Financial abuse and control of siblings.

Khan, Roxanne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3485-2450 and Brewer, Gayle (2021) Financial abuse and control of siblings. In: The SAGE Handbook of Domestic Violence. SAGE. ISBN 9781526494863

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Sibling relationships can be complicated. So too are the myriad types of sibling abuse that can be inflicted and the motives that underpin them. In the research literature, perhaps one of the most overlooked and poorly understood forms of sibling maltreatment is the financial abuse and control of brothers and sisters. Beyond the romanticized notion of siblinghood, many childhood and adolescent sibling relationships are marred by family caregivers’ acceptance of psychological bullying and normalization of harmful physical conduct. This minimization is reflected more broadly in social and legal contexts, which legitimizes many forms of sibling abuse. In adulthood this, in part, may obscure the financial exploitation of siblings which may be further camouflaged by concurrent, more perceptible, and stigmatized forms of familial maltreatment, such as instances of elder abuse in an effort to secure inheritance. This chapter examines the scant literature in this area to explain the developmental pathway starting in childhood leading to financial abuse and control of siblings in adulthood. This is achieved by drawing from the psychosocial and family aggression literature to explore the ways in which siblinghood across the lifespan can act as a hotbed for hostility and abuse. In doing so, it is established that theoretically, this form of abuse is not at all surprising and can be readily explained by, for example, sociobiological and psychoanalytical perspectives. Respectively, these theories propose that financial abuse and control of siblings are either a core or venal aspect of human nature. The literature identifies key themes related to financial abuse and control of siblings including those resulting from disputes over inheritance, family businesses, and caring for elderly parents. Whether financial exploitation takes form as undue influence, coercive control, or withholding funds, it is often traumatic and disempowering for the abused siblings. This chapter therefore concludes by considering the impact this abuse has on sisters and brothers who are targeted for exploitation but are often the forgotten victims of this form of abuse.

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