Study Examines Barriers To Disclosure of Childhood Abuse

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Child Sexual Abuse

Professionals need to cultivate the necessary skills to pick up on cues and difficult-to-discern patterns of behaviour

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Children who don't tell anyone about being sexually abused often come from families that have rigid gender roles and other similar characteristics, says a University of Toronto researcher.

"It is important to identify disclosure barriers so they can be eradicated," says U of T social work professor Ramona Alaggia, author of a study which appears in the April-June 2005 issue of Families in Society. "When children are not able to disclose sexual abuse, the effects are potentially devastating."

In her qualitative study, Alaggia conducted in-depth interviews with 20 adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, then coded the data and identified themes. Four major themes became apparent in talking with the survivors. They generally came from families where gender roles were rigid and the fathers were head of the household, with mothers often having little power in the family. Family violence

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