Domestic Violence Between Siblings

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Sibling abuse is all too common, yet it is rarely spoken about. Many parents refuse to acknowledge when one sibling is abusing another.

Other times, parents do their best to handle the situation themselves. Abuse by one sibling to another can have profound physical and psychological effects on the victim, and it is rare that parents can handle it all on their own. When sibling abuse occurs, parents may need to take drastic steps to protect the victim and get the abuser the help they need.

Additionally, domestic violence between siblings can lead to Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations and criminal charges.

In these situations, parents need to have an experienced domestic violence lawyer by their side. At Breeden Law Office, we are here to help you navigate CPS investigations related to sibling abuse, and we’re prepared to assist your family through any related charges.

To discuss how attorney Jonathan Breeden can help, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970 to schedule a consultation.

Domestic Abuse Can Be Between Siblings

In North Carolina, domestic abuse is defined as certain actions by an individual toward someone they have a personal relationship with.

Personal relationships encompass current and former spouses, current and former romantic partners, current and former household members, the other parent of a child, and relatives. While people often consider domestic abuse as between husbands and wives, or by parents to children, it can also occur between siblings.

Brothers and sisters often tease and occasionally hurt each other. It is not uncommon for one sibling to knock the other down during an argument or to send rubber bands flying each other’s way.

However, there may come a time when it is not roughhousing anymore. When one sibling is intentionally physically, sexually, or psychologically hurting another, or trying to, then parents may face a serious problem.

Domestic abuse occurs when one sibling:

  • Tries or intentionally causes another sibling bodily harm
  • Places the other sibling in fear of serious bodily injury
  • Sexually assaults or abuses another sibling
  • Causes another sibling significant emotional distress through continual harassment
  • Acts in a way that torments, terrorizes, and terrifies another sibling
Can I file domestic violence charges against my sibling in North Carolina?

Signs of Sibling Abuse

It can be difficult for parents to tell when one sibling has crossed the line from normal childhood rivalry to abuse. It is not only a challenge to tell when this has occurred, but parents are often initially in denial that one child would hurt another.

Yet, for the sake of the family and the physical and emotional health of their victimized child, you need to be aware of signs of domestic abuse between siblings.

The victim sibling may:

  • Have inexplicable or poorly explained bruises or markings
  • Act out abuse during play
  • Act in a sexually inappropriate way
  • Change their behavior
  • Withdraw from social interaction
  • Become aggressive or act out
  • Go to great lengths to avoid the other sibling
  • Be overly compliant and withdrawn when interacting with the abusive sibling

The abusive sibling may:

  • Always be the aggressor or play a dominant role
  • Ignore the other sibling’s boundaries despite their discomfort or resistance
  • Hit, kick, tackle, confine, or restrain their sibling
  • Name call, insult, belittle, and otherwise verbally abuse their sibling
  • Sleep in the same bed as their sibling
  • Touch their sibling in a sexually inappropriate way for their age
  • Reward their sibling for sexual contact
  • Be violent toward toys and pets

Domestic Violence Between Siblings Can Impact Custody

If one sibling is abusing another beyond what is normal for children, you face a tough choice. How do you protect the victimized child? How do you punish and help the abusive sibling?

When love and discipline at home are not enough, it may become a child custody issue. Parents who do not live together may choose to divide the siblings, having the abuser and victim live in separate households permanently. However, this may not stop the issue or improve the abusive sibling’s actions.

Sibling Abuse May Lead to a CPS Investigation

Child custody may be affected by a CPS investigation. If CPS receives information that there is abuse going on in the home, they will investigate.

If they find one sibling is harming another, they may remove the abusive sibling from the home, the victimized sibling, or all of the children. During a CPS investigation, you need to work with a lawyer. CPS exists to protect children, and social workers generally want to see families together.

Understanding Sibling Abuse Charges

If one of your children abuses one of their siblings, they could face criminal charges. Depending on the situation, the sibling may face assault and battery charges. If one sibling sexually abused another, the abuser may face charges for taking indecent liberties with a child, sexual battery, a forcible sex offense, or rape.

In many cases, the abusive sibling will go through the juvenile justice system. Children and adolescents between the ages of six and 15 are automatically charged as juveniles.

If the abusive sibling is 20 years or older, they will be charged an adult – though this age will increase by law in 2019. However, if the abusive sibling is at least 13 years old and is accused of committing a violent or sexual felony, then their case may be transferred to the adult court.

If your child is facing juvenile or criminal charges for domestic violence, it is essential that they have legal representation. In both situations, they face serious consequences for their actions, including detention in a youth facility or imprisonment. They could also be required to register as a sex offender, which will have profound implications for their future.

Let a Domestic Violence Lawyer Help

When you realize that one of your children is abusing a sibling, it can difficult to decide what to do. The best first step is to protect the victimized sibling and get them whatever medical care or counseling they need. The next step is to determine whether the abusive sibling’s actions were a crime, or if they necessitate mental health treatment.

Whatever the situation may be, you should contact attorney Jonathan Breeden right away. He will thoroughly review a family’s situation and advise you of your options.

To schedule a consultation, contact Breeden Law Office at (919) 661-4970.

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