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Understanding Childhood Sexual Abuse in Latina Youth

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Today in society the growing numbers of childhood sexual abuse in youth today grow on a daily bases. It can be difficult to talk about sexual abuse, but more so acknowledge that sexual abuse in female youth of all ages and ethnicities including infants happens everyday (USDHHS 2007). As the numbers of abuse cases grow, societal levels of working professionals work to help treat chronic trauma in many childhood sexual abuse survivors. Many victims of CSA report being abused more than once in their life-time, daily, or in many cases victims reporting years of on-going abuse. According, to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), an estimated 9.3 percent of confirmed or substantiated child abuse and neglect cases in 2005 involved sexual abuse (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007). The American Humane Association in 2011 reports that the estimated percentage of report cases, translates into over 83,800 victims in 2005 alone (USDHHS, 2007). This goes on to say that girls are more frequently the victims of sexual abuse, however the number of boys is also very significant (USHHS, 2007). Examining the cross-cultural aspects of chronic trauma of childhood sexual abuse, Latina youth do not divert from the issue. Liagiero et. al (2009), suggests that for many Latina youth who are survivors to sexual abuse, examining values, beliefs, and practices they derive from their specific Latino cultural group, effect when and how they cope with (CSA) childhood sexual abuse on socially, culturally, and individually level (Ligiero et, al. 2009).

Part I. Understanding Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) in Latina Youth

Consequences of (CSA) at individual, family, and community level

Consequences that victims of chronic trauma in childhood sexual abuse in female youth become generally at higher risk of problems of mental health and social functioning arising from the powerlessness and stigmatization of the abuse process (Boyer, 1992). Research suggests that certain characteristics of Latino culture may influence how a survivor copes with CSA. Liegero et. al 2009, suggests these characteristics include values, and beliefs to "familismo" how young Latinas learn to identify their gender roles in the family system which includes "machismo" where woman learn to become subjective (physically, emotionally, and sexually) to the demands of a male role (Ligero, pg. 67).

At the family level machismo can play a major role how Latina youth aquire a sense of fear of voicing out their abuse, and learn keep quiet about the abuse as well. Latina youth can also experience dealing with machismo growing up even after the abuse has taken place, affecting their manner in how they behave around family, beliefs about themselves, and how they interact with other people outside of the home (Liegero et al. 2009). The cultural norm or belief female youth can experience while growing up during adolescence, is the feeling men own women, and they often being viewed as property by men (Liergo, pg.72). Within the family and cultural level, many young females grow up with rigid teaching about sexuality, and the beliefs about sexuality. Latina youth being are taught that sex is a topic that is not openly talked about or taught, especially by women (Ligiero et. al 2009). With this in mind Latina youth are faced to learn about their sexuality independently, where in many cases become influenced through books, or other peer groups (Ligiero, pg. 74). Furthermore, due to cultural norms within Latino families, many female youth go without actually disclosing their abuse to family members to the fear of being rejected by family members (Fontes, 1995). This can become a difficult task for many Latina youth due to also the fear of being kicked out of their homes, or afraid that family members would not believe the encounters of their abuse (Ligiero, 73). Herman (1992), also points out that in the matter of criminal reporting, the choice rests with the survivor, a decision to report ideally opens the door to social restitution, placing the survivor to deal with the legal system that may be hostile or indifferent to her (Herman, pg. 165). Ligiero et. al (2009) study suggests that many of the female youth who experienced childhood sexual abuse, as well as other forms of sexual violence was not talked about in their homes. Ligiero (2009) research concludes that many of the young girls grew up learning that sexual abuse was something that they silence, an issue that family members do not talk about and become in denial about the abuse ( Ligiero 2009). Latina youth suffering from childhood sexual abuse were found to not disclose about the abuse or tell someone, could cause further abuse due to not being believed or even blamed for the sexual abuse (Ligiero, pg. 73). One study found that Latina survivors experienced more distress, including greater self-blame compared to Anglos (Katerndahl et al., 2005).

Risks (CSA) poses at the developmental trajectory/pathway if left untreated.

Examining the consequences of childhood trauma due to the impact of childhood sexual abuse brings upon long term negative effects on the child's sexual self-esteem, self-concept and sexual adjustment when struggling with interpersonal problems and coping patterns (Boyer, pg.4, 1992). Trauma arrests the course of normal development by its repetitive intrusion into the survivor's life (Herman, 1992). Boyer's et. al (1992) study, found that the maltreatment of childhood sexual abuse, may affect children in all areas of development, delaying cognitive, social, emotional, and psychological development that can ultimately interfere with the child's overall adaptive functioning (Boyer, et. al. 1992). Boyer et, al (1992), research suggest female youth who experienced childhood sexual abuse by the age of eighteen became pregnant. In Boyer, et. al (1992) study, he identifies sexual abuse as coercive sexual experiences, child molestation, and rape or attempted rape where fifty-five percent had been molested, forty two percent were victims of attempted rape, and forty four had been raped (Boyer, pg.4). Adolescents who are survivors to sexual victimization, one risk factor due to the abuse is becoming pregnant causing female youth to often can suffer low self-esteem, self-efficacy and feelings of powerlessness and alienation (Boyer, 1992).

Childhood sexual abuse survivors overtime if left untreated may place the victim possibly seeking psychiatric help as an adult based on the severity of their trauma (Herman, 2009). Medical treatment to childhood survivors varies when addressing the mental state of the victim. One of



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