Family Learning Program (FLP)

Family Learning Program (FLP)

Siblings

Siblings, like all other family members, are also affected by sexual abuse. A sibling may have lost contact with a beloved family member due to the abuse, or may be impacted by the reactions of the non-offending caregivers and the victims. Additionally, the siblings of child sexual abuse victims are at an increased risk for victimization themselves. Therefore, the sibling groups at FLP are geared toward abuse prevention by focusing on:

1. Psychoeducation

Teaching siblings about sexual abuse is an important step in preventing victimization. Siblings are taught to recognize abuse by identifying "good touches" and "bad touches," recognizing their boundaries and the people in their lives who do and do not fit within those boundaries, and learning to identify their feelings so that they can tell apropriately someone when they feel scared or uncomfortable, 

2. Sharing

Allowing children to share their experiences of having a sibling who has been sexually abused and how they have been affected can help them overcome the trauma of sexual abuse in the family. Children in the sibling group have a unique experience of the abuse the has affected their families. In group, they are able to process and talk about their experience with others who have been in similar situations.

3. Safety

Siblings learn skills focused on keeping themselves safe by avoiding dangerous situations, keeping their bodies safe by learning to avoid or confront inappropriate sexual advances or touches by others, and understanding the importance of telling a trusted adult if they ever find themselves in situations in which they feel uncomfortable.

Toward the end of their time at FLP, siblings will complete a social story with their therapist. Their social story will give them the opportunity to discuss how their lives have changed as a result of the abuse that occurred in their family. Siblings at FLP have completed social stories in the form of written stories, picture books, or even using the sand tray. The social story allows siblings to tell their own story, discuss some of the major impacts that the abuse has had on their lives, and share their thoughts and feelings about it, all in a safe and supportive environment. Sibling clients will not be asked to begin a social story until the therapist believes they are ready to have such a discussion. Typically, once the social story is complete, it is shared with a trusted family member or therapist, followed by a graduation ceremony to celebrate this big accomplishment.