Psychology, Department of


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Theimer, K., & Hansen, D. J. (2018). Child sexual abuse: Stigmatization of victims and suggestions for clinicians. the Behavior Therapist, 41, 213-219.


(c) 2018 Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies


CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE (CSA) occurs frequently, with one recent review suggesting that approximately 1 in 10 children will experience sexual abuse before age 18 (Townsend&Rheingold, 2013). Victims of CSA are at risk for developing a range of psychological and behavioral problems, including depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal thoughts and behavior, substance abuse, high-risk and inappropriate sexual behavior, and other conduct problems (Maniglio, 2009; Tyler, 2002). However, not all children experience these short- and long-term effects and many factors influence the heterogeneity of response to CSA (Kendall-Tackett, Williams, & Finkelhor, 1993; Putnam, 2003). Stigma, defined as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2017), can play an important role in victims’ recovery (Coffey, Leitenberg, Henning, Turner, & Bennett, 1996).As such, the purpose of this paper is to critically review the literature on how survivors of CSA are currently stigmatized, identify the consequences of such stigma, and make suggestions for clinicians working with CSA victims and their families.

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