Child Sexual Abuse by Danya Glaser

By Danya Glaser

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The issue of family involvement will be discussed in detail in Chapter 3; only a few statistically relevant predictors will be mentioned here. In his analysis of his female student sample data, Finkelhor ( 1984) found the strongest correlate of sexual victimisation to be having a stepfather: this was the situation for 47 per cent of abused girls. To a considerable extent, this represents risk from the stepfather himself; stepfathers were five times more likely to abuse their daughters sexually than were natural fathers.

In addition, as was pointed out earlier, abusers are often quite young, in many cases below 20. It is not even clear that all abusers are sexually frustrated in the sense of having no alternative outlets for expression of their desires: at least some of those who have sexual relations with children are very promiscuous. Variations such as these should promote caution when drawing up any simple classification system for describing abusive men. There have been some attempts to categorise men who abuse children according to behavioural or personality attributes.

These are, first, the sense of fear and isolation produced by the secrecy that characterises sexual abuse; and, second, the confusion which most or all sexually abused children experience, for instance through being confronted by sexual activities whose meaning and purpose they cannot fully, if at all, comprehend, or through the way unpleasant sensations are silently evoked by the actions of loving adults, or through 'naughty' and 'rude' behaviour being perpetrated by trusted adults. The Dimensions of Child Sexual Abuse 25 In summary, although there is considerable variation in the response to sexual abuse shown by different children, there is no doubt that abuse acts as a significant stressor and substantially raises the risk of childhood or later adult psychological difficulties.

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