Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Child Abuse & Neglect (2020)

DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.104193


Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


Background: Many child sexual abuse (CSA) survivors delay or withhold disclosure of their abuse, even when presenting for formal investigation interviews. Objective: This study examined factors that relate to the CSA disclosure process. Participants and Settings: Participants were CSA victims (N = 1,732) presenting to a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) for a forensic interview. Method: We tested a structural model to predict disclosure before and during a forensic interview using secondary data analysis. Results: Youth were less likely to disclose before a forensic interview if they witnessed domestic violence (β = -.233, p < .05). Caregivers were less likely to believe the abuse allegation if the alleged perpetrator resided in the home β = -.386, p < .05) and more likely to believe if the youth made a prior disclosure (β = .286, p < .05). Youth were more likely to disclose during the forensic interview if they were older (β=.388, p < .05), if the alleged perpetrator resided in their home (β=.209, p < .05), if they disclosed prior (β=.254, p < .05), and if their caregiver believed the allegation (β=.213, p < . 05). The alleged perpetrator residing in the youth’s home (β=-0.082, p<.05) and making a prior disclosure (β=0.060, p<.05) were both indirectly associated with forensic interview disclosure through caregiver belief. Conclusions: Findings highlight the importance of the family context and caregiver belief in the disclosure process for youth involved in formal CSA investigations.

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