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J Child Sex Abus. 2009 Jan-Feb;18(1):78-92. doi: 10.1080/10538710802584668.

Perceptions of blame and credibility toward victims of childhood sexual abuse: differences across victim age, victim-perpetrator relationship, and respondent gender in a depicted case.

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Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, UK.


This study investigated victim culpability, credibility, and assault severity in a hypothetical sexual abuse case. A 2 (respondent gender) x 3 (victim age) x 3 (perpetrator type) between-subjects design was employed. Members (391) of the U.K. general public read the depiction of a female child assaulted by an adult male perpetrator. Respondents then completed an attributions questionnaire. Findings showed that male respondents were less positive toward victims and considered the victim less credible than female respondents. Younger victims (aged five years) were considered more credible than older children (aged 15 years). Victims of strangers were considered more positively and more credible than victims of someone known to them (their father or a family friend). Suggestions for future work are proposed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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