TREATMENT ISSUES FOR SURVIVORS OF PHYSICAL AND SEXUAL ABUSE

Authors

  • Dean M. Busby,

    1. Syracuse University
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    • Dean M. Busby, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Department of Child and Family Studies, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244.

  • Ed Glenn,

    1. Texas Tech University
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    • Ed Glenn, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409.

  • Gary L. Steggell,

    1. LDS Social Services Richmond
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    • Gary L. Steggell, PhD, is Director of LDS Social Services, Richmond, VA 23112.

  • Darren W. Adamson

    1. Intermountain Health Care Salt Lake City Utah
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    • Darren W. Adamson, PhD, is an Adjunct Instructor at Weber State College, Ogden, UT, and is employed as a Marriage and Family Therapist with Intermountain Health Care, Ogden, UT 84403.


  • *Portions of this paper were originally presented at the National Council on Family Relations Annual Meeting, November 6, 1989, New Orleans, LA.

Abstract

Many clients who participate in family therapy have experienced trauma such as physical and sexual abuse in their families of origin. Extensive literature suggests that abusive experiences can result in post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and other long-term effects. Without recognition of the effects that abuse can have on individuals, it is possible to misdiagnose clients or fail to provide them with adequate assistance. This study is an attempt to compare the symptomology of nonabused clients with physically and sexually abused clients using an empirically sound measure. The results demonstrate that the majority of clients who experienced physical and/or sexual abuse in their backgrounds scored in the clinical range on scales from the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Instrument (MCMI) (Millon, 1984). In contrast, clients who did not report abuse had significantly lower scores than the abused clients, and the majority of the nonabused clients scored in the nonclinical range on the scales of the MCMI. Treatment and theoretical implications surrounding the issues of abuse are discussed, and recommendations for marriage and family therapists are provided.

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