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La détresse psychologique de la mère et ses besoins d'accompagnement à la suite du dévoilement de l'agression sexuelle de son enfant

Textual materials

KeywordsTriple Keywords
Number concept
Dramatic works
Drama, Modern
Context (Linguistics)
Grammar, Comparative and general--Context
Situation (Linguistics)
Schooling, Home
Education, Home
Home teaching by parents
Domestic education
Home-based education
Home schooling
Home instruction
Home education
Crime--Study and teaching
Aggressiveness (Psychology)
Aggressive behavior
Aggression (Psychology)
Inclusion, Social
Social integration
Social inclusion
Integration, Social
Self (Philosophy)


Child sexual abuse is a prevalent social problem. The ratio of sexual abuse victims who are minor is considerable (Pereda, Guilera, Forns, & Gómez-Benito, 2009) While child sexual abuse has been associated with a number of various consequences in childhood, research also shows that they tend to persist over time. (Tourigny, Gagné, Joly, & Chartrand, 2006, Tourigny, Hébert, Joly, Cyr, & Baril, 2008). In addition to the child victim, parents describe the experience of the child’s sexual abuse disclosure as a massive shock. (Holt, Cohen, Mannarino & Jensen, 2014; Dyb, Holen, Steinberg, Rodriguez & Pynoos, 2003; Manion, McIntyre, Firestone, Ligezinska, Ensom & Wells, 1996). Knowing that the mother plays an important role in the child’s recovery after the disclosure, it is important to take an interest in her reality. The mother’s role in the context of disclosure can be weakened since it is a form of violence to which parents have often been exposed themselves during childhood (Cyr, McDuff & Wright, 1999; Friedrich, 2002) and which is associated with several long-term consequences (Cyr & Payer, 2011, Tyrka, Wyche, Kelly, Price & Carpenter, 2009). To this end, the study’s primary objective is to document the psychological distress experienced by the mothers of child victims of sexual abuse who are under the protection of the Child and Youth Protection Center as well as the challenges that they face in their parenting practices. It consists of four case studies for which data were gathered in a semi-structured interview context. A qualitative data analysis was conducted to assess the influence of the consequences of childhood sexual abuse on the child’s mother. The three goals investigated in this exploratory research are to :1) to document the mothers’ psychological distress following the unveiling of the sexual abuse of their child as well as the factors that influence this distress, such as the mother’s past victimization, the coping strategies used by the mother to go through the crisis and the social support she perceives to have received; 2) to assess the mothers’ needs in terms of support and parenting practices; and 3) to better understand the influence of the mothers’ psychological distress following the disclosure on their parenting practices. The qualitative data gathered through the interviews show the presence of various symptoms of psychological distress and post-traumatic stress disorder among the four mothers. Thus, the disclosure of the sexual abuse of her child is likely to generate some distress in the mother who is recently informed of the disclosure. In the semi-structured interviews, all mothers report having been exposed to some form of violence during childhood. They also describe a diverse use of different coping strategies. In the context of the case studies, it appears that most mothers, despite their level of distress, report using more approach strategies than avoidance strategies. Mother’s descriptions of their parenting practices indicate that they are adequate and not influenced by the distress experienced. Regarding the social support that mothers perceive to have received following the disclosure, the interviews reveal that mothers who receive more positive support from professionals and from their families and who feel able to get the support they need to recover are also more likely to describe themselves as being better equipped to cope with the crisis of the disclosure of their child’s sexual abuse. However, a critical need for support is raised by the mothers of the study. This can be summed up by the presence of a neutral person who can provide them additional and more personalized support, reduce their loneliness and isolation, and increase their capacity to support the child. Two recommendations are to be investigated. An intervention that could be interesting would be to offer a therapeutic intervention to the mother, at the same time and in the same place as the intervention offered to his child, as well as a contact from the disclosure’s moment. The integration of a professional for the mother, belonging to the Child and Youth Protection Center could be an interesting avenue in the DPJ’s intervention. A second recommendation would be to develop a group program offered to mothers following the disclosure. Before any intervention, it is important to remember that to be able to take care of others, we must first be attentive to our needs and take care of ourselves. This principle takes on great importance in the interventions offered to a mother whose child has been a victim.

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