What happens after children tell? a qualitative analysis of narratives of women who as children disclosed intra-familial sexual abuse

McConnell, Sheri M (2015) What happens after children tell? a qualitative analysis of narratives of women who as children disclosed intra-familial sexual abuse. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Contrary to depictions of strangers and perverts lurking in the shadows, most children are sexually abused by “normal” people known to them, often in their own families. The majority of child sexual abuse, especially when it occurs within families, is neither disclosed nor reported. It has been argued that disclosure is a necessary prerequisite for protecting children and ending abuse, as well as for child welfare, criminal, therapeutic, and other individual and societal interventions. Although it opens the door for intervention, disclosure is also a potential source of further trauma and revictimization, depending on the responses to the disclosures. There is a great deal of research addressing the prevention, prevalence and incidence, antecedents, etiology, impact, disclosure, and treatment of child sexual abuse. However, what appears to be lacking in the extant literature are victim’s stories of what happened after they as children disclosed intra-familial sexual abuse. Thus, 16 women living in Saskatchewan, Canada were interviewed about their experiences of disclosing, before age 18, intra-familial child sexual abuse. Employing feminist research methods and a constructivist grounded theory research design, this research explores and describes the process of disclosing, what happened after they disclosed, and how the abuse ended. Two models for understanding disclosing and ending intra-familial child sexual abuse and reactions to the disclosures are presented. The first reflects the factors impacting disclosing and ending abuse and the reactions of families, community members, and professionals. The second envisions optimal conditions for disclosing and ending intra-familial child sexual abuse, and for achieving the desired responses to disclosures. Implicit within the second model are recommendations for change, including implications for professional practice and education. This research is grounded in feminist, constructivist, and social work traditions of witnessing individual subjective experiences and transforming what is learned into individual and social change through social action. In addressing concerns raised through women’s personal narratives, this research aims to increase awareness and understanding among peers, families, formal and informal support systems, and communities about how to respond appropriately, supportively, and helpfully to children’s disclosures of sexual abuse. Further, this research aspires to contribute to prevention, clinical intervention, and child protection practices and policies, with an ultimate goal of ending child sexual abuse.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/8344
Item ID: 8344
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 294-328).
Keywords: child sexual abuse, intra-familial child sexual abuse, disclosing/reporting, barriers to disclosing, facilitating disclosing, reactions/responses to disclosures, contributing factors, implications for professional practice and education, implications for families and communities, ending child sexual abuse, variance over three eras of child abuse awareness, optimal conditions for disclosing and ending child sexual abuse
Department(s): Social Work, School of
Date: May 2015
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Child sexual abuse--Reporting; Sexually abused girls--Psychology; Sexually abused girls--Family relationships; Sexually abused girls--Protection

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