Friday, January 17, 2020: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Liberty Ballroom K, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Violence against Women and Children (VAWC)
Adam Brown, PhD, Hunter College
Traumatic experiences can adversely impact neurological zones responsible for higher order thinking, or executive functioning (Steinberg, 2008), which can contribute to a host of psychological and behavioral deficits (Jaffee & Maikovich-Fong, 2014), including sexual offending behaviors by youth (Nikulina & Spatz-Widom, 2013) and adults (Jespersen, Lalumiere, & Seto, 2009). Some theoretical frameworks have integrated these as causal steps to sexual violence (Grady, Levenson, & Bolder, 2016; Marshall & Barbaree, 1990; Marshall & Marshall, 2000; Ward, 2014), as the intersection of early life abuse and relational experiences can contribute to deficits in regulation that can, in turn, sequentially lead to sexually violent behaviors. Although some attention has been given to testing the sequela of adverse childhood experiences leading to problem sexual behavior (e.g. Grady, Yoder, Brown, 2018), there remains a dearth of research testing such theories, leaving a gap for social workers in our understanding of how to prevent sexual abuse. In this symposium, we will present three interrelated research papers that empirically explore the connections between early life abuse and risk for subsequent sexual offending in youth and adults. In the first paper, we will present research that explores the direct relationship between physical and sexual abuse, maternal attachment, and three emotional and behavioral dysregulation outcomes among youth who have committed sexual assault. In the second paper, we will present findings that reveal consecutive linkages and intermediary pathways between physical and sexual abuse, deficits in executive functioning, callousness, and sexual violence in a different sample of youth. In the third paper, we will present research that compares the adverse childhood experiences among the three groups of adult males: 1) those who have committed a sexual offense, 2) those who identify as being sexually attracted to children but have not committed a sexual offense, and 3) the general population. Treatment, research, and policy implications will be discussed after each presentation. We will focus especially on prevention and intervention strategies that social workers can use in practice settings, with special attention on the potential impact of racial and socioeconomic disparities.
* noted as presenting author
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