Mothers and child sexual abuse
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThis research is divided into two main parts: a conceptual analysis of the literature on the mother in the drama of child sexual abuse within the family; and an extended description of the personal accounts of 20 mothers, how they perceived and coped with the revelation that their husband had been sexually abusing their child. The mental health and self-concept of these 20 mothers has been compared with that in a community control sample of 44 women of similar age. The analysis of the literature has pointed to the basis of earlier studies, which alleged that mothers colluded and assisted fathers in the abuse, and that daughters either initiated sexual advances or at least were gratified by the sexual relationship. Since 1978, a number of studies have taken a new direction, arguing that fathers are aggressors, exercising power over wives and daughters in traditional, sexist ways. Wives, in this new analysis, rarely knew about the abuse, and do their best to protect daughters when the abuse is revealed. The 20 mothers were drawn from agencies practicing humanistic models of therapy. Subject to the selection biases which may be inherent in the case material, the persona I accounts of the 20 mothers strongly supported the more recent studies. The findings of the survey of mothers, although exploratory, confirm that intrafamilial child sexual abuse does greatly affect the mothers. They undergo profound emotional, cognitive and physical trauma. The majority of these mothers were also unaware of the father/daughter sexually abusive relationship. A few mothers were aware of "something being wrong" in their families, but had not been able to identify what the "something" was. The self-concept and general mental health measures used consisted of the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory, and the Middlesex Hospital Questionnaire. In comparing the mothers and the controls in the two areas interesting results were revealed. The mothers' scores indicated much poorer mental health than the controls; but in comparing the selfesteem scores, both groups had similar levels of self appraisal. The time spent in therapy appeared to have enabled the mothers to develop normal levels of self-esteem, even though they had experienced devastated mental health, as well as suicidal feelings and behaviour, in the immediate past. The mothers, in the families where abuse occurred, married at an earlier age than the controls. The mothers had experienced child sexual abuse more often than the controls; and slightly more mothers had experienced parental separations than the controls. interacted with the revelation of a child's These factors may have sexual abuse in putting additional strains on the mental health of the mothers. As a result of these findings, a number of recommendations for treatment and further research are made.
Bibliography: p. 200-209.
CitationNaspini, O. F. (1987). Mothers and child sexual abuse (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/20296
University of Calgary graduate students retain copyright ownership and moral rights for their thesis. You may use this material in any way that is permitted by the Copyright Act or through licensing that has been assigned to the document. For uses that are not allowable under copyright legislation or licensing, you are required to seek permission.