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Quicker Disclosure of Abuse Improves Outcomes

A new collaborative study finds that half of sexual abuse survivors wait up to five years before disclosing they were victimized.

Although the inaction is understandable, the behavior is detrimental as immediate counseling and care lessens the pain and facilitates recovery.

Researchers from the Université de Montréal, the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université de Sherbrooke publish their report in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

“The number of victims who never reveal their secret or who wait many years to do so is very high,” says co-author Mireille Cyr, a psychology professor of the Université de Montréal.

“This is regrettable because the longer they wait to reveal the abuse, the harder and more enduring the consequences will be.”

The research team surveyed 800 Quebec men and women and found 25 percent of respondents never divulged being sexually abused as children.

The scientists also found a sharp contrast between genders: 16 percent of women remain quiet about abuse, while 34 percent of men never share their secret.

The investigation found that 22 percent of women and 10 percent of men reported beings survivors of abuse, which ranged from molestation to rape, which is comparable to the findings of previous studies on the topic.

The psychological distress of victims includes anxiety, depression, troubles concentrating and irritability. Certain victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, some relive the abuse psychologically while others have dulled emotions or become hyper-vigilant.

The data suggests that victims are more likely to denounce their abuser when he or she is a stranger. Unfortunately, in most cases, serious abuse such as rape is committed by friends or family members. This is true in 85 percent of cases for female victims and 89 percent for male victims.

Professor Isabelle Daigneault, of the Université de Montréal Department of Psychology, conducted a separate study correlating the likelihood of young victims to become adult victims of sexual or physical abuse.

Published in The International Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect, her sample examined 9,170 women and 7,823 men throughout Canada. Her conclusions are startling: female survivors of childhood sexual abuse are three to four times likely to be victims of physical or sexual abuse as adults.

“It’s the first time that we combine data on sexual abuse during childhood and eventual relationship problems,” says Daigneault.

Male survivors of childhood sexual abuse are three times more likely to be victims of physical abuse as men. However, too few men reported sexual abuse as adults to establish a statistically significant correlation.

Source: University of Montreal

Quicker Disclosure of Abuse Improves Outcomes

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Quicker Disclosure of Abuse Improves Outcomes. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 26, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/01/20/quicker-disclosure-of-abuse-improves-outcomes/10855.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 5 Jul 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Jul 2016
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