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Authorities fail to recognize emotionally scarred brothers and sisters of child abuse victims
Date:3/5/2008

NORFOLK, Va. In many cases, when abusive parents with multiple children target just one child for emotional or physical cruelty, authorities often remove the abused child from the home and return the non-abused siblings.

But brothers and sisters of abused children can suffer lifelong emotional scars from helping parents conceal the abuse or, in extreme cases, from being forced to participate in torturing their siblings, according to a study published in the current issue of the Journal of Emotional Abuse.

While psychologists have repeatedly studied the lifelong emotional carnage of untreated abuse victims, scant attention has been paid to their siblings, according to author Jane Hollingsworth, a licensed clinical psychologist and executive director of the Child Abuse Program at Childrens Hospital of The Kings Daughters.

Many children survive by becoming callous to the suffering or even torture of their brothers and sisters, Hollingsworth. Those children require therapy, but dont get it.

The article, co-authored by Hollingsworth and Joanne Glass, a child abuse social worker, distills what these clinicians have learned handling hundreds of cases at the hospital's Child Abuse Program.

The King's Daughters program gathers forensic evidence for police and prosecutors in jurisdictions throughout Virginia and also provides counseling to victims.

in dozens of cases throughout their careers, Hollingsworth and Glass have seen parents who focused all their abusive rage on one child, a scapegoat, as they term it.

In chilling anecdotes extrapolated from cases, the study chronicles how parents can force siblings to become either emotionally numb or hostile toward the abuse victim.

The coldness of the calculated torment of children detailed in these case histories is so disturbing that it is easy to overlook the effects on siblings, the study observes.

In one case, Francine (not her real name),
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Contact: Greg Raver-Lampman
Greg.Lampman@SignedCopy.com
757-668-7554
Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters
Source:Eurekalert

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