Psychosocial Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse 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. 50). “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. 58) 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, children suffering from PTSD exhibited higher rates of both Psychosocial Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse 4 externalizing and internalizing problem behaviors” (McLeer, Deblinger, Atkins, Foa, & Ralphe, 1988 p. 652).
Research also concluded that, “children abused by their fathers were more likely to exhibit PTSD” (McLeer, Deblinger, Atkins, Foa, & Ralphe, 1988 p. 652). For these kids it would be common to have nightmares about past times they had been abused, dissociative attitudes, and increased arousal marked by hyper-vigilance and difficulty sleeping McLeer, Deblinger, Atkins, Foa, & Ralphe, 1988). The reluctancy of remembering or talking about previous or present sexual abuse is understandable. In a study done by Dubner and Motta (1999), children ages 8-19 who had been sexually or physically abused, as well as a control group, were interviewed and asked questions about the duration and nature of their abuse; some questions consisted of: “Did you ever think you might get really hurt while [abusive event] was happening? ”, “Do you sometimes think about [abusive event] when you don’t want to? ” (Dubner, & Motta, 1999, p. 369). nd “Do you sometimes feel jumpy or nervous nowadays for no reason that you can think of? ” (Dubner, & Motta, 1999, p. 369). 64% of the sexually abused group were diagnosed with PTSD. (Dubner, & Motta, 1999) “As expected more girls then boys were diagnosed with PTSD” and “ ages 8-12 years of age (pre-adolescence) exhibited more severe PTSD symptoms then children 13-15 years of age (early adolescence). ” (Dubner, & Motta, 1999, p. 372) It has been hypothesized that more severe sexual abuse, based on Russell’s (1983) criteria, would be associated with greater severity of PTSD, as would duration of abuse. (Dubner, & Motta, 1999, p. 371) Studies have found that women with a history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) have more sexual problems then women with no history of abuse. In particular, promiscuity, hypoactive sexual desire, female orgasmic disorder, Psychosocial Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse 5 and risky sexual behaviors are some of the most prominent difficulties in CSA survivors (Rellini, Ing, & Meston, 2011, p. 3098). A study conducted by Rellini, Ing, & Meston (2011), tested and conclusively deducted that because of previous sexually abusive experiences interest and motivation for sexual stimuli would be inhibited.
Women in this testing group were analyzed using the sexual Satisfaction Scale- Women (SSS-W), “a 30 item questionnaire that measures five separate domains of sexual satisfaction supported by factor analysis” (Rellini, Ing, & Meston, 2011, p. 3102). Domains measured are communication, compatibility, contentment, personal distress, and relational distress (Rellini, Ing, & Meston, 2011, p. 3102). Explicit and implicit cognitive sexual processes were also verified by completing psychophysiological assessments which used sexual videos to activate sexual arousal (Rellini, Ing, & Meston, 2011, p. 103). These tests showed that CSA victims had weaker overall physiological sexual responses (Rellini, Ing, & Meston, 2011, p. 3104). A mixture of these disorders can lead to one detrimental idealogy: that suicide is an answer to ending the crippling emotional pain or stress growing inside. “CSA history is associated with psychiatric disturbance which increase one’s risk for suicide” (Spokas, Wenzel, Stirman, Brown, & Beck, 2009 p. 467) “ CSA may also increase the likelihood of developing negative beliefs associated with suicide. (Spokas, Wenzel, Stirman, Brown, & Beck, 2009 p. 467) “A study done by Spokas, Wenzel, Stirman, Brown, and Beck including men and women of all different ethnicities, marital statuses and a range of ages (from 18-66 years old) resulted in findings that Psychosocial Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse 6 among women, those with a CSA history reported significantly greater suicide ideation, yet were less likely to have a depressive disorder diagnosis than those without a CSA history.
Among men, compared to those without a CSA history, those with a CSA history reported significantly higher hopelessness and suicide ideation, and were significantly more likely to endorse multiple suicide attempts and be diagnosed with PTSD and BPD, although they were less likely to be diagnosed with a depressive disorder (Spokas, Wenzel, Stirman, Brown, & Beck, 2009 p. 468). Tests also found that, “men were more likely then women to have attempted multiple suicides” (Spokas, Wenzel, Stirman, Brown, & Beck, 2009 p. 469).
Participants were evaluated on 2 measures, the first being The Scale for Suicide Ideation; “a 19 item clinician-administered scale used to evaluate the intensity of current attitudes, behaviors, and plans to commit suicide” (Spokas, Wenzel, Stirman, Brown, & Beck, 2009 p. 468). The second being a self-report which required them to answer the question, “Did you ever experience sexual abuse as a child? (Spokas, Wenzel, Stirman, Brown, & Beck, 2009 p. 468). A bold and bluntly phrased question that I assume caused unwanted memories for some and feelings of disgust, shame or embarrassment for others. Analyses included the diagnoses of major depressive disorders, dysythmia, PTSD, and alcohol and drug use disorders” (Spokas, Wenzel, Stirman, Brown, & Beck, 2009 p. 468). Researchers say they still have much to study about this subject in order to draw more final conclusions. In summarization, research overwhelmingly states that the psychosocial effects of CSA are drastic and many. The disorders and conditions caused by CSA effect not only the survivor but future romantic and sexual partners and perception of self image. I’m sure most survivors will struggle with their conditions the rest of their lives questioning why it happened to them.
I Psychosocial Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse 7 can only hope the healing process begins early on continues so they can return to some sense of normality. What I Learned Personally, Interpersonally and Professionally I learned personally that I am not alone. I learned that many people have had experiences similar to mine and how blessed I am that no worse happened to me. I show signs of some of the side effects and I will be strategizing coping mechanisms to change my way of thinking. I learned interpersonally how much power one human has over negatively impacting another humans life.
I also know now that others can benefit by talking to me about my experience and sharing their experience with me, I can be a positive supportive ear to listen and that helps in times of extreme stress. I learned professionally how to correctly explain and identify the facts about PTSD of a sexually abused child to people who may ask me later in my career with children. I also learned how commonly it goes unreported and signs of identify sexually abused children in case I ever need to give an account of a child in my care who is being improperly treated sexually.
How I Plan To Apply What I Learned Personally, Interpersonally and Professionally I plan to apply what I learned personally by adding those who are victims of sexual abuse and the abusers to my prayers. I know with prayer God can perform miracles and heal the hearts of many. I will also pray and ask if this is the correct career path for me to go in; God will make it clear and all the knowledge I’ve gained through my research will be utilized for His glory. If I meet any victims or abusers I know to treat the issues and experiences they choose to share with
Psychosocial Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse 8 me in a respectful manner because they’ve had a hard life and my words can be a reminder of a bad memory or exacerbate a condition caused by the abuse. I plan to apply what I learned interpersonally by talking more openly with others about how many people are sexually abused as children and what we can do to help. I will teach others what I have learned about what triggers negative emotional memories and share with them the different signs of a person suffering with PTSD, sexual disconnects, and suicidal thoughts.
I will become a verbal advocate as well as an open ear to listen to anyone stricken with these horrible circumstances or friends and family of victims; I will refrain from giving advice on the topic because I am no doctor and wouldn’t want to exacerbate any underlying counter productive emotions. I plan to apply what I learned professionally by remembering in my future career that men are more likely to commit suicide then women after experiencing CSA. This will help me and the people I reach out to because I won’t focus more on women then men.
References Dubner, A. E, & Motta, R. W. (1999). Sexually and Physically Abused Foster Care Children and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(3), 367-373. McLeer, S. V. , Deblinger, E. , Atkins, M. S. , Foa, E. B, & Ralphe, D. L. (1988). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Sexually Abused Children. Journal by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 27, 650-654. Polusny, M. A. , Thomas, R. , DiLillo, D, & Walsh, K. (2011).
Pathways From Child Sexual Abuse to Adult Depression: The Role of Parental Socialization of Emotions and Alexithymia. Psychology of Violence, 1(2), 121-135. Rellini, A. H. , Ing, A. , & Meston, C. M. (2011). Implicit and Explicit Cognitive Sexual Processes in Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Journal Of Sexual Medicine, 8(11), 3098-3107. doi:10. 1111/j. 1743-6109. 2011. 02356. x Schreiber, R. , & Lydon, W. J. (1998). Parental Bonding and Current Psychological Functioning Among Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45(3), 358-362.
Spokas, M. , Wenzel, A. , Stirman, S. , Brown, G. K. , & Beck, A. T. (2009). Suicide risk factors and mediators between childhood sexual abuse and suicide ideation among male and female suicide attempters. Journal Of Traumatic Stress, 22(5), 467-470. Psychosocial Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse 12 Vrabel, K. R. , Hoffart, A. , Ro, O. , Martinsen, E. W, & Rosenvinge, J. H. (2010). Co-Occurence of Avoidant Personality Disorder and Child Sexual Abuse Predicts Poor Outcome in Long-Standing Eating Disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 119(3), 623-629.
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