Stigmatization as a Pathway to Disrupted Self-Development in Sexually Abused Youth Candice Feiring, The College of New Jersey Charles Cleland, National Development & Research Institutes.
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Stigmatization as a Pathway to Disrupted Self-Development inSexually Abused YouthCandice Feiring, The College of New Jersey Charles Cleland, National Development & Research Institutes
Abstract:Youth with a history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are at risk for problems in self-development. Despite empirical support for an association between CSA and problems in self development, the mechanisms through which the phenomena are related are not well understood. Using a within-group longitudinal design, this study examined how abuse-specific stigmatization (shame and self-blame for the abuse) following CSA discovery placed youth at risk for subsequent disrupted self-development. Results from structural equation modeling showed direct and indirect effects of initial stigmatization on subsequent problems in self-development.
Abuse Characteristics: At T1 abuse characteristics were obtained by project staff who reviewed records from child protective services and law enforcement agencies. A checklist was used to record information on such characteristics as the type of abusive acts (e.g., fondling, penetration), identity of the perpetrator and the use of physical force.
Stigmatization: Measures of abuse-specific shame and self-blame developed for this study were used to index stigmatization at T1 and T2.. Examples of items include for shame- “When I think about what happened I want to go away by myself and hide” and for self-blame- “I was not smart enough to keep the abuse from happening.” Both of these measures showed good internal consistency at each assessment (shame α range= .85-.86; self-blame α range= .75-.80). To create stigmatization scores at each assessment point, both the abuse-specific shame and self-blame measures were scored as percentage of maximum possible (POMP; Cohen, Cohen, Aiken, & West, 1999) and then the two scores were averaged. For each assessment point, this yielded a stigmatization score that could range from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating more stigmatization.
General Self-blame Attributions: The Children’s Attributional Style Questionnaire (CASQ, Thompson, Kaslow, Weiss, & Nolen-Hoeksema, 1998) was used to measure general self-blame at T1 and T2 (α = .72 for each time point).
Dissociation and Impaired Self-Reference: The Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI) was used to index these indicators of disrupted self-development at the T3 assessment (Briere, 1995; Briere, Elliott, Harris, & Cottman, 1995). These two measures of self-development were highly correlated (r = .80, p < .001), therefore the T-scores for the dissociation (α = .86) and impaired self-reference scales were used (α = .85) as indicators of a single latent variable - disrupted self-development.
DISRUPTED SELF T3
FIGURE 1. Pathways to Disrupted Self -Development through Stigmatization: SEM Results (numbers are standardized path coefficients)
The indirect pathway from stigmatization at T1 through stigmatization at T2 on Disrupted Self-development was significant (β=.06*, 95% CI= .01-.13).
NOTE: * p < .05, ** p < .01; Pen = Penetration, Force = the use of force during abuse, Stigma = Stigmatization
Direct and indirect effects of stigmatization on the disrupted self-development latent variable, controlling for age, gender, abuse characteristics and general self-blame, were estimated using structural equation modeling (SEM; Kline, 2004).
Missing data were handled by the full information maximum likelihood (FIML; Schafer & Graham, 2002) method in Mplus (Muthén & Muthén, 1998-2007).