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Dissertation Defence: “You can tell me anything”: The role of caregivers in obtaining and maintaining support for children after receiving a disclosure of physical or sexual abuse
November 17 at 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Cassidy Wallis, supervised by Dr. Michael Woodworth, will defend their dissertation titled ““You can tell me anything”: The role of caregivers in obtaining and maintaining support for children after receiving a disclosure of physical or sexual abuse” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology – Psychological Science.
An abstract for Cassidy Wallis dissertation is included below.
Examinations are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.
Child abuse is a severely underreported crime (7 – 15%; General Social Survey, 2019; Winters et al., 2020). Reporting is crucial to seeking and obtaining formal support for those impacted. Before a report can be made, the abuse must be discovered through the presence of evidence or disclosure. Study 1 focused on exploring differences in disclosure and related factors between child sexual abuse (CSA) and child physical abuse (CPA). Study 2 investigated the responses of prominent disclosure recipients. Through the analysis of n = 466 RCMP files, Study 1 revealed significant differences in CSA and CPA along disclosure-relevant dimensions (e.g., child’s age, gender, severity and frequency of abuse, and relation to perpetrator (p < .001)). Disclosures were more crucial to the discovery of CSA but were delayed longer than CPA. Non-offending caregivers were the largest group of disclosure recipients. Study 2 utilized a subset of data from Study 1 n = 258, those where non-offending caregivers were aware of the abuse and able to respond. The MDS configurations were different across abuse types. Non-offending caregivers generally responded to disclosures with support. However, only 54% of caregivers reported it. Abuse type was a significant predictor of support, with more blame and less interruption of contact between the perpetrator and child in cases of CPA. Further, being related was a significant predictor of reporting CSA, while frequency of abuse predicted reporting of CPA. Overall, these studies contribute to a deeper understanding of the complexities involved in disclosing and responding to disclosures of abuse.