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NCJ Number: 150594 Find in a Library
Title: Adult Disclosure of Sexual Abuse: A Primary Cause of Psychological Distress?
Journal: Child Abuse and Neglect  Volume:18  Issue:7  Dated:(July 1994)  Pages:549- 555
Author(s): C McNulty; J Wardle
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 7
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This review of research literature relating to adults¦ disclosure of childhood sexual abuse concludes that for some adults, the disclosure of child sexual abuse may be a primary cause of psychological distress, resulting in the dissolution of social support systems and increasing the individual's vulnerability to psychiatric disorder.
Abstract: The analysis noted that adult psychiatric populations have a high incidence of childhood sexual abuse and that some practitioners have noted a worsening of psychiatric symptomatology around the time of disclosure. Disclosure occurs in many ways: in relationships with significant others with no involvement of professionals, to outside agencies as a result of research, and directly to professional agencies during the course of treatment for other problems. Disclosure may occur as a feature of psychological distress or may itself be a primary cause in the development of psychiatric symptoms. Reactions of confidants ranges from comfort and understanding to amusement, disbelief, and anger. Disclosure to professionals such as social workers or police often produces harmful reactions, leading to victims¦ feelings of humiliation and blame. These findings suggest a model in which the act of disclosure to personal or professional support systems is a potentially dysfunctional action for a significant number of people and can increase their vulnerability and current levels of psychological distress. A few people may decline into significant psychiatric symptomatology as a direct consequence of the act of disclosure. This model suggests that counselors should use extreme caution in advising disclosure to significant others outside the context of therapy and also has other implications for therapeutic practice. 25 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Sexual assault victims
Index Term(s): Adult survivors of child sexual abuse; Child Sexual Abuse; Mental disorders; Psychological victimization effects; Sexual assault trauma
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