abuse was not found to be significant in this regression (/? = , 070,

t= 1.324, p =

. 186). The results suggest the more experience one has surviving sibling psychological

abuse and/or sibling physical abuse as a child, the more likely he or she will be to have

difficulty utilizing effective conflict resolution skills in relationships.

Table 18 Simultaneous Regression Analysis

Variable

B

SEB

p

/

Surv Physical Sib Abuse (CTS^SPHYSICAL)

.104

.060

.122

1.735*

Surv Psychological Sib Abuse (CTS_SPSYCH)

-.326

.066

-.345

-4.926***

Surv Sexual Sib Abuse (CTS_SSEX)

.136

.102

.070

1.324

Experience Surviving Psychological

Sibling Abuse, Physical

Sibling Abuse,

and Sexual

Sibling

Abuse Predicting Conflict Resolution in College Students

*p<.10

**p<.05

***p<.01

56

Summary of Results

The analyses conducted to investigate the two hypotheses at the center of this

study produced some significant findings. Results of multiple regressions testing the

hypothesis: Experiencing sibling abuse as a child inversely impacts level of self-esteem in

college students found that experiencing any form of psychological sibling abuse or

physical sibling abuse as a child has a negative and significant impact on the level of self-

esteem one has as a college student. The regressions examining perpetrating and

surviving experiences on the level of self-esteem as a college student found the

following: perpetrating psychological sibling abuse as a child has a negative and

significant influence on the level of self-esteem one has as a college student; surviving

psychological sibling abuse or physical sibling abuse as a child has a negative and

significant influence on the level of self-esteem one has as a college student. Sibling

sexual abuse was not a significant influencing factor on the level of self-esteem in college

students when run as a general predicting variable, specific perpetrator predicting

variable or specific survivor predicting variable in the regression models. It is important

to note that none of the sibling sexual abuse variables demonstrated acceptable reliability

for internal consistency of the scales, which may have had an impact on the outcome

sibling sexual abuse established in this study.

Multiple regressions run to test the second hypothesis: Experiencing sibling abuse

as a child inversely impacts interpersonal relationship competency in college students,

also resulted in some significant findings. Results suggest experiencing any form of

sibling psychological abuse or sibling physical abuse as a child has a significant and

57

negative impact on one's ability to initiate relationships, provide emotional support,

assert influence, and use conflict resolution techniques in relationships as a college

student. Self-disclosure is the only domain of interpersonal competency for which the

results did not indicate a significant influencing relationship with experiencing sibling

abuse as a child.

Regressions exploring the influence of perpetrating behavior on interpersonal

competencies found that perpetrating sibling psychological abuse or sibling physical

abuse as a child has a negative and significant influence on one's ability to initiate

relationships, provide emotional support, and assert influence in relationships as a college

student. Perpetrating psychological abuse as a child was found to have a significant and

negative impact on one's ability to effectively use conflict resolution in relationships as a

college student. No significant relationship was found in the regression model examining

perpetrating sibling abuse and self-disclosure.

The investigation of how surviving sibling abuse impacts the five spheres of

interpersonal competencies yielded results indicating that surviving sibling psychological

or physical abuse as a child has a significant and negative influence on one's ability to

initiate relationships, provide emotional support, assert influence, and effectively use

conflict resolution in relationships as a college student. As was the case with analyses

discussed previously, self-disclosure was the only domain of interpersonal competency

that did not indicate the presence of a significant influencing relationship with surviving

any form of sibling abuse.

58

Sibling sexual abuse as a general, perpetrating, or surviving predicting variable

did not demonstrate significance in any regression analyses conducted to address the

hypothesis related to interpersonal competency. Again, it is critical to consider the fact

that the scales measuring sibling sexual abuse did not meet acceptable standards for

reliability or internal consistency. The problems with the sexual abuse scales render the

results related to sibling sexual abuse unreliable and should, therefore, not be assumed

insignificant based on this study. Further considerations regarding limitations related to

the sibling sexual abuse results will be discussed in the limitations section of the

discussion chapter.

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CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION

This chapter will provide an inclusive discussion of the implications of the results

presented in chapter 4. The primary results of the analyses conducted will be reviewed in

relation to how they build on the literature associated with the study of sibling abuse.

Moreover, limitations of the research in this study will be evaluated. The chapter will

conclude with a review of implications for counselor education, college counselors, and

future research.

Implications of Results

Hypothesis 1

This study used an exploratory survey to investigate two primary hypotheses

regarding the influence experiencing sibling abuse as a child has on the two well-being

constructs of self-esteem and interpersonal competency in college students. Hypothesis 1

purported that experiencing sibling abuse as a child would inversely impact the level of

self-esteem in college students. The results of multiple regression analyses supported this

hypothesis.

In particular, experiencing psychological sibling abuse and/or physical

sibling abuse as a child were shown to be significant and unique, negative, influencing

indicators of one's level of self-esteem as a college student. Further, the more experience

one has with perpetrating psychological and physical sibling abuse as a child, and/or

surviving psychological sibling abuse as a child the lower the level of self-esteem he or

she is likely to have as a college student, according to the outcome of this study.

These findings offer support for a theoretical link between having some manner of

experience with sibling psychological or physical abuse as a child and having a low level

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of self-esteem as a college student. This study builds on research conducted by Caya

and Liem (1998) and Daniel (1999), in which the sibling relationship was determined to

be one of the most important forces in the development of self-esteem. While these

studies consider the importance of the sibling relationship on the formation of self-

esteem, the sibling relationship was focused on only as a secondary issue and neither

study addresses how an abusive sibling relationship influences the development of self-

esteem. The current study attempts to grapple with this missing piece in the literature and

uses empirical research to specifically examine how abusive sibling relationships

influence self-esteem.

Hypothesis 2

Hypothesis 2 stated that experiencing sibling abuse as a child inversely impacts

interpersonal relationship competency in college students. The outcome of regression

analyses resulted with significant findings supporting this hypothesis. Four out of five

domains of interpersonal competency (initiating relationships, providing emotional

support, asserting influence, and conflict resolution) found experiencing any form of

psychological or physical sibling abuse to be a unique and significant, negative,

influencing factor on outcome in relationships as a college student.

Specifically,

perpetrating psychological sibling abuse and perpetrating physical sibling abuse were

shown to have a negative and significant influence on initiating relationships, providing

emotional support, and asserting influence.

Perpetrating psychological sibling abuse

also has a negative and significant influence on effective conflict resolution skills.

Additionally, surviving psychological sibling abuse and surviving physical sibling abuse

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were shown to have a negative and significant influence on initiating relationships,

providing emotional support, asserting influence, and utilizing effective conflict

resolution skills.

These results support a theoretical link between experiencing sibling abuse as a

child and having negative interpersonal competency abilities as a college student. Prior

studies conducted by Raver and Volling (2007), and Cutting and Dunn (2006) examined

how family relationships, including the sibling relationship, influence the long-term

development of interpersonal competencies, though neither study addressed the

consequences of an abusive sibling relationship. This dissertation builds upon that

research by using empirical analysis to consider the specific consequences of an abusive

sibling relationship on the development of interpersonal competencies in college

students.

Limitations

One major limitation of this study involves outcome related to sibling sexual

abuse. Oddly, this study did not find an association between the experience of sibling

sexual abuse and current sense of well-being, which is synchronistic with present

literature on this topic (Haskins, 2003; Phillips-Green, 2002). However, many factors

may have influenced these results. Only three sets of questions (six questions total) were

used in the survey to address abusive sibling sexual abuse. As a result, the reliability of

the scales measuring this form of abuse was poor, with the combined scale reflecting a

Cronbach's alpha of only .593 and the subscales for survivors and perpetrators reflecting

Cronbach alpha scores of .425 and .45, respectively. The reliability scores indicate

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significant problems with internal consistency. The questions used to measure sibling

sexual abuse need to be re-worked and reconsidered in terms of if they are measuring the

intended construct. In addition, it would likely be beneficial to incorporate additional

questions related to these scales.

The second consideration in regard to the results concerning sibling sexual abuse,

is the reality that sexual abuse is often more difficult to disclose than other forms of abuse

(Alaggia, 2004; Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998; Wolfe, Francis & Straatman, 2006;

Wiehe, 1997). In cases of sibling molestation, disclosure is usually delayed or happens

accidentally when it is discovered by a third party such as through routine medical

examination (Alaggia, 2004). The average delay of disclosing sibling abuse is 3-18

years, which indicates many children live with the sexual assault and do not receive

treatment until well into adulthood. While it is rare for survivors of every form of sexual

abuse to disclose the abuse immediately, survivors of sibling sexual abuse experience the

added complication of not wanting to betray a sibling (Alaggia, 2004; Finklehor &

Browne, 1985; Wolf et al., 2006). When siblings do report sexual abuse, parents and

guardians frequently respond with disbelief, which models behavior non-accepting of the

abuse that has occurred and leaves the impression reporting sexual abuse is negative

(Wiehe, 1990). In light of these circumstances, it seems probable students with sibling

sexual abuse history would not feel comfortable disclosing on this survey.

The fact that the survey was self-report presents another limitation to this study.

In spite of the reality that the survey was anonymous and voluntary, the force of social

desirability could have influenced how students chose to respond. It was assumed that

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students were reporting in a truthful manner; however, there was not an accurate and

accessible means for which to test the validity of student responses in this study.

Therefore, it is possible that responses were included in the analyses that were not

reflective of some students' reality.

There is a limitation related to the research design of this study. As family

violence is typically a systemic problem, it is likely that the experience of sibling abuse

does not occur in isolation of other forms of abuse. This study did not consider the effect

possible interaction of experiencing other forms of abuse in addition to sibling abuse may

have on the outcome. Future research modeling this dissertation can modify the survey

to include questions addressing other abusive family experiences. The challenge to this

will be to maintain a primary focus on sibling abuse and not designate the sibling abuse

experience as secondary to other forms of family violence.

An additional limitation to the study involves the sample. Students included in

the study were obtained through a convenience sample for which permission was granted

by the instructor for the primary investigator to directly administer the survey in his or

her classroom. While access to several classes in the hard sciences and school of

business were attempted, permission to administer the survey to these classes was not

obtained. As a result, only classes for fields in the school of education and the school of

arts and sciences were included in this dissertation.

The sample also represents students

from only one university, and it is possible the outcome of the study would not be the

same were it replicated at different college or university.

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A further limitation is the lack of attention paid to identity variables (such as age,

gender, and cultural identity) beyond the basic scope of demographic reporting. It is

possible that these variables could prove significant factors in how one responds to the

experience of sibling abuse, and in turn, how he or she develops self-esteem and

interpersonal competencies. Clearly, results of this study should not be generalized to the

larger college and university populations; rather the analyses offers a starting point to

stimulate further research on the prevalence of and treatment for the consequences of

sibling abuse as they specifically relate to college students.

Implications for Counselor Education

As this research supports, the experience of sibling abuse has long-term

consequences on the development of self-esteem and interpersonal competencies. With

this in mind, counselor education as it relates to sibling abuse must begin attending to this

phenomenon. Counselors must be taught to explore issues of sibling maltreatment,

especially when working with a client for whom other forms of abuse exist. Considering

the systemic nature of abuse, it is vital that therapists be trained to investigate the entire

family history in terms of interpersonal functioning, rather than overlooking the

importance of the sibling relationship, as it is currently the case that it is rare for a client

to be asked about his or her sibling relationships.

To facilitate this type of learning,

counselor education training can incorporate literature related to the importance of sibling

relationships and sibling abuse when studying topics of family violence. Experiential

techniques, such as role-playing, can be used to provide an opportunity for counselors-in-

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training to practice asking about abusive sibling relationships. This type of training will

promote knowledge and improve clinical interventions of new counselors.

In addition, instruction regarding the use of assessment mechanisms, such as

intake interviews, to consider sibling conflict is important. Counselors must learn how to

advocate for education and support surrounding the issues of sibling abuse; a necessary

step towards re-defining societal norms about sibling maltreatment (Wiehe, 1997). In

general, greater study of sibling abuse will improve the abilities of counselors to assist

the students, families, and communities affected by this problem.

Implications for College Counselors

In spite of limitations of this research, the findings support the existence of a

significant and negative influencing force of experience with psychological and physical

sibling abuse as a child and one's level of self-esteem and interpersonal competency as a

college student. Given the prevalence and devastating consequences of sibling abuse,

clinicians working in the college and university settings can not avoid addressing the

issue (Snyder et al., 2005; Wiehe, 1990). Working with this population is complex and

requires understanding of the unique implications associated with abuse in sibling

relationships. In order to offer the best treatment possible to those connected with sibling

abuse, mental health professionals must consider appropriate treatment options

(Ammerman & Hersen, 1991; Simonelli et al., 2002).

Individual therapy will vary from case to case. The most critical aspect of

individual therapy when working with perpetrators and survivors of sibling abuse is to

establish trust (Ross, 1996). Establishing trust is particularly difficult with this

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population because of the intense secrecy and shame that is likely to have accompanied

the abuse. The student could believe he or she is abnormal, which will make opening up

in the therapy session difficult.

As a result, mental health professionals must establish

rapport, create a safe environment, and establish collaborative and unique goals for

therapy (Patterson, 1982; Phillips-Green, 2002).

Denov (2003) found one of the most vital elements of establishing a positive

therapeutic outcome is to develop positive professional responses to the client. Positive

professional responses consist of treating the sibling abuse experience as a serious matter,

necessitating acknowledging this form of abuse in the early stages of the therapeutic

process. When positive responses are offered, relief and reassurance are fostered, which

assists with the healing process (Denov, 2003). Social justice, collaboration, non-

judgmental behavior, and compassion are additional vital components to embrace when

creating a positive therapeutic environment for students with sibling abuse history. When

a student engages in therapy with this type of atmosphere, clinicians can help the student

move away from self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors that may be interfering

with improving self-esteem and developing better interpersonal competencies.

As

therapy progresses, the clinician can help the student move towards a focus on self-

development and empowerment (Briere, 1992; Gil, 1996).

In general, treatment with survivors of sibling abuse should include building self-

esteem, developing self-confidence and increasing the ability to develop healthy,

meaningful relationships with others. The survivor must be allowed to experience at his

or her own pace and may need therapeutic assistance to confront the offending sibling as

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well as other family members if so desired (Wiehe, 1998). Survivors often need help

addressing guilt, shame and fear, which can interfere with healthy self-esteem (Caffaro &

Conn-Caffaro, 1998).

To improve one's ability to develop interpersonal competency,

the therapist can work with the student to help identify healthy support networks (Snyder

et al., 2005).

Individual therapy with sibling abuse perpetrators will likely center on issues of

denial and taking responsibility; also factors possibly interfering with the development of

positive self-esteem and interpersonal competency. Most students who have perpetrated

sibling abuse have endured the abuse of someone else; however, it is critical that the

abuse experienced by the perpetrator not be viewed as an excuse for the abuse that he or

she has inflicted on his or her sibling (Rudd & Herzberger, 1999; Wiehe, 1998; Simonelli

et al., 2002). Requiring the perpetrating sibling to take responsibility and acknowledge

what has happened may be an especially difficult challenge, as he or she may have

interpreted messages from parental figures and society as supportive of the abusive

actions (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998; Kiselica & Morrill-Richards, 2007; Simonelli et

al., 2002).

The college counselor should consider family problems when working with

college students, as it is often the case that sibling abuse is connected to issues in the

family (Medalie & Rockwell, 1989). Family therapy can be powerful and prove

beneficial when dealing with this issue, though the therapist has an obligation to ensure

that the family does not blame the survivor for what has happened before commencing

with family interventions (Phillips-Green, 2002). Mental health counselors working with

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families in which sibling maltreatment has occurred have the task of finding a productive

means to address denial both within the family and in society, and explain the impact

societal and family denial of this abuse has on the survivor (Rudd & Herzberger, 1999).

Group therapy is an additional component that has proven beneficial in the case of

sibling sexual abuse, and is likely to prove beneficial for treatment of psychological and

physical sibling abuse as well (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998). Group therapy provides

a sense of commonality and hope for both survivors and perpetrators and may be

particularly beneficial to the college student who feels disconnected from other

relationships (Medalie & Rockwell, 1989; Phillips-Green, 2002; Snyder et al., 2005).

Survivors and offenders should not be combined in one group, but rather each should be

offered a separate group situation in order to minimize the potential for recreation of

abusive dynamics and unequal power differentials.

Groups offered to survivors provide a

sense of connection and support as well as increase a sense of empowerment and self-

esteem (Ammerman & Hersen, 1991). Perpetrator groups provide support as well as an

opportunity for perpetrators to begin taking responsibility for their abusive actions

(Ammerman & Hersen, 1991; Phillips-Green, 2002).

General Considerations

Research

In order to improve treatment approaches and prevention programs for college

students who have experienced sibling abuse, further research must be conducted to

improve understanding of the subject. While the study conducted in this dissertation

serves as a point to build future empirical research on, additional research related to

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prevalence and consequences unique to sibling abuse with college students is desperately

needed to gain a comprehensive understanding of how deeply rooted the problem is.

Study of innovative plans for treatment with perpetrators and survivors will offer mental

health clinicians working on college campuses new options for effectively working with

this population (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998; Phillips-Green, 2002; Wiehe, 1990).

The absence of empirical research on sibling abuse stands in stark contrast to

studies conducted on virtually every other form of abuse. There is a dearth of research

that speaks to the intricacies and unique circumstances related to sibling abuse and the

consequences that linger into adulthood, such as self-esteem and interpersonal

competencies as were investigated in this dissertation (Ammerman & Hersen, 1991;

Phillips-Green, 2002). This study marks an effort to promote and expand much needed

critical research on this topic, with two primary benefits including providing operational

definitions for the study of sibling abuse that may be used in future research, and

providing one of the first empirical studies conducted on how experience with sibling

abuse influences the development of self-esteem and interpersonal competencies. Future

research related to this study will include refining the questions in the sexual abuse scale

and addressing the other limitations presented earlier, which should dramatically improve

the reliability and generalizability of the results. Ongoing similar research to this study

will help identify possible variables influencing the results, as well as provide insight into

the development of an instrument to assess college students experience with this

phenomenon in a meaningful way.

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Research Related to Gender.

As was discussed in the limitations of research section, gender must be included

in future research related to the consequences of experiencing sibling abuse. Male and

female survivors of sibling sexual abuse are at equal risk of being involved in future

criminal activity (Graham-Bermann et al., 1994). Females are significantly more likely

than males to be re-victimized in intimate partner relationships (Harway & O'Neil, 1999).

Males are less likely than females to report being a survivor because of the

embarrassment males experience when seeking help and admitting they have been

abused, especially sexually, by a sibling (Duncan, 1999; Goodwin & Roscoe, 1990).

Male survivors tend to be overlooked in regard to sibling sexual abuse issues, in

particular. The reality that male survivors are less likely to seek help increases the

probability that they will be dismissed by helping professionals and not receive the help

and support that may be needed to regain a sense of well-being (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro,

1998).

The minimal amount of research that has been conducted suggests that gender

does seem to have an impact on the propensity for being a sibling abuse perpetrator.

Leder (1993) found that societal gender expectations and rigid gender roles create an

environment in which males are more competitive and aggressive. In addition, males

report being an offender of sibling abuse far more often than females. Males also may be

physically stronger than their sisters or younger siblings, making abusive activities easier

to engage in (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 1998). While females are less likely to be the

perpetrator of sibling abuse, when they are the perpetrator the level of frequency,

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severity, coercion and violence are often more severe than is typical of most males who

engage in sibling abuse (Steinmetz, 1981).

Research Related to Multicultural issues

There has not been significant study conducted on any form of sibling abuse

across cultures. However, the research that has been conducted indicates important

considerations regarding cultural values and sibling aggression. A study conducted by

Steinmetz (1981) examined sibling violence across five countries (The United States,

Finland, Puerto Rico, Israel, and Canada). The United States scored the highest for level

of physical and verbal aggression among siblings and the lowest for using discussion as a

means of resolution. According to Bellak and Antell (1974), the results of studies

conducted in Germany and Italy indicate that there is a direct link between the level of

aggression deemed acceptable by a culture and the amount of sibling abuse that exists.

Across cultures it has been found that experiencing sibling abuse increases the chance of

becoming involved in abusive relationships throughout life as either the perpetrator or

survivor (Cunradi, Caetano, & Schafer, 2002).

Research Related to Prevention.

This study adds support to the contention that sibling abuse is widespread and has

devastating consequences to critical aspects of well-being. As such, sibling abuse is a

societal concern. Therefore, prevention programs must be developed through

collaboration with other disciplines, other social agencies, and increased ongoing

research. For example, college counselors need to work with counselor educators

conducting research, mental health clinicians in the community, law enforcement

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agencies, family service agencies, and schools to develop and promote effective sibling

abuse awareness programs (Knopp, 1995; Snyder et al., 2005).

Prevention that focuses on sibling relationships early in development will help

professionals and parents avoid the tendency to ignore and/or minimize sibling abuse as

benign sibling rivalry (Abrahams & Hoey, 1994; Wiehe, 1997). Promoting research

related to utilizing the power of sibling socialization can assist in the education and

development of positive sibling relationships in addition to providing parents with

important information about the influence of sibling interactions (Snyder et al, 2005).

Using this study as a stepping stone for stimulating further research and encouraging

awareness will aid in prevention development.

As mentioned throughout this dissertation, a lack of ongoing research about

sibling abuse is a primary reason general understanding of the occurrence is limited.

Haskins (2003) reported that while investigators studying every other form of abuse

continue to receive funding to support their studies, funding for research on sibling abuse

has been reduced steadily since the mid-1980s. This fact accounts for why the few

empirical studies related to sibling abuse that have been done are dated to the early

1980's. In order to gather accurate information pertaining to current trends in sibling

abuse and methods for reducing it, more funding is required. As the research presented

in this study indicates, sibling abuse does have significant implications on long-term

constructs of well-being, and further research must be encouraged, supported and funded

to bring the issue to mainstream clinical focus. In an effort to secure such appropriations,

clinicians concerned with sibling abuse issues should encourage ACA and its affiliates to

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