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Institutional Abuse of Children in the Austrian Catholic Church: Types of Abuse and Impact on Adult Survivors' Current Mental Health

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2014 Pages: 52-64
Brigitte Lueger-Schuster; Viktoria Kantor; Dina Weindl; Matthias Knefel; Yvonne Moy; Asisa Butollo; Reinhold Jagsch; Tobias Gluck
Date Published
January 2014
13 pages
This examination of the institutional abuse of children (n=448) by representatives of the Austrian Catholic Church addressed the nature and scope of the abuse, as well as the current mental health of a sample (n=185) of adult survivors.
The sample reported a diversity of abusive physical, sexual, and emotional victimizations by representatives of the Austrian Catholic Church. The majority of adult survivors (83.3 percent) reported experiencing emotional abuse. Rates of sexual abuse (68.8 percent) and physical abuse (68.3 percent) were also high. The majority (84.9 percent) of adult survivors in the sample reported clinically significant psychopathological symptoms on at least one of the scales of the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and/or the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL-C). The analysis controlled for risk factors in the survivors' childhoods prior to the institutional abuse. Although many pre-existing risk factors and other stressful conditions prior to the institutional abuse were reported, the individual factors reported were generally rare and not specifically predictive for later PTSD symptoms after the abuse. Future research on such institutional abuse should also address factors related to the age of disclosure, to whom the maltreatment was reported, and the cognitive development of the victim at the time of the abuse. More attention must be given to the prevention of such institutional abuse and the structure and conditions under which it occurs. In addition, special attention should be given to the development of support services for survivors of institutional abuse. 4 tables and 66 references