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Updated: Jul 11

5WAVES launched in January 2022. It was, and still is, the world’s only comprehensive website devoted specifically to sibling sexual abuse and trauma. Brandy began writing it in 2021, in response to the lack of information she found online when her family needed it most.

Now that the site exists, who is visiting it? What can we learn from who is visiting and what they are clicking? The data below are collected from Google search console and Wix dashboard reports covering the past full year, June 2022-June 2023.

There is demand: 45,830 unique viewers have visited the site in the past year. Visitors are currently averaging nearly 6000 per month.

The need is worldwide: Visits have originated from 168 countries, on every continent.

There is interest in all categories of people affected: Of those visitors who clicked on one of the four main portals for type of person involved:

  • 41% selected the survivors/victims portal,

  • 28% selected the parents portal (including 14% who visited a blog written for parents of adult children),

  • 22% selected the portal for people who have sexually harmed a sibling, and

  • 7% selected the professionals portal.

Site visitors’ top question, overwhelmingly: Where is the Line? What is normal and what’s harmful when it comes to sibling sexual behavior?

  • Sibling Sexual Abuse vs. Normal Curiosity: Where's the Line? is by far the most-visited page on the site, with over ⅓ of site visitors clicking on this page.

  • Of those who find the site through Google, four times as many click on Where’s the Line as the next-most-clicked match.

  • Top Google searches that lead visitors to click on the site include the words normal, inappropriate, experimentation, curious, touching–words that suggest questions, confusion, and possibly guilt about behavior that has happened.

A solid second concern: What Do I Do Now?

Question #3 may be surprising for those who have never asked it themselves: Did This Really Happen to Me?

Concerns about how to manage safety and risk and family relationships form the next tier. This includes pages such as:

What language do visitors use to find the site?

  • “Abuse” is the most-searched term that leads visitors to the site

  • Neutral terms such as “touch” or “behavior” are next

  • Other less commonly searched terms include trauma, incest, molestation, rape, and assault

But–what are even more people searching for?

  • The number of searches that end in clicks on is dwarfed by the number of searches that appear to be seeking sibling porn.

  • Searches for porn far outnumber searches related to abuse.

  • Child exposure to online porn is a leading risk factor for children to sexually harm their siblings or other children.

  • More to come on our next blog post–scroll up to subscribe.

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Updated: Mar 11

Young people who have sexually harmed a sibling also spend time with other children–other siblings, cousins, peers. It may be necessary to stop or limit contact between a child who has caused sexual harm and other children in their life–sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently.

This leads to a difficult question: How should adults explain these precautions to the other children? How does a parent tell a young child that their favorite cousin won’t be coming to visit any more? Or that their own sibling will be moving out of the home?

The best answer for any individual situation will depend on dozens of circumstances: the age of all children involved, the amount of time they have spent together in the past, the severity of the known offense, the type of response that is needed, family dynamics, the child’s individual personality and ways of perceiving the world.

But there are three principles to keep in mind while evaluating any situation:

  1. Protect all children from future harm--physical, emotional, and mental.

  2. Adults are responsible for protecting children from abusive behavior.

  3. It’s always possible to share more information later, but once it is shared, there’s no taking it back.

Adults have the primary responsibility for protecting any children who might be at immediate risk of harm. It is not appropriate to tell children to be wary of another child for their own protection. If children need to be separated or follow a safety plan, an explanation will be needed. But the responsibility for keeping the children separate and/or supervised should always be on the adults.

Adults need to consider what the nonoffending children are ready to hear, based on age and maturity. It's probably not necessary at any age to give sexual specifics. It may not even be necessary to say the harmful behavior was sexual in nature. For example, parents might tell a young child that their sibling or cousin or family friend did something that was dangerous and could hurt other people, so grownups are helping that child to learn how to not do it again, and until then they can't play together. As children grow and mature, parents and other adults can share more information as needed.

Another big consideration is protecting the victim’s privacy, both now and in the future. If other children start treating a child differently, or start asking them questions about what happened, it adds to their burden of trauma and shame and can delay healing. It may seem appropriate to tell others that a very young child was sexually victimized, but the child may feel differently as they grow older.

Protecting the survivor’s privacy could take the form of telling others that the child who was removed hurt someone, without specifying who that “someone” is. It is best to err on the side of telling less, until the child who was harmed has made a mature decision that it’s OK to share their story.

Children are naturally, appropriately curious. They are likely to wonder and imagine what might have happened or what a child might have done. Explaining why children need to be separated or have different rules in place going forward is not a once-and-done task. Parents need to leave the door open for future questions and conversations and take the initiative to check in again.

If adults have decided to share that the harmful behavior was sexual in nature, it is vitally important to provide safe places for a child to go with their curiosity, including future conversations with parents or other trusted adults. (See The Mama Bear Effect’s guidance for talking to children and recommended books for various ages.) If the family does not yet have internet monitoring and filtering set up across all devices, this is the time to add it. (See Defending Young Minds’ guidance on internet safety.), operated by Stop It Now!, is a safe place for teens to ask questions that they are not comfortable sharing with their parents. They also have a list of resources to provide safe, reliable information to teens about sexuality.

Parents and other adults are right to be concerned about the possibility that other children in the family may have already been sexually harmed by the same child or teen. This is an important time to do a body safety check-in, and either review or introduce the concept of body safety, sexual boundaries and consent in an age-appropriate way. (See Darkness to Light’s tips on talking to children about body safety and boundaries, and scroll down this page for Mama Bear's tips on body safety check-ins.) Be sure to keep the door open for future conversations. Most children who have been harmed take time to be ready to tell about it, even to a caring and supportive parent.

It may be best to keep this body safety check-in separate from the explanation of why a sibling, cousin, babysitter or friend will be taking a break from the child’s life. One reason for this is to protect the privacy and safety of the child who caused the harm. Even a child who has caused sexual harm is still a child–a child who needs care and protection, whether adults feel they deserve it or not. In addition, sexually abusive behavior toward children is heartbreakingly common. It is possible that the child has been sexually harmed by someone who is not on their parents’ or caregivers’ radar at all. A general conversation opens the door for a child to disclose and get help for any sexual harm they might have experienced up to that point.

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Updated: Jul 14

In this guest blog, Krysta Lyn Nowlin expresses her raw reality as a mother in the aftermath of sibling sexual abuse. It does contain some graphic details of the effects of sexual abuse on children and families.

So many mixed emotions..

It's like like, how do I know how to feel??

I've took the last 2 years to focus on all my kids feelings mostly, making sure they're okay...

But how do I feel? That's a huge drop bomb question I haven't even acknowledged really...

As a parent, being stuck in the middle of a situation like that, you don't get a chance to acknowledge how you feel. You don't get to decide to pick a side or so easily or quickly make those difficult decisions that you know are going to be the right ones for everyone in the long run...

While I died inside... I stood by the boy everyday who hurt my little girl, and tried to make sure he got every single tool possible to ensure he never did what he did again....

While I died inside I listened week after week to what he'd done to her.....

While I died inside I watched my baby girl clam up in those hard therapy sessions.. not wanting to talk.... not wanting me to leave...

While I died inside, I remember her screaming in the middle of the night from the nightmares and the "monster" in her room...

While I died inside I showed up to every single court date, therapy session, probation visit, court recommended class, and everything else he had to take...

While I died inside I held my little girl in the doctor appointments as we tried to get her UTIs under control... and the exams, and all the medication she had to take just to make a bowel movement.

I died even more than a little inside when I was forced to give my sweet baby enemas bc she just wasn't pooping, and wouldn't let it out.... she would go septic before long if I didn't make her. And all I could see was the fear in her eyes looking at me, while I cried and apologized over and over and over....

While I died inside I did every possible thing I could to insure my other children knew they were loved and important too....

While I died inside I watched my marriage crumble as the stress of all this took over our lives, but we held on by every tiny last straw....

While I died inside I took on all the overwhelming home schooling bc of the fear of my girls leaving me... I took it all on my shoulders....

While I died inside I isolated.... suffering daily... migraines, pain, stress, sadness, depression.....

Not only did I die inside... I wanted to actually die....

Nothing prepares us for pain. Nothing prepares us for grief or trauma.

I have survived... even though I was dying, I found my light...

While I did what I could in the storm, I'm coming out even stronger!

I'm no longer dying, but I'm coming alive and I'm going to live.

I release my son. While I hope he never hurts again, his baggage is no longer mine to carry...

I did all I could do for him... As a mother should. I tried. I did it all. For years it was ME. I may not be his mother by blood but I stood by him through his darkest times.... even when I hated him... I was there and showed up. I never missed a beat. So letting him go, is a big step for me.

My daughter however, she is first. Her safety is first. She is the victim, she is number 1, and the suffering she endured bc of him, I'll never forgive....

So how do I feel.....


Disgusted.... a little...

Hurt... definitely...

But am I healing??

Absolutely! && nobody is going to slow me down! ✨️❤️

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