Sibling Sexual Abuse

Purple Leaf provides advice, guidance, assessment and support services for children and young people who have displayed inappropriate or problematic behaviours towards siblings and to children who have experienced harm, caused harm or both as a result of sibling sexual abuse.

Sibling Sexual Behaviours

There is no universally accepted definition of inappropriate and problematic sexual behaviour towards a sibling or sibling sexual abuse due to the complexities surrounding it (Yates and Allardyce, 2021; Caffaro, 2020).

Yates and Allardyce (2021) describe ‘sibling sexual behaviour’ as the umbrella term that refers to any form of sexual behaviour between siblings.

Not all sibling sexual behaviour may be abusive. Yates and Allardyce (2021) divide sibling sexual behaviours into three broad categories

  • Normative sexual interactions between siblings (that which is within expected developmental norms)
  • Inappropriate or problematic sexual behaviours between siblings (that which falls outside of developmental norms and may cause harm)
  • Sibling Sexual Abuse – behaviour that causes ‘sexual, physical and emotional harm including sexually abusive behaviour which involves violence’

(Yates and Allardyce, 2021)


Purple Leaf is part of a national project to support victims and survivors of recent and historic sibling sexual abuse.  This project was led by Rape Crisis England & Wales (RCEW), in partnership with two universities and two rape crisis centres.   The two-year project is the largest Government funded piece of work on sibling sexual abuse to date in the UK. It is also the first England and Wales wide project on sibling sexual abuse. It is funded by the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice and will conclude in March 2022.

Purple leaf, in collaboration with the Dr Sophie King – Hill, University of Birmingham , led on the child and young person aspects of the project.

Development of an Assessment Tool

A specific assessment tool has been developed which enables professionals to:

  1. Identify whether a child or young person(CYP) is a survivor of sibling sexual abuse(SSA); has experienced sexually inappropriate or problematic behaviour from a sibling or/and behaved towards a sibling in a way that is sexually inappropriate or problematic; or have exhibited sexually abusive behaviours towards another sibling.
  2. Have support in their approach to risk management, support, and intervention with the CYP.
  3. Identify any additional needs or support for the wider family of the CYP and refer them to the appropriate agency.
  4. Identify and escalate any safeguarding concerns.

How we can support

Purple Leaf can offer:

  1. Advice and guidance
  2. Information for professionals, carers and children and young people
  3. Assessment for children and young people
  4. Good practice guidance and training regarding sibling sexual abuse.

For further information please follow the links to the downloadable leaflets below, get in touch or make a referral.

Purple Leaf is Trading name of West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (WMRSASC)

WMRSASC is a charitable company limited by guarantee in England & Wales - Charity Registration 1136677, Company Registration 07083844.

Registered office: Kendall Wadley Chartered Accountants, 71 Graham Road, Malvern, WR14 2JS (not part of WMRSASC premises)