Childhood sexual abuse is a subject that is not researched very deeply. One issue is traumatizing the victims even more by studying them on a long-term base. There are questions that researchers want to answer but designing the right study to achieve the answers is sensitive work. One such question is “Are victims of childhood sexual abuse more likely to engage in sexual activity at earlier ages than non-abused”?
Research is lacking in the area of childhood sexuality and without this research psychologists are unable to adequately study the negative effects of sexual abuse of children. I will conduct a developmental study using the sequential design in order to answer the question: Are victims of childhood sexual abuse more likely to engage in sexual activity at earlier ages than non-abused? I am conducting this study to gain a greater understanding of how violation of trust and body may or may not cause a child to engage in sexual activity at an earlier age than non-abused children. The available literature on childhood sexual abuse is insufficient on many levels and lack adequate methodologies for approaching treatment or study of victims of childhood sexual abuse.
Research Proposal: Are Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse More Likely to Engage in Sexual Activity at Earlier Ages than Non-Abused Introduction Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a subject that is not researched very deeply. One issue is traumatizing the victims even more by studying them on a long-term base. There are questions that researchers want to answer but designing the right study to achieve the answers is sensitive work. One such question is “Are victims of childhood sexual abuse more likely to engage in sexual activity at earlier ages than non-abused”? Research is lacking in the area of childhood sexuality and without this research psychologists are unable to adequately study the negative effects of sexual abuse of children.
When someone you trust or even someone you do not know takes something from you is devastating to say the least. When that something is an experience you do not understand and have not experienced under normal circumstances the devastation is unimaginable. When an adult or older person violates a child in a sexual manner it introduces feelings that the child is not ready to have, and it causes confusion in the child; this is known as traumatic sexualization.
Traumatic sexualization refers to an evolvement in which a child’s sexuality is formed in a developmentally improper and interpersonally dysfunctional ways. Human sexuality develops in stages and if forced to experience a stage before the body is ready it will hinder the body’s ability to cope. Sex and sexually explicit behaviors are not intended in childhood. Humans do not enter puberty until adolescence and still are not sure how to cope with the feeling, but if molested or raped before ever experiencing any of the feelings naturally the children may never be able to know what they truly feel in regard to sex.
Every survivor copes with sexual abuse in different ways. Some may become promiscuous, exhibit sexualized behaviors, and some become abuser themselves. This study’s focus is promiscuity. CSA has a variety of definitions including but not limited to: attempted intercourse, oral genital contact, fondling of genitals directly or through clothing, and exhibitionism or exposing children to adult sexual activity or pornography. For the purpose of this research the following is the definition; CSA is the involvement of a child in sexual activity above the child’s cognitive developmental understanding and above the child’s developmental maturity. As a coping mechanism some sexual abuse survivors may become sexually active with multiple partners.
Promiscuity is not a coping mechanism that any therapist would recommend to a survivor, but it is one path some survivors take. Research has shown a correlation between the severity of the abuse and the number of partners a survivor will have. A number of factors determine the severity of the abuse encompassing the relationship between victim and perpetrator, whether or not there is physical force or threats, whether penetration takes place, and the number of occurrences. My step-grandfather raped me at the age of nine. He told me that if I struggled or refused he would just go to my three-year-old sister because she would not be able to refuse. I would cringe when his bath water started to run because I knew what was coming. He would force me to perform oral sex on him until he climaxed and I had to swallow it he would then penetrate me. I spit it at him once, but by the time that night was over I knew to never do that again. He was extremely violent when penetrating me that night.
I could not wear shorts for a week because the bruises would show. Anytime we were alone he would touch me and make me touch him. As the summer continued his boldness progress to the point that he would fondle me under a blanket on the couch while, watching movies with my grandmother and little sister. As I grew he would try to be alone with me but I knew what he wanted, and would not be alone with him. Over the years he did molest me a handful of times but that summer was the only time there was penetration. I tried blocking the summer out but that only made it worse for me so I decided to make sex meaningless because up to the time he ripped it from me I thought it was special and only for marriage.
I cannot say that had this not happened I would not have become sexually active but I truly believed in waiting. A year after having the option ripped from me and trying to hide the pain I broke down and started having sex with friends interested in sex. By the time I was 16 the number of partners I had been with was 6. I always wondered if I used another coping mechanism would I still have such a high number. I have been with my husband for 20 years and have just begun to truly feel the intimate connection I should have felt from the beginning. I am conducting this study to gain a greater understanding of how violation of trust and body may or may not cause a child to engage in sexual activity at an earlier age than non-abused children. The available literature on childhood sexual abuse is insufficient on many levels and lack adequate methodologies for approaching treatment or study of victims of childhood sexual abuse. Review of the Literature
Over the past years CSA has received much public attention however, majority of research has focused on the victims as children; comparatively little work has been published on the long term consequences. CSA researchers are faced with a number of challenges. The definition of CSA is a reason to why there is lack of research. As there is no universal definition researcher’s definitions can differ, and as a result depending on the definition used in the study findings can vary. The lack of research in the effects of CSA is also due to the difficulties in establishing casual connections between the abuse and the later affects years after the abuse. Effects found in survivors are not always exclusive to the childhood sexual abuse and may reflect other underlying issues.
Conducting studies in sensitive areas such as CSA has proven to be difficult; therefore research in such fields may be limited. A study conducted on the ethical issues in research on sensitive topics noted that, participants who had experienced child abuse were more likely to report distress after participating in research, due to remembering the past.
However, researchers also found that these participants were more likely to report that participation was helpful. Another difficulty in assessing the effects of childhood sexual abuse is that through the repression of the trauma, or dissociation, survivors of such abuse may possibly not consciously remember the abuse experience. Therefore findings gathered from research could be effected, interfering with the validly and reliability of the study. Research has documented that CSA survivors are more prone to suffer from social, emotional and behavioral problems than non survivors; difficulties include, however are not limited to, anxiety, depression, guilt, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, self-destructive behaviors, lowered self-esteem, and promiscuity.
According to research evidence, early sexual experiences often have an influence on later sexual behavior. When initial sexual experience is abusive, it could elicit explicit effects on ensuing sexual behaviors. Research has found that survivors of CSA engage in risky sexual behavior at higher rates than individuals who have not experienced such abuse.
A number of studies furthered Costas and Landreth’s findings and reported that risky sexual behavior in adults previously abused was exhibited in many forms; having many sexual partners, failing to use condoms during intercourse increasing the risk of sexually transmitted infections and having anal sex. Meston and Lorenz provided an explanation as to why some adults with a history of CSA may participate in risky sexual behavior. Sexual abuse could result in the abused to disregard their own humanity therefore, perform sexual acts in a more promiscuous way. A survivor’s childhood experience could cause him or her to be incapable of separating sex from affection, which then leads to promiscuity or impaired arousal. Sexual promiscuity was a way for me to take control of my feelings and be able to keep the abuse from totally consuming me. Method
Population, Procedure, Instruments, and Data Analysis I will conduct a developmental study using the sequential design in order to answer the question: Are victims of childhood sexual abuse more likely to engage in sexual activity at earlier ages than non-abused? The study would need to have 50 participants (25 male, 25 female) in the 10-15 age group during the first phase. The same 50 would come back in 10 years, and one last time in another 10 years. During each phase the participants will fill out the same questionnaire and the collected data will be analyzed. After the final phase each participant’s results will be reviewed for changes. The collected data will be compared among the varying age groups as well as for individual changes each decade. Discussion
I am conducting this study to gain a greater understanding of how violation of trust and body may or may not cause a child to engage in sexual activity at an earlier age than non-abused children. The available literature on childhood sexual abuse is insufficient on many levels and lack adequate methodologies for approaching treatment or study of victims of childhood sexual abuse. The data collected will hopefully answer this question and proved helpful information on how to cope with this specific effect of CSA. As a survivor of CSA, I know promiscuity was my coping strategy, but wish that I had chosen a safer strategy. With more knowledge and a better understanding of how to help CSA survivors; therapists may save future survivors from engaging in promiscuous behavior.
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