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Trauma of Child Sexual Abuse: Two Models

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 2 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1987) Pages: 348-366
D Finkelhor
Date Published
19 pages
This article examines two models of the traumatic impact of child sexual abuse, the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) model and the four traumagenic dynamics model.
When applied to sexual abuse PTSD has three major problems: (1) it fails to account for all the symptoms, (2) it does not apply to all victims, and, (3) its explanation for the source of trauma does not fit with many types of sexual abuse. The alternative, four traumagenic dynamics model is more complex and accounts for more of the variety of effects. It posits four dynamics that cause trauma by distorting a child's self-concept, worldview, and affective capacities. These four dynamics -- traumatic sexualization, betrayal, stigmatization, and powerlessness -- are described and matched to specific symptoms that have been noted in the literature. References. (Author abstract modified)