Non-offending parents as secondary victims of child sexual assault

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 500
7 March 2016

Explores the impact of child sexual assault on a sample of 26 non-offending parents, with a particular focus on examining the link between a parent’s thoughts and feelings about the assault and their subsequent support of, and assistance to, the primary victim.

Foreword
Informal support systems play an important role in assisting primary victims cope with their experience post-crime. The experience of primary victims can have a vicarious impact on the individuals who comprise these support systems. This research explores the impact of child sexual assault on a sample of 26 non-offending parents, with a particular focus on examining the link between a parent’s thoughts and feelings about the assault and their subsequent support of, and assistance to, the primary victim. The results of the qualitative analysis show parents experienced a wide range of negative emotional responses to their child’s victimisation, and these reactions may have influenced what support the parent was able to provide. In particular, parents reported feelings of anger, sadness and guilt; they became overprotective and isolated from their children, partners, family, friends and community. The implications of these findings for the treatment and support of parents of victims of child sexual assault are also discussed.

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Suggested Citation

Georgina Fuller, 2016, Non-offending parents as secondary victims of child sexual assault, Australian Institute of Criminology, viewed 04 December 2016, <http://apo.org.au/node/62096>.

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