Forensic Assessment of Adults Reporting Childhood Sexualized Assault: Risk, Resilience, and Impacts

TitleForensic Assessment of Adults Reporting Childhood Sexualized Assault: Risk, Resilience, and Impacts
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsBarnes, R, Josefowitz, N
JournalPsychological Injury and Law
Date PublishedMarch, 2014

Though childhood sexualized assault (CSA) increases risk for varied psychological difficulties, no single condition, syndrome, or set of difficulties is reliably associated with such experiences. CSA likely disrupts or impairs normal development in complex ways that depend on the risk and resilience factors present before, during, and after CSA. CSA characteristics that increase risk for later difficulties include young age, trauma inflicted by another person, number of occurrences, violence or intrusiveness, betrayal of trust, adverse peri-traumatic reactions, negative reactions from others following disclosure, and a context of previous sexualized assault or maltreatment. Resilience increases with positive self-esteem, better intellectual functioning, good self-control, positive social support, and early therapeutic intervention. CSA is associated with impaired psychological development, mental health disorders, behavioural and relationship difficulties, physical health problems, reduced intellectual function, lower educational achievement, lower occupational attainment, and reduced lifetime income. Any particular difficulty may be problematic in its own right and may also contribute to other difficulties in the interlocking domains of individual abilities and attributes, relationships, and significant life activities. In individual forensic assessment cases, general evidence on CSA risk/resilience and impacts can be used in combination with the lifespan developmental analysis (Barnes & Josefowitz, Psychological Injury and Law, 2014), to determine whether and how CSA contributed to psychological injuries.