Long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse in the empathy-deficient schemas of adolescent girls

Roxanna Whitney Wolfe (1989)

This study explores the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) as evidenced in the interpersonal behavior of adolescent girls. Relational development is viewed from a cognitive and interpersonal perspective (Youniss, 1980). A model for investigation is developed, which proposes that interpersonal behavior is guided by a cognitive schema for interpersonal events. Neisser's (1976) theory of cognitive schema and interpersonal constructs are used as foundations for the paradigm. The method places the study at the level of relationship. The Impact Message Inventory (IMI) (Kiesler, 1987) was used, with adults in each setting reporting their responses to adolescent girls in three groups: (a) treatment milieu, CSA; (b) treatment milieu, non-CSA; and (c) natural school environment. A semi-structured interview was conducted with selected subjects from groups $a$ and $b$. MANOVA was used, finding strong differences between the 2 treatment groups taken together and the control group on 2 IMI variables. The discussion of findings includes differences found between the groups and an examination of the findings within group a, based on the IMI and interview. Implications for treatment and program planning are proposed.