Disclosure patterns of sexual abuse and psychological functioning at a 1-year follow-up

Deborah E. Nagel, Frank W. Putnam, Jennie G. Noll, Penelope K. Trickett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


This study describes the disclosure processes of a sample of 68 sexually abused girls, with a focus on the manner in which abuse was revealed-on purpose, accidentally, or resulting from a precipitating event. This categorization is a more descriptive conceptualization of the disclosure process than has been proposed or assessed in previous studies. The circumstances surrounding disclosure are found to be related to long term psychological functioning. Children who disclosed accidentally were younger, experienced abuse for shorter durations, and received the most therapy. At follow-up, children who purposely disclosed had greater anxiety and greater difficulties coping. Discussion focuses on ways in which identifying and encouraging the least traumatic methods of disclosure would contribute to better outcomes for victims of sexual abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-147
Number of pages11
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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