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Journal of Child Sexual Abuse
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Sexual Abuse Histories of Young Women in the U.S.
Child Welfare System: A Focus on Trauma-Related
Beliefs and Resilience
Angela L. Breno & M. Paz Galupo PhD
Published online: 11 Oct 2008.

To cite this article: Angela L. Breno & M. Paz Galupo PhD (2007): Sexual Abuse Histories of Young Women in the U.S. Child
Welfare System: A Focus on Trauma-Related Beliefs and Resilience, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 16:2, 97-113
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Submitted for publication 3/15/2006. Paz Galupo. In particular. 16(2) 2007 Available online at http://jcsa. self-blame. Inc.com> © 2007 by The Haworth Press.] KEYWORDS. Sexual abuse. foster care. E-mail address: <docdelivery@ haworthpress. Paz Galupo ABSTRACT. powerlessness. doi:10.HaworthPress. Powerlessness was found to make a significant contribution to resiliency scores above and beyond foster care and abuse demographics. TRB scores were negatively correlated with resilience and positively correlated with number of sexual abusers. this research would not have been possible. without the support of Eileen McCaffrey and Tina Raheem. Vol. Trauma-related beliefs (TRB) subsequent to sexual abuse varied depending upon where sexual abuse occurred. This research provides descriptive data regarding sexual abuse histories of high-functioning women (N = 84. Child Welfare System: A Focus on Trauma-Related Beliefs and Resilience Angela L.S. Inc. Towson. Breno M. MD 21252. All rights reserved.com> Website: <http://www. resilience Address correspondence to: M.Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 Sexual Abuse Histories of Young Women in the U.1300/J070v16n02_06 97 . PhD. trauma-related beliefs. Placement histories of foster youth who were sexually abused were distinct. 18-25 years old) previously in the child welfare system.com © 2007 by The Haworth Press. doi:10.haworthpress.1300/J070v16n02_06 [Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-HAWORTH. Towson University. The author would like to thank the Orphan Foundation of America for their partnership in this research. All rights reserved. 8000 York Road. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. Girls with a history of sexual abuse were more likely to have been in restrictive housing and changed placements twice as often as girls with no history of sexual abuse. accepted 11/18/2006.

The rate of substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse in foster care is higher than that of physical abuse (Benedict. 1991). A different pattern emerges. & Westerfelt. However. 1994). Negative Outcomes for Former Foster Youth: A Focus on Sexual Abuse Histories Information regarding potential negative outcomes of former foster youth can be indirectly gleaned from research on at-risk populations where former foster youth are disproportionately over-represented.. linking a history of sexual abuse to negative outcomes for foster youth. 2000). Research directly addressing sexual abuse occurring in the child welfare system is limited (Benedict et al. Sosin. Roman and Wolfe (1995) include concerns regarding the way in which physical and sexual abuse . physical abuse is twice as likely to occur as sexual abuse (U. Former foster youth are highly visible within the homeless population (Zugazaga. In addition. 1999). & Brandt.S. girls are at increased risk for sexual abuse within child welfare system (Benedict et al. where it is estimated that between 9 and 38% of homeless people were in foster care as children (Piliavin. A common thread throughout this literature base is the occurrence of sexual abuse in the foster care population. Department of Health and Human Services.Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 98 JOURNAL OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE Although the foster care system is designed to provide safety for children. Edmondson. 1996). Matsueda. while there are no significant sex differences for physical abuse or neglect. Zuravin. Roman & Wolfe. when considering abuse within the family foster care system. Somerfield. children and youth are placed at increased risk for abuse (Benedict. 2004). 1996. however. In their explanation for the close connection between foster care and homelessness. & Groze. Dubner & Motta. upon entering the system. 2003).. In a study on the stressful life events of homeless adults. Brandt. 1990. 1995). Motz. a study of death row inmates in California investigating precursors of lethal violence found that 81% of the cases included men who were severely physically and/or sexually abused while residing in the foster care system or under state youth authority jurisdiction (Freedman & Hemenway. 2004). Zuravin. 1996. research on other at-risk populations has indirectly revealed important outcome considerations for youth who were previously part of the child welfare system. & Abbey. For example. Within the general population. it was found that homeless women who had children were likely to have been in foster care compared to homeless women without children and homeless men (Zugazaga. Rosenthal.

& Ericksen. Gorkoff. Lehner. (2) foster youth may experience further abuse within the system and are at an increased risk for sexual .Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 Angela L. Elze. Furthermore. and how these are related to the short and long-term psychological impact of abuse. Openshaw. as well as concerns regarding abuse that is perpetrated by foster care providers themselves. In a study on the demographic and parental correlates of young sexual offenders. Research has focused largely on how placement experiences differ between individuals with. and without. Downe. Tutty. 1996). & Ursel. McMillen. This complexity is compounded in abuse cases within the child welfare system given that (1) many children enter the system because of abuse in their families of origin. a history of sexual abuse has been shown to relate to specific experiences within the foster care system for girls (Benedict et al.. it highlights the important issue of sexual abuse within the foster care system. girls with a history of sexual abuse averaged twice as many congregate placements compared to girls with no history of abuse. In addition. it was found that the majority of pedophilic youth were living in foster care (Graves. and Thompson (2002) found that sexually abused girls and teens are more likely than their non-abused counterparts to live in a group home or residential treatment center setting. In addition. and West (2003) found that children living in congregate care settings were at the highest risk for readmission to psychiatric hospitals. Psychological Correlates of Sexual Abuse Within the Foster Care System The psychological implications for victims of sexual abuse are complex. It is clear that more research is needed to better understand the abuse experiences of foster youth. Breno and M. Lyons. Edmond. 2002). Relation Between Girls’ Sexual Abuse Histories and Experiences Within the Foster Care System While the research on sexual abuse in foster youth is limited. Although this research literature focuses almost exclusively on negative outcomes or “problem” populations. These women report a high prevalence of sexual abuse usually by a family member or by caretakers while in foster care. When examining the lives of women prostitutes. a history of sexual abuse. Ascione. Romansky. 1996). Paz Galupo 99 are addressed within the foster care system. former foster youth again emerge (Nixon. their experiences in the child welfare system. Auslander. foster youth surface when investigating the population of sexual offenders.

(3) powerlessness.. While this research explores the psychological consequences of abuse within the foster care population. Understanding factors influencing TRB within this population. Although the research on the relation between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sexual abuse in the general population has yielded mixed results. A focus on girls’ experiences in this case is appropriate given that girls are at greater risk for sexual abuse within the foster care system (Benedict et al.. Previous research has considered the psychological consequences of sexual abuse in foster youth.g. In addition. Finkelhor and Browne’s (1986) model of the traumagenic dynamic suggests that changes in beliefs subsequent to sexual abuse contribute to psychological and behavioral problems in adulthood. however. is related to maladaptive behaviors and/or symptomatology (Conte & Scherman. PTSD was prevalent in both sexually and physically abused children and adolescents. & Kassem. Overview of the Current Study The purpose of the current study was two-fold. Dubner and Motta (1999) found that within the foster care population. Gould. Celano. 1995. it does so by focusing on strict criterion for symptoms of a diagnosable disorder. Trauma-related beliefs (TRB) related to sexual abuse. research is needed to understand abusive experiences of foster youth without emphasizing “problem” populations. These changes in cognitive and affective orientations occur across four dimensions: (1) self-blame/stigmatization. Hazzard. First. . represents an important area for future research. Lawry. Research including high-functioning populations is critical in identifying positive factors and outcomes associated with foster care experiences. then. 1996) and because girls make up the majority of the high-functioning population from which this sample is drawn (e. 1992). and (4) traumatic sexualization.Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 100 JOURNAL OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE abuse. Martone. Investigating the experiences of high-functioning youth who have successfully transitioned out of foster care is of particular interest and would provide a balance to previous research. & Webb. (2) betrayal. Shapiro. former foster youth who are scholarship recipients for post-secondary education). 1987. this research provides descriptive data regarding the sexual abuse experiences of a high-functioning population of girls formerly in foster care. and (3) youth with a history of sexual abuse have unique placement experiences within the child welfare system. have not yet been investigated within a foster care context. This research found that PTSD rates were highest among girls. Leifer. Self-blame in particular.

2004. the following demographic information was known to be consistent across participants: (1) Participants were under the age of 25 as of March 31. Because participants were OFA students. their partnership in identifying potential participants was crucial to the success of the study. Participants included 84 young women who were in the custody of the child welfare system during their teenage years. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 25 years and were asked about their childhood experiences of abuse as well as their placement history within the foster care system. Participants were recruited through an e-mail sent to all current scholarship recipients at the OFA. abuse in both settings). Through an anonymous online survey. and (5) TRB would be a significant predictor of resilience scores. (3) There would be a significant difference in TRB across sexual abuse settings (abuse prior to entering the foster care system. Paz Galupo 101 Second. participants answered questions regarding their history of abuse within and outside the foster care system and completed surveys related to current trauma-related beliefs and resilience. residing in 35 states in the United States. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 25 (M = 20.Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 Angela L. Breno and M. The following hypotheses were made: (1) Participants with a history of sexual abuse would have higher placement ratios (placements per year) compared to participants who did not have a history of sexual abuse. Participants represented a geographically diverse area. (3) Participants had been in public or private foster care for a minimum of 12 months at the time of their 18th birthday. (2) Participants with a history of sexual abuse would be significantly more likely to have been in at least one restrictive placement as compared to participants without a history of sexual abuse. (4) TRB would be positively correlated with current levels of resilience. and (4) Participants were not adopted following their tenure in foster care. abuse within foster care system. . this research investigates the psychological correlates of sexual abuse. (2) Participants had completed high school or high school equivalency tests (GED) and were currently enrolled in an accredited postsecondary school or vocational program at an undergraduate level. SD = 1.58).56. METHOD Participants Due to the Orphan Foundation of America’s (OFA) visibility and reputation in serving this population.

Participants indicated their response on individual items from 0 (“Absolutely untrue”) to 4 (“Absolutely true”) and possible total scores ranged from 0 to 224 where higher scores indicate more maladaptive responses. Placement Ratio. and 9. Possible scores range from 0 to 100 with higher scores reflecting greater resilience. Participants answered a series of questions related to their experiences in the foster care system.4% (n = 2) Asian American. Questions included number of abusers. 20. 1. placement where the abuse occurred.7% (n = 72) identified as heterosexual. frequency of abuse.93.102 JOURNAL OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE Within the sample.2% (n = 1) Native American. Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 Materials The Trauma-Related Beliefs Questionnaire (TRB). A placement ratio was calculated for each participant by dividing the total number of foster care placements by the number of years spent in the foster care system. 6% (n = 5) Hispanic. each rated on a five-point Likert-type scale. and placement types. and placement following the abuse. Betrayal. The racial/ ethnic composition of the sample was relatively diverse where participants self-identified as 60.5% (n = 8) identified as Other. The TRB Questionnaire (Hazzard.7% (n = 51) White. The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). Experiences in Foster Care. The TRB comprises four sub-scales each assessing a different dimension of TRB including Self-Blame/Stigmatization.2 % (n = 17) Black. and 1. The CD-RISC (Connor & Davidson. For example. age abuse began and ended. and Traumatic Sexualization. Powerlessness. a placement ratio of 3. Participants answered a series of questions in order to establish a history of sexual abuse. 2.2% questioning (n = 1). 85. 2003) was used to measure resilience. History of Sexual Abuse. number of foster care placements. The TRB consists of 56 items. relationship to the abuser. The CDRISC comprises 25 items. 1993) was used to assess the cognitive and affective orientations accompanying sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence. This number represents the stability of placements where higher numbers represent more movement within the system. 6% bisexual (n = 5).1% lesbian (n = 6).0 would represent an average of three foster care placements per year (“Rela- . These included age when entering and exiting foster care. 7. all rated on a five-point Likert-type scale (0-4). The TRB has high internal reliability with an alpha of .

The e-mail contained a letter explaining the study and included a link to a secure server that directed individuals to the study. Prior to consenting to participate in the study. 1992). Procedure The current study was designed as an online survey to circumvent tracking issues and to ensure the complete anonymity of OFA’s scholarship recipients. Restrictive placements included residential treatment centers (both locked and unlocked). n = 55) reported a history of sexual abuse.1-6. The foster care experiences . Paz Galupo 103 tively unstable”) and a placement ratio of . in undergraduate women who were once foster children. kinship care. Breno and M. Placement Restrictedeness. Restrictive placements allowed for lower levels of freedom and required higher levels of supervision than non-restrictive placements. Participants were recruited through an e-mail sent directly from an OFA staff member. jail. RESULTS Consistent with the two goals for this research.5 would represent one placement in two years (“Relatively stable”). Descriptive Statistics Related to Sexual Abuse Experiences Comparison of Participant Experience Across History of Sexual Abuse.Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 Angela L. Completion of the study required a maximum of 20 minutes. and group homes. Participants were treated in accordance with the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA. and psychiatric hospitals. individuals were informed of their rights as participants and were informed of the study requirements. analyses were conducted to (1) allow for a description of sexual abuse experiences for this population of former foster youth. Non-restrictive placements included foster homes. Placement restrictedness was determined by whether or not participants were ever in a restrictive placement during the time spent in the child welfare system.5%. and (2) to better understand TRB subsequent to sexual abuse. see Principles 6. detention centers. Of the total sample (N = 84) the majority of women (65.20 in the “Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct” APA.

43 placements per year. Table 2 provides comparative data regarding sexual abuse histories and foster care experiences of these participants.01. (2) Participants who were abused while in foster care. p < .50 (55) No History of Sexual Abuse 34. Experiences are provided for three groups of participants on the basis of the placement where sexual abuse occurred: (1) Participants who were abused prior to entering foster care. only 10. Descriptive Results Related to Sexual Abuse Experiences.63). . Participants with–versus without–a history of sexual abuse differed in their foster care experiences. Specifically.5% of participants with a history of sexual abuse had been in at least one restrictive placement during foster care and averaged 1.43) when compared with participants who did not have a history of sexual abuse (M = . t (82) = 2. Foster Care Placements Differed for Participants Across History of Sexual Abuse History of Sexual Abuse Participants % (n) Placement Ratio* Restrictive Placement* % 65. p < .05 level. 34. Additionally. Table 1 provides a summary of these results. Of the 55 participants who reported having been sexually abused. *= Significant differences found at the .9% of the participants reported sexual abuse occurring within the foster care system.50 10.5%). N = 84) = 5. and (3) Participants who were abused in both settings.67. participants with a history of sexual abuse (34. It is noteworthy that a total of 34.30 Note. ␹2(1.3% participants with no history of sexual abuse experienced a restrictive placement within foster care and averaged 0.63 placements per year.50 (29) 1.43 0. Participants with a history of sexual abuse had higher placement ratios (M = 1.75. 12 individuals did not complete the section in the survey detailing the specifics of sexual abuse and were therefore not included in the remaining analyses. were different on an important number of indices.63 34. The remainder of the analyses reported here includes 43 participants with a complete history of abuse noted. These findings followed the predicted pattern.Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 104 JOURNAL OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE of participants who did have a history of sexual abuse versus those who did not.5%) were significantly more likely to have experienced a restrictive placement while in foster care when compared with participants without a history of sexual abuse (10. Four one-way ANOVAs were conducted to investigate whether there was a difference across the three abuse placement groups for (1) age TABLE 1. In contrast.05.

40) = 3.79) than participants abused within the foster care system (M = 6.50 20. .17 Age When Entered Foster Care* 12. Post hoc analyses indicated that those participants abused in both settings had significantly more sexual abusers (M = 3. a significant difference in age upon entering foster care across the three groups.00 18.06.19.05.05 level. F (2. Post hoc Bonferroni tests indicated that participants who were abused prior to entering foster care were significantly older when entering foster care (M = 12.14 2. There was also a significant difference in the number of sexual abusers across the three groups. Paz Galupo 105 Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 TABLE 2. or the age upon leaving foster care F (2. p < .33 8.79 6.Angela L.44) than those abused prior to entering foster care (M = 2. of first sexual abuse. p > . however. p < . with 83. * = Significant differences found at the . and (4) number of sexual abusers. In general.05.7% reporting having a history of physical abuse. A Chi-Squared analysis was conducted and found no significant difference in physical abuse rates across the three groups. (2) age when entering foster care.85. Participant Experiences Across Placements Where Sexual Abuse Occurred Abuse Prior to Entering Foster Care Abuse in Foster Care Setting Abuse in Both Settings Participants (%) 65.01. p > .44 Note. (3) age when leaving foster care.33).90 Current Age 20.00 8.32 19. There were no significant difference across abuse placements for the age when participants were first sexually abused F (2. Breno and M. The number of sexual abusers for participants abused within the foster care system (M = 2.05.45 9.67 Number of Sexual Abusers* 2. physical abuse rates within this sample were high.75 21.40. The age upon entering foster care for participants abused in both settings (M = 8. 39) = 3.10 14. F (2.17 3.78) did not differ from either of the other two groups.14). 40) = 6. 39) = 0. There was.78 Age When Leaving Foster Care 18.89 Age at First Sexual Abuse 7.17) did not significantly differ from either of the other two groups.00 20.

106 JOURNAL OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 Assessing Trauma-Related Beliefs in Former Foster Girls: Internal Reliability Analysis The TRB measure (Hazzard.86.0).87.00).86.6) with 39. the current sample included women. The age at which participants entered foster care and the number of sexual abusers were covaried out of the analysis.93 for the overall scale. followed by participants who were abused within foster care (M = 122. 1993) has been shown to be a reliable measure of beliefs for sexual abuse survivors.89.39).93.05) for participants abused in both settings when compared to either of the other two groups. and participants who were abused prior to entering foster care (M = 117. Trauma-Related Beliefs in Relation to Placement During Abuse Table 3 provides a summary of participants’ trauma-related beliefs across the three placement groups. As the population demographics were distinct from the original sample. Sub-scale reliability was also similar to Hazzard’s original scores: (1) Self-Blame/Stigmatization .05. F (2. (2) Betrayal .3% identifying as racial minorities and 14. and (4) Traumatic Sexualization . A one-way ANOVA covaried for age when the participant entered foster care and the number of sexual abusers revealed a significant difference in overall TRB across abuse placement for sexual abuse. (2) Betrayal .78. with only 4% identifying as racial minorities. 40) = 3.93. Scores on the SelfBlame/Stigmatization sub-scale differed significantly across the three . Additional analyses were conducted for each of the TRB sub-scales. Post hoc analyses revealed that TRB were significantly higher ( p < . and (4) Traumatic Sexualization .83). By comparison. p < .3 as sexual minority. (3) Powerlessness . a preliminary analysis was conducted in order to establish whether the TRB is a reliable measure for this population of former foster youth. Results indicate a comparable reliability coefficient with Hazzard’s original analysis (1993) alpha was . yielding an overall internal reliability coefficient alpha of .86. Sub-scale reliability coefficients also indicated a high degree of reliability: (1) Self-Blame/Stigmatization . (3) Powerlessness . TRB were highest for participants who had been sexually abused both outside and within the foster care system (M = 143. The original reliability analysis was conducted using 56 adult women sexual abuse survivors between the ages of 20 to 55 (M = 39.79. There was little racial diversity within this sample.46. ranging in age from 18 to 25 (M = 20.

p < . Betrayal Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 117. p > . p > . F (2.05 for Betrayal. and F (2.62.00).21 9.06. 2. 40) = 2.Angela L.83. positively correlated with number of sexual abusers (.25 27. 40) = 3. Correlates of Trauma-Related Beliefs Intercorrelations between TRB.283. Post hoc analyses revealed that Self-Blame/Stigmatization scores were significantly higher (p < .00 13.83 143.17 31. Paz Galupo 107 TABLE 3. 40) = 1.05 for Traumatic Sexualization. followed by participants who were abused within foster care (M = 63.67 4.60.01).67 1.00 26. Predicting Resiliency: A Preliminary Analysis A hierarchical regression was conducted for resilience to test whether trauma-related beliefs (specifically Self-Blame and Powerlessness) would make a significant contribution to resilience scores independent of placement ratio. Powerlessness 21.05 for Powerlessness. age when first sexually abused and number of abusers (both sexual and physical) are presented in Table 4.11). 40) = 1. Self-Blame/Stigmatization was highest for participants who had been sexually abused both outside and within the foster care system (M = 73. Traumatic Sexualization 11. age of first .39 Abuse in Both Settings Note.541.05) for participants abused in both settings when compared to either of the other two groups.50 24.17).00 58. groups.67 3. p < . Results support predicted correlational patterns between TRB and resilience scores where TRB scores were negatively correlated with resilience (⫺.82 23. TRB scores were significantly.05). and participants who were only abused prior to entering foster care (M = 58.05.05 level. p > . p < . placement ratio. * = Significant differences found at the . resilience. age when entered foster care. Breno and M. Trauma-Related Beliefs (TRB) and Abuse Placements Abuse Prior to Abuse in Foster Entering Foster Care Care Setting TRB Total* Self-Blame/Stigmatization* 122.11 63. No significant differences were found for the other three TRB sub-scales where F (2. F (2.17 73. There were no significant correlations between TRB and the remaining variables.

1996. Focusing on the sexual abuse histories of girls in the foster care system was appropriate given that past research has indicated that while physical abuse rates across sex in family foster care are similar. women are at increased risk for sexual abuse within the foster care setting (Benedict et al. By considering a high-functioning population of former foster youth.337* ⫺ ⫺ 4.. Number of (Sexual) Abusers Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 5 0. Table 5 provides a summary of this analysis.156 ⫺0. and number of abusers for physical abuse.243 ⫺ ⫺0.. Placement Ratio 4 0.541** 0. * = significant at the 0. Participants were recruited from a pool of scholarship recipients from the oldest and largest organization providing scholarships to former foster youth.283* 6 0.024 3. Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale ⫺ 0. DISCUSSION This research provides the first descriptive data regarding sexual abuse histories in the child welfare system that exclusively considers high-functioning individuals.001).193 ⫺0. sexual abuse. The Orphan Foundation of America (OFA).112 0. 1991).262* 0.020 0. This research focused on the experiences of girls who spent their teen years in the foster care system and are currently enrolled at post-secondary educational institutions. Rosenthal et al.329* 0.01 level. A focus on girls’ experiences is also ap- . Correlates of Trauma-Related Beliefs The 6 parameters measured 2 3 1.108 JOURNAL OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE TABLE 4. Powerlessness (but not Self-Blame) was found to make a significant contribution to resiliency scores above and beyond foster care and abuse demographics (p < .** = significant at the 0.110 0. number of abusers for sexual abuse. Past research on former foster youth has focused disproportionately on negative outcomes.164 0. Age when First Sexually Abused ⫺ 6. it is possible to consider foster care outcomes from a unique vantage point.210 5. Trauma-Related Belief Total ⫺0.146 2.05 level. Number of (Physical) Abusers Note.

Summary of Hierarchical Regression Analysis for Trauma-Related Beliefs Predicting Resiliency Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 Variable Step 1 Age When Entered Foster Care Placement Ratio Number of Abusers for Sexual Abuse Age when First Sexual Abuse Number of Abusers for Physical Abuse Step 2 Powerlessness Self.90 0.40 0.95 0.12 ⫺1. R² = . For participants with a history of sexual abuse. In addition. Although the age of first sexual abuse did not differ across the three groups. but did not significantly differ across groups.79 3. Trauma-Related Beliefs in Sexually Abused Girls Formerly in the Foster Care System This research is the first to assess trauma-related beliefs associated with sexual abuse within the foster care system. women who reported sexual abuse in both settings had significantly higher numbers of sexual abusers than women in the other two groups.16 ⫺1.001.701** .Angela L.00 0.60 1.00 Note.10 18.32 0. **p ⬍ . women who were sexually abused within foster care were significantly younger when they entered foster care.Blame B SE B ␤ 0.71 2.14 ⫺0.01 0.30 1. Consistent with past research (Edmond et al. as the majority of applicants for OFA scholarships are women. propriate with this population. within the foster care system. some experiences differed across the placement where sexual abuse occurred–outside the foster care system.47 0.398 for Step 2. 2002) the placement histories of foster youth who were sexually abused were distinct. R ² = . Breno and M.41 0. and within both settings. this research .14 0. At the outset. Rates of physical abuse were high.001 for Step 1. Women with a history of sexual abuse changed placements within the child welfare system twice as often as women with no history of sexual abuse and were more likely to have been housed in a restrictive placement.05 ⫺0. The current study reveals that even among this high-functioning population the majority of individuals entering foster care had a history of sexual abuse and that significant additional abuse occurred while under the custody of the child welfare system. Paz Galupo 109 TABLE 5.98 0..

TRB and number of sexual abusers were positively correlated. however. a significant difference emerged for SelfBlame/Stigmatization scores in a pattern that mirrored the overall TRB scores across placement where sexual abuse occurred. Powerlessness was the most important predictor of overall maladjustment (Hazzard et al. Participants in this group. Self-Blame did not emerge .. In addition to powerlessness. The importance of powerlessness in these studies supports theoretical conceptualizations (Finkelhor & Browne. age at first sexual abuse and number of abusers for physical abuse) and Self-Blame. TRB scores were highest for participants who reported abuse across both settings (within and prior to entering the child welfare system). powerlessness emerged as a significant predictor of resilience (accounting for nearly 40% of the variance). Valentine and Feinauer (1993) also focused on the role of self-blame in resilience. Among the four sub-scales. Resilience. This finding within the foster care context. This finding for Powerlessness as a significant predictor of resilience is supported by retrospective qualitative research on resilience and sexual abuse within the general (non-foster care) population (Valentine & Feinauer. which could account for the higher TRB scores. 1987. 1985) that a sense of control or power during recovery leads to less negative effects. over and above foster care variables (i. coupled with the emphasis on self-blame in the general literature (Conte & Schuerman. The role of powerlessness is further supported by a prospective study of girls between ages 8 to 13 who were victims of sexual abuse. age when entering foster care and placement ratio). 1993) and establishes its use as a reliable measure within this specialized population of former foster youth. for these participants was related to “recognizing personal power” and to an internal locus of control.. Shapiro et al. Trauma-Related Beliefs and Resilience Investigating this high-functioning population of former foster youth provides a unique opportunity for considering predictors of resilience. 1995).. abuse demographics (number of abusers for sexual abuse. TRB were shown to vary within this population depending upon where sexual abuse occurred and were independent from the age at which they entered foster care and how many sexual abusers they had. In an exploratory regression analysis.Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 110 JOURNAL OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE provides a psychometric analysis of the TRB Scale (Hazzard. reported a significantly higher number of sexual abusers.e. 1992) indicate that understanding factors related to self-blame may represent an important direction for future research within the foster care population. 1993).

Overall. including an analysis of substantiated versus unsubstantiated reports of abuse. Retrospective approaches to understanding childhood maltreatment have been shown to complement prospective studies. 1996). Breno and M. for example. Rates of resilience were highest (indicated by lowest levels of symptomatology) for individuals who blamed the perpetrator. sexual abuse experiences were identified through self-report methods. that given abuse occurring within foster care. Directions for Future Research The present study provides a framework for considering sexual abuse in the foster care system. (2) Blame Fate. 2003) that focused on resilient characteristics rather than presenting behaviors.” “Coping with stress strengthens. Many studies define lower levels of symptomatology as resiliency (Feinauer & Stuart. in this study. Paz Galupo 111 in the current study as a significant predictor of resilience.Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 Angela L. blame was considered along four possible dimensions: (1) Blame Self. is not entirely surprising especially in the context of Feinauer and Stuart’s (1996) more complex notion of blame attribution. that Self-Blame was not a significant predictor of resilience. As it took a retrospective approach. This difference may be related to the way in which resilience is operationalized. Future research on sexual abuse within the child welfare system should allow for multiple measures. (3) Blame Both. and (4) Blame Perpetrator. Within Feinauer and Stuart’s framework of blame (1996) individuals low in self-blame could fall within one of the three remaining categories. documenting predictive factors for resiliency represents an important area for future research and would provide an opportunity to further explore variables related to positive outcomes for former foster youth.” The relation between resiliency scores when measured by self-report and by the presence/absence of symptomatology is not entirely clear. 2004 for a full discussion). that are associated with secrecy and shame (see Kendall-Tackett & Becker-Blease. . Instead of focusing solely on self-blame.” and “Strong sense of purpose. an additional conceptualization of blaming the system may manifest. Future research on sexual abuse within the foster care system should integrate more complex notions of blame. was assessed using a self-report measure (Connor & Davidson. Participants were asked to rate how true each statement is for their circumstance. Items included resilient characteristics such as “Able to adapt to change. Resilience. and are of particular importance when studying issues such as sexual abuse. It is possible. The present finding.

M. Depress Anxiety.org). M. Zuravin. Conte. W... Factors associated with an increased impact of child sexual abuse. 367-373. 20. I. 76-82. S.. Elze. Her research interests include experiences and outcomes of the child welfare system. Development of a new resilience scale: The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC). R. Breno. (1996). These factors include (1) relationship of abuser to participant. T. Child Abuse & Neglect. T. M. 201-211. received her master’s degree in Experimental Psychology from Towson University. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Future research should build upon this study specifically by comparing experiences between distinct populations within the former foster care population. (1994). 18. Dubner. Of particular interest is the relation between TRB and these within-system variables related to sexual abuse experiences within the child welfare system. PhD.Downloaded by [Universidad de Chile] at 21:44 08 May 2013 112 JOURNAL OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE Additional factors related to experiences within the child welfare system were not investigated in this research. Importantly. & Davidson. Types and frequency of child maltreatment by family foster care providers in an urban population. H. Her research interests focus on understanding social and interpersonal relationships in the context of race. AUTHOR NOTE Angela L.. Paz Galupo. McMillen. Benedict. D. and (4) placement decisions subsequent to reported abuse. is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Multicultural Institute at Towson University. and queer studies. A. E. Somerfield. Child Abuse & Neglect. J. D. (angie@orphan. R. R. E. 11.. M. Sexually and physically abused foster care children and posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. 67(3). and sexual orientation. Child Abuse & Neglect. 561-570. & Schuerman.. sex/ gender. 577-585. (2) whether abuse was reported. (2002). (pgalupo@towson. R. this research represents the first study to consider the psychological correlates of sexual abuse within a high-functioning population of foster youth. & Abbey. (1987).. women and lesbian health issues. I. 18. A. & Motta. Edmond. REFERENCES Benedict. Brandt. MA. C. The reported health and functioning of children maltreated while in family foster care. Specific factors related to abuse experiences should be considered in the future.. J. Differences between sexually abused and non-sexually abused adolescent girls in foster care. & Thompson. She is currently a researcher with the Ophan Foundation of America.. R. W. 11. & Brandt.edu). Connor. D. (1999). M. Zuravin. 73-99. K. .. Auslander. (2003). (3) response of the child welfare system to reports of abuse.

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