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The Traumatic Impact of Child Sexual Abuse: A Conceptualization

Year:
Topic: Child protection, Child sexual exploitation (CSE)
Author: David Finkelhor, Ph.D., and Angela Browne, Ph.D.

A framework is proposed for a more systematic understanding of the effects of child sexual abuse. Four traumagenic dynamics – traumatic sexualization, betrayal, stigmatization, and powerlessness – are identified as the core of the psychological injury inflicted by abuse. These dynamics can be used to make assessments of victimized children and to anticipate problems to which these children may be vulnerable subsequently. Implications for research are also considered.

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