Mothers with a history of childhood sexual abuse

Mothers with a history of childhood sexual abuse

Key issues for child protection practice and policy

Cindy Tarczon

ACSSA Research Summary No. 2 — May 2012
Mothers with a history of childhood sexual abuse

Key messages

Research highlights that a maternal history of childhood sexual abuse often underpins many of the complex issues that lead to compromised parenting capacities.

The complex interplay of these issues in known as complex trauma, and is understood to have an impact on the capacity to provide empathic and consistent care, which inevitably impairs the mother-child relationship.

Victim/survivors of childhood sexual abuse who become shared clients of child statutory agencies and allied health service providers are often difficult to engage in services due to issues of trust and safety.

By expanding our understanding of the indirect effects of childhood sexual abuse in areas such as mental health, intimate partner violence, substance abuse and homelessness, we can become more informed of the stressors that affect some women's parenting capacities and create service responses that enhance their own lives and the lives of their children.

This publication reviews the literature examining the impacts of a history of maternal childhood sexual abuse on parenting capacities and the impacts on children.

It specifically examines the domains of mental health, intimate partner violence, substance abuse and homelessness and the overlap with a history of maternal childhood sexual abuse, highlighting the difficulties faced by these women when engaging with statutory and welfare agencies.

Authors and Acknowledgements

At time of writing Cindy Tarczon was a Research Officer at the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault.

The author would like to thank Louise Newman, Helen Kambouridis and Liz Olle for their valued input.
This publication was prepared in collaboration with the Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange.

Publication details

ACSSA Research Summary
No. 2
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, May 2012.
15 pp.
ISSN: 
2200-2308
ISBN: 
978-1-922038-85-5
Suggested citation:

Tarczon, C. (2012). Mothers with a history of childhood sexual abuse: Key issues for child protection practice and policy (ACSSA Research Summary). Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault, Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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