Legal disclosure of childhood sexual abuse: what can professionals tell us?

Morrison, Sarah Elizabeth (2016) Legal disclosure of childhood sexual abuse: what can professionals tell us? D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Purpose: This study explores how the decision to disclose Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) to the legal setting for adult victims is perceived by key informants, specifically factors that are believed to facilitate or prevent legal disclosure from occurring.

Background: Prevalence rates of CSA are high (Pereda, Guilera, Forns & Gomez-Benito, 2009) and the negative consequences caused by the abuse acknowledged (Filipas & Ullman, 2006). Disclosure of this crime is understood to be complex and delayed disclosure recognised (Arata, 1998) but little is known about disclosure to the legal system. Rates of legal disclosure of CSA remain low and the attrition rates high (London, Bruck, Ceci & Shuman, 2005), but investigation and understanding of the contributory factors is rare. Disclosure of CSA to the legal system enables prosecution of the abuser and protection of the victim and others.

Method: 10 “key informants” consisting of specialised clinicians working with adult victims of CSA were interviewed. Each informant completed an indepth interview exploring their beliefs about factors that facilitated or prevented adult victims of CSA from disclosing their experience to the legal system. Interviews were transcribed and the qualitative data subjected to Thematic Analysis.

Conclusions: Two super-ordinate themes (Legal Disclosures Are Rare: “Why would they do that?” and The Anomalies: Acknowledging that this is a crime) and four sub-ordinate themes emerged from the analysis and an analytical narrative constructed. Themes emphasised the rarity of legal disclosure and the significant number of barriers adult victims of CSA perceive. Implications for clinical practice and future research are outlined.

Item Type: Thesis (D Clin Psy)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Child sexual abuse, adults, disclosure, reporting, barriers, facilitators, legal system, thematic analysis, qualitative
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Supervisor's Name: Bruce, Dr. Caroline
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Miss Sarah Elizabeth Morrison
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7582
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2016 14:56
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2016 11:52

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