Running Head: PSYCHOSOCIAL EFFECTS OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE
The Psychosocial Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse Amanda Mumford Professor Oler PSYC 1A Introduction to Psychology, M, W 12:50-2:10 p.m. Gavilan College April 1, 2013
Psychosocial Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse 2 Why I Chose to Write on My Topic I chose to write on my topic because of the rising rates of children and preteens being sexually abused. Previously oblivious to the many kids traumatically effected by these events I began watching the show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and became interested in the crippling disorders afflicting the children that had been victims of sexual abuse. I related with them and thought if I could learn more about them I had hopes of learning more about myself. In my adolescent years I had an unwanted sexual experience that changed my life and as I struggled silently in denial, if others had recognized symptoms of a person struggling with such experiences, I might have received outside help sooner or learned how to deal more effectively with the pain and side effects I was feeling. TV shows may not always accurately depict symptoms, circumstances, or solutions surrounding childhood sexual abuse, but this is what originally helped spark my curiosity and interest in the subject. After much soul searching and prayer I am considering working with abused children as a career option. I pray, God willing, to be this outside help for a struggling someone one day and to educate those around me about childhood sexual abuse. If I educate myself on the topic I can help teach others around me about the signs and symptoms and most importantly, spread awareness. The more I know the more I can share, and the more potential everyone has to help these suffering children. What better way to get started then to write my first college research paper on this special topic. What the Research Says About My Topic Childhood sexual abuse takes place daily, all over the world. The negative emotional effects are immediate and long-term but often last a lifetime (Polusny, Thomas, DiLillo, &
Psychosocial Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse 3 Walsh, 2011). “CSA is defined as any involuntary, repetitive sexual experiences with an adult (not necessarily a parent or relative) that occurred before the age of 16 years.” (Spokas, Wenzel, Stirman, Brown, & Beck, 2009, p.265). Studies continue to be done to prove that CSA causes impairment in the cognition and emotional processing. “Between 150,00 and 200,000 new cases of CSA are reported each year.” (McLeer, Deblinger, Atkins, Foa, & Ralphe, 1988, p.650). “Because children tend to underreport their sexual abuse and encounter difficulties in verbalizing their thoughts and feelings, the process of diagnosing sexual abuse is problematic” (Dubner, & Motta, 1999, p.371). therefore meaning that case numbers are most likely even higher. Along with this growing concern is the recognition of the often serious and damaging psychological sequelae associated with childhood sexual abuse including, depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, low-self esteem suicidal behavior, substance abuse, sexual disfunction, and personality disorders (Schreiber, R., & Lydon, W. J. 1998 p.358) Research shows that the condition that afflicts the majority of survivors is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, followed by depression, and even suicide. (McLeer, Deblinger, Atkins, Foa, & Ralphe, 1988). By interviewing children and their guardians and scoring them according to a PTSD symptom checklist based upon a DSM-III-R criteria for PTSD model (which included wether or not three behaviors were present or absent 1. re-experiencing behaviors, 2. avoidant behaviors, and 3. autonomic hyper-arousal, results found that out of 31 children who had all been sexually abused at least once, 48.4% of them met the criteria for PTSD. (McLeer, Deblinger, Atkins, Foa, & Ralphe, 1988). “As expected,...