EFFECT OF INTRAFAMILIAL CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE CHARACTERISTICS ON THE SELF-IMAGE OF FEMALE VICTIMS, AGES 8-15
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This study was undertaken with two purposes: 1. to investigate the differences in self-image between girls who are victims of intrafamilial child sexual abuse and a control group of non-abused girls; 2. to examine the within group self-image differences of abused girls by age abuse began, relationship of the offender to the victim, type of sexual activity, use of violence, and mother support. Seventy one girls, 37 abused and 34 non-abused, ages 8 -15, matched on age, race, socioeconomic status and the single or two parent status of the families were administered two standardized measures, one measuring their self-image and another one measuring their perception of mother support. An abuse case information checklist completed by the abused girls' caseworker provided information on the abuse characteristics. Data were analyzed using ANOVAs and Correlational analysis. Five subscales of the self-image measure, body image, emotional tone, psychopathology, family relationships and vocational educational goals were selected as the final outcome variables. Abused girls showed significantly poorer body image and marginally poorer emotional tone and psychopathology compared to non-abused girls. There were no significant interactional effects for age and mother support; however, among the abused girls, there was a significant negative correlation of age with mother support and family relationships, and this correlation was marginally different from the controls. Within group analysis of self-image differences of abused girls showed significantly better self-image on family relationships when the offenders were male relatives other than their biological fathers or stepfathers. Surprisingly, girls who experienced vaginal/ anal penetration showed significantly better self-image on family relationships and body image and marginal differences on psychopathology and emotional tone, compared to those who experienced fondling and kissing. Abused girls who had higher mother support had better self-image in family relationships and vocational educational goals. No difference in self-image was found by age abuse began, duration of abuse and use of violence. Findings, as they relate to and differ from the previous studies are discussed along with the implications of the findings for theory, practice and research.