#26 Children should be seen & not heard

According to the Sibling Sexual Abuse Project children are more likely to be sexually abused by their siblings, than by their parents. Yet it remains a hidden & chronically under-estimated form of child sexual abuse.

The lack of recognition that this is child abuse may leave those affected confused, filled with self  blame, shame & doubting themselves for decades.

The fear that speaking out may cause distress to parents & cause family breakup. Those victim-survivors who do feel able to speak out, will often delay this moment until their parents or the abusive sibling has died.

As you read Kathy’s story consider the following questions.

Why do you think this form of sexual abuse continues to be such a taboo?  

How has Kathy coped & processed what happened to her? 

What impact might this have had on Kathy?

Kathy was born in the 1960’s. She was the youngest of 3 children to Nancy & Fred. Kathy wasn’t planned & there was a 7 year age gap between her & her older siblings. 

By the time Kathy reached her 8th birthday, her parents had grown a successful business & were working long hours with early morning starts. During the week, Kathy would be cared for by her older siblings Peter (15) & Carol (16). 

Carol did the majority of tasks in the morning making sure Kathy was ready for school, had her breakfast, bag packed & they would both walk her to school, before heading off to the nearby comprehensive. Peter would collect Kathy from school, so Carol could hang out with her friends. 

Kathy liked this time of day. Peter would walk home with Kathy & if she was good he’d take her to the newsagent on the way home for a penny mix. She loved picking out her favourite sweets, as the lady behind the counter popped them into a square paper bag. 

When they got home Peter would suggest playing mum’s & dads. Which meant going into Peter’s bedroom.

Kathy liked how Peter made her feel special & pretty. 

As the years passed, this game became more frequent & Peter had rules. Kathy started to feel uncomfortable around him, and the game hurt now, but she knew nobody would believe her. If they did they would blame her, afterall she had enjoyed playing mum’s & dad’s when she was little. 

Peter wasn’t kind anymore, he was cruel  & would threaten her if she told anyone. 

This was their secret. 

As they aged, Carol married young & started a family, Peter went travelling & Kathy went away to nursing college, it was one of the few careers where she could affordably live away from home. 

Peter became a successful musician, travelling all over the world. He was charming, admired & his talent celebrated. He appeared on Top of  the Pops many Thursday evenings for years.

Their family mesmerised by his stardom & wealth. They were so proud.

Kathy made sure she always worked the late shift on Thursdays, to avoid the temptation to see him on the TV.

The shame & guilt of what happened between them unbearable. Kathy blaming herself, despite only being 8 when it began, she convinced herself she must have encouraged him. 

If she did see him on screen, she would see his arms draped around young female fans, it petrified her. 

Sometimes she wondered if her memories were real. Had she imagined what he used to do to her? Was it all a bad dream? 

She stayed away from her hometown & avoided her parents. 

She found escape in her hobbies & worked long hours on the children’s ward, putting her energy into her career, committed to keeping the children in her care safe.


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