• Factors contributing to maternal protectiveness following the disclosure of intrafamilial child sexual abuse: A documentary study based on reports of Child Protective Service workers

      Heriot, Jessica K.; Ephross, Paul H. (1991)
      This study investigate maternal protectiveness following the disclosure of intrafamilial child sexual abuse. Two questions were posed: (1) What proportion of mothers act in a protective way following the disclosure of child sexual abuse, and (2) What factors are associated with maternal non protection? Maternal protectiveness was operationalized in two ways: (1) The mother takes action to physically separate herself and her abused child from the perpetrator, and (2) she feels and acts supportively toward her sexually abused child. The study investigated fourteen factors thought to be associated with maternal non protectiveness. They were grouped in three categories: individual maternal factors, child characteristics, and factors pertaining to the mother's relationship to the perpetrator. The study also investigated the relationship between maternal belief and maternal protectiveness. The study population was drawn from substantiated cases of child sexual abuse reported to Baltimore City and County Sexual Abuse Intake Units, Division of Child Protective Services. The sample consisted of 118 mothers whose children were abused by a family member or the mother's partner with whom the mother and the child were living when the abuse was reported to Child Protective Services. At the close of the intake period, data was collected on maternal protectiveness via a questionnaire given to intake workers. The majority of mothers took action to separate themselves and their children from the perpetrator (56.8%). Two-thirds of the mothers were supportive of their sexually abused children. Fifty-two percent of the mothers both separated from the perpetrator and were supportive of their children. Mothers whose feelings toward the perpetrator were warm and accepting were more likely to be non protective than mothers whose feelings were hostile and rejecting. Mothers of seriously abused children were more likely to be non protective than mothers of less seriously abused children. In addition, mothers who abused drug and/or alcohol and mothers of children abused by a husband or boyfriend were at risk for non protection. Finally, mothers of older children were less likely to be protective than mothers of younger children.