Double Betrayl Theory Essay

2108 words - 9 pages

Since the explosion of sexual abuse literature, beginning in the mid-70s, a specific pattern of sexual abuse has not yet been identified. Child sexual abuse has long been documented to have many potentially deleterious psychological effects including depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and PTSD, as well as social consequences including, externalizing symptoms such as, aggression, delinquent behaviors, sexualized behaviors, adult sexual dysfunction (Browne & Finkelhor, 1986; Spaccarelli & Fuchs, 1997; Swanston et al., 2003;), eating disorders, and borderline personality disorder (Waller & Ruddock, 1993). The severity and duration of the abuse, however, do not seem to be a strong predictor ...view middle of the document...

Looking into the literature, there are many who have also considered the disclosure experience to be a variable related to long-term adjustment of sexual abuse (Bradley & Follingstad, 2001; Briere & Elliot, 1994; Gold, 1997; Kendall-Tachett, Williams, & Finkelhor, 1993; Ullman, 2003). Some researches have identified that a supportive and favourable reaction to disclosure of sexual abuse has been found to be related to positive long term adjustment (Elliott & Carnes, 2001; Finkelhor & Browne, 1988; Gries et al., 2000) and positive short term adjustment (Conte & Scheurman, 1987; Esparaza, 1993; Lovett, 1995; Spaccarelli & Kim, 1995). Therefore, the disclosure experience may be an important factor in determining the psychopathological impact on the victim.
Another possible indicator of symptom severity and comorbidity is the extent to which the victim feels betrayed, with greater amounts of betrayal resulting in greater trauma. Children who have been sexually abused by a trusted adult, someone who is a prominent member of the child’s life, suffer greater degrees of trauma than children who are abused by an adult, who has less significance in their life (CITE). Furthermore, betrayal can come from individuals other than the abuser. As the trauma of sexual abuse does not only come from the abuse experience itself, but also extends into abuse-related experiences, there is possibility of further betrayal from other adults in the child’s life. Abuse-related experiences include the environment of the disclosure and the subsequent events, such as the actions taken to protect the child from the offender. Therefore, the degree to which the child feels betrayal is also dependent on the reactions and actions of those to whom the child has disclosed the abuse event or events. Sadly, the closer the offender is to the child, such as in interfamilial abuse, the less likely that the non-offending adults in the child’s life will act to protect the child (Rudd and Herzberger, 1999; Ferrara, 2002). This can result in a second betrayal, in which the child has not only been betrayed by one adult (the offender) but has also been betrayed by the adult to whom the child goes to for help.
In an effort to explain and understand the complex dynamics of sexual abuse, as well as the associated trauma, many theoretical models have been proposed. Some have attempted to explain child sexual abuse using social and social support perspectives (Barrera, 1986; Cohen & Willis, 1985; Litty, Kowalski, & Minor, 1996; Pattison, 1977) while others added family dynamics to social support (Quamma & Greenberg, 1994; McCubbin & Patterson, 1982; Olson, 1986). Others examined the subject from the point of view of family system theory and marital relationships (Baum, 1989; Frick, Lahey, Loeber, Stouthamer-Loeber, Christ, & Hanson, 1992; Katz & Gottman, 1993; Kerig, 1995) and still others incorporated parental psychopathology into family and marital relationship to examine the causes of sexual...

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