Sibling Influences on the Psychosocial Effects of Children's Exposure to Domestic Violence
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Despite the large number of children and siblings who are exposed to domestic violence, relatively few studies have examined sibling influences on the psychosocial effects of exposure to domestic violence. The aim of this study was to explore the opinions of experienced child and family clinicians on whether, and how, the presence of siblings moderates children’s experiences of domestic violence and any subsequent effects on their development and wellbeing. This study employed an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis to analyse interviews with five clinicians. Analysis of the interviews revealed six superordinate themes; one sibling taking on a protective and parental role; polarisation of sibling relationships; factors influencing sibling relationships; the impact on the sibling taking on a parenting or protective role; impact on the sibling being protected; and the importance of individual family context. Overall, the findings from the interviews with the clinicians suggest that in families where children are exposed to domestic violence one child tends to take on a parental role and also attempts to protect their siblings from the violence. These results also emphasise the importance of formulation in understanding the influence of sibling relationships on the psychosocial effects of domestic violence, as there are many different factors which need to be considered. Some implications for clinical practice are discussed and potential future research directions are outlined.
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