UNDERSTANDING CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE - AN INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENTAL PERSPECTIVE TO VICTIMIZATION
MARIA DIANA RAMOS DEHN
Ph.D Psychology (March 2011)
Department of Psychology
Child Sexual Abuse is a complicated phenomenon which needs an appropriate model to understand its nature, magnitude and impact. An integrated developmental perspective in understanding this issue was applied based on the Developmental Dimensions Model proposed by Finkelhor and Kendall-Tackett (1997) and the Ecological Approach to Sexual Revictimization hypothesized by Grauerholz (2000). 26 sexually abused children, previously or currently receiving institutional assistance, and a parent or guardian of each child were interviewed in-depth. These interviews and the respective case files form the informational foundation of the study. Using a multiple case study approach, a cross-sectional, non-probability sampling and a basically qualitative method in gathering data was applied. The study concludes that the seeds of vulnerability to CSA lie in the early developmental stage of the child, impacting specific developmental tasks in the process which can affect the functionality of the individual throughout her whole life. Furthermore, the study supports the assumption that complex processes and contexts can be better understood by applying an integrated model as a tool of analysis. This study analyzed, however, only two contextual settings in the ecological approach, namely the individual and the family. Future research can include other contextual factors in the model or focus on other Microsystems affecting the child, e.g. peer groups and the school. The findings of this study are especially interesting for future researches using this approach and or psychologists, social workers and other health providers in the community and beyond.