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Child sexual abuse disclosures: An Irish perspective Rosaleen McElvaney Dublin City University.

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Presentation on theme: "Child sexual abuse disclosures: An Irish perspective Rosaleen McElvaney Dublin City University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Child sexual abuse disclosures: An Irish perspective Rosaleen McElvaney Dublin City University

2 The Irish story  1978 – Child Abuse Guidelines  1979 – establishment of Rape Crisis Centre  1988 – Child sexual abuse assessment centres  The ‘X’ case  1994 – ‘Suffer Little Children’ TV documentary. Fr. Brendan Smyth  1996 – Dear Daughter TV documentary  1998 The Roderick Murphy Inquiry – investigation into swimming authorities  1999 – States of Fear TV documentary  2000 - Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act  2002 Suing the Pope & Cardinal Secrets TV documentaries  2002 – Residential Institutions Redress Act  2005, 2006 – Ferns Report, Archdiocese of Dublin Report, Cloyne Report  2009 Report of the commission to inquire into child abuse in Ireland, 2009  ……

3 Ireland  Population c4.5 million  10% immigrants  “The most catholic country in the world” (Blanchard, 1954, p.17)  93% of Irish respondents who were raised as catholics still claim this affiliation. Although mass attendance has declined (90% once a week in 1973, 62% in 1988, 43% in 2008, Nic Ghiolla Phadraig, 2009)

4 Prevalence csa worldwide  Prevalence rates for penetrative child sexual abuse are higher for girls ranging from 2.9% to 10.5% (Sweden); 3% (UK); 4.9% (Turkey); 5.6% (Ireland); 7.8% (Greenland); and for boys, ranging from 0.6% and 5.5% (Sweden); 1% (UK); 2.7% (Ireland); and 3.2% (Greenland).  Broader definitions of contact sexual abuse range from 10% (UK); 11.3% (Turkey); 13.9% (Sweden); 15.8% (Denmark); 19% (Spain); 20.4% (Ireland); 39.8% (Switzerland) for girls; and for boys ranging 6% (UK); 6.7% (Denmark); 15.2% (Sweden); 15.5% (Spain); 16.2% (Ireland).  (Lalor & McElvaney, 2010)

5 Prevalence in Ireland  SAVI (McGee et al., 2002)  1 in 5 women (20.4%) contact  1 in 10 (10%) non-contact  1 in 6 men (16.2%) contact  1 in 14 (7.4%) non contact  Overall, almost one third of women (30.3%) and a quarter of Irish men (23.6%) reported some level of sexual abuse in childhood in Ireland.

6 Disclosure  Priebe and Svedin (2008)  N= 4,339 adolescents  n=1962 some form of sexual abuse(65% of girls and 23% of boys).  59.5 told no-one  ‘friend of my own age’  6.8% reported to authorities  McGee et al. (2002)  N=3,118 adults  Unwanted sexual experiences under age of 17 years  47% told no one before the survey


8 n=162 129 female 33 male Age 10-17 41% intrafamilial 25% penetrative abuse McElvaney, R. & Lloyd, A. (2014). Informal disclosures of child sexual abuse: A retrospective analysis. ISPCAN European Congress, Dublin.

9 Conceptual Model - Disclosure  Containing the secret  Active withholding  Pressure cooker effect  Confiding  McElvaney, R., Greene, S. & Hogan (2011). Containing the secret of child sexual abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, doi: 10.11/770886260511424503

10 Active withholding C: I tried so many times to tell me Mam to tell me dad like to tell me brother. Like I used to just come in and say ‘Mam I’ve something to tell you’ and then she’d say ‘what?’ an I’d say ‘No it doesn’t matter I’m only messing with you’ …and then I used to even think about telling me old primary school teacher … an then I tried to tell me brother. I remember one day he was coming out of his bedroom an I was like ‘(brother)’ he said ‘what?’ an eh I said ‘ah nothing it doesn’t matter’. He said ‘what’s wrong with you?’ an eh I says ‘Nothing it doesn’t matter’ an like I remember that night like and just crying and crying like and not knowing what to do like ringing (boyfriend) and saying ‘oh I can’t tell anybody I don’t know what to do’. …. R: it sounds like you were really trying so hard C: aw it was unreal R: how long was that going on for that you were actually trying to tell somebody? C: about 2 years (C09).

11 Pressure cooker effect “ I didn’t tell anyone for a good few months and it was killing me” (C20), “I kinda just tried to bury it and it didn’t work cos it kept coming up to the surface every now and again and I’d get angry and cry and I’d run up to my room” (C08).

12 Confiding  “we were talking about our problems… and em we were trying to help her with that. And then like out of nowhere like I just felt like saying it. Cos it was like built up and all of a sudden I just said it” (C08)

13 Containing the secret  Sample of 29 young people  Only family members (n=6)  Schools unaware (n=11)  Siblings unaware (n=2)  Extended family unaware (n=2)  Emotional response to abuse is ‘unmodulated and uncontained’ (Bentovim, 2002)  Self containment as means of self-regulating emotional impact of abuse; containment within relationships

14 To tell or not to tell?  being believed  being asked  shame/self-blame  fears and concerns for self and others  peer influence McElvaney, R. Greene,, & Hogan, D. (2014). To tell or not to tell? Factors influencing young people’s infomal disclosures of child sexual abuse, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29, 5, 928–947 DOI: 10.1177/0886260513506281

15 Current study  Retrospective analysis of children’s files  Potential sample of 1,000  Pilot study (n=39 files)  Gender: 32 females, 7 males  Age: 2-15 at beginning of abuse, 3-17 at time of assessment  40% (n=15) intrafamilial abuse  40% (n=15) penile penetration

16 Content analysis (n=39) Themeno% Feeling distressed2666% Opportunity to tell2359% Fears for self2154% Peer influence1436% Concerns for others 1231% Being believed1128% Shame/guilt1128%

17 Books to read – Irish context  McKay, S. (1998). Sophia’s Story. Dublin:Liffey Press  Travers, O.,(1999). Behind the silhouettes: Exploring the myths of child sexual abuse.  McGee H. et al., 200The SAVI Report: Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland. Fublin: The Liffey Press  The end of innocence: Child sexual abuse in Ireland (Ed., Lalor, K., 2001)  Raftery, M. & O’Sullivan (1996). Suffer the little children. Dublin: New Island  Goode,H. McGee, H. & O’Boyle,C., (2003). Time to listen: Confronting child sexual abuse by catholic clergy in Ireland. Dublin: The Liffey Press.  Kavanagh, J.,J & P & Quinn, M., (2011)Click, click click. Dublin:Hatchette Books   Keenan, M., (2011). Child sexual abuse and the Catholic Church. New York: Oxford University Press

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