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Psychological and support characteristics of parents of child sexual abuse victims: Relationship with child functioning and treatment

Poonam Tavkar, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Child sexual abuse continues to be a prevalent and complex problem in today’s society as it poses serious and pervasive mental health risks to child victims and their non-offending parents. A variety of interventions are available, with group therapy considered by some to be the treatment of choice in addressing psychological symptoms, as well as feelings of isolation and stigmatization. The main objectives of this study were (a) to elucidate the psychological symptoms and support needs of parents of child sexual abuse victims as they present to group treatment, (b) to examine changes in psychological symptoms and support needs and their relationship with child functioning over the course of a parallel group treatment, and (c) to examine the impact of these factors on completion of group treatment. ^ Participants in this study included 104 sexually abused youth and their non-offending parent presenting to Project SAFE Group Intervention, a 12-session cognitive-behavioral group treatment for sexually abused children and their non-offending parents. To date, the majority of group treatment outcome studies have utilized only a handful of assessment instruments to assess parent and child characteristics over the course of treatment. This project had a unique advantage of utilizing a variety of demographic, parent-, and child-report measures, allowing for a more comprehensive examination of change in symptomatology and needs over the course of treatment. Several significant findings were noted, including the identification of four distinct clusters of youth at pre-treatment, which were maintained at post-treatment; elevations on the CTQ Sexual Abuse scale; parents of youth sexually abused by a non-family member tended to have significantly higher PSI-Restriction of Role subscale scores; parental expectations of a negative impact on their child was worse for older children; several parent characteristics predicted client treatment retention (e.g., older parents, lower SCL-90-R GSI scores); and an early age of onset of sexual abuse also increased client treatment retention. Future directions and recommendations were discussed, including providing clinicians and researchers with information to aid in the development and refinement of interventions for this specific population and disseminating interventions within Child Advocacy Centers. Lastly, limitations of this dissertation were noted. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Tavkar, Poonam, "Psychological and support characteristics of parents of child sexual abuse victims: Relationship with child functioning and treatment" (2010). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3412274.