U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Managing the Legal Proceedings: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Sexually Abused Children's Experience with the Legal Process

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 35 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2011 Pages: 50-57
Christina Back; Per A. Gustafsson; IngBeth Larsson; Carina Bertero
Date Published
January 2011
8 pages
This study explored sexually abused children's experiences with the legal process.
The study found that sexually abused children involved in the legal process experienced a feeling of not being believed about their abuse; experienced feelings of anxiety, dread, or even terror when having to describe their abuse; felt they were not given sufficient support from professionals involved in the legal process; believed that treatment/therapy for the perpetrators was important and that imprisonment was desirable; and felt that they had been treated with disrespect by both the lawyers and the media. This study explored sexually abused children's experiences with the legal process, including being questioned by the police during the preliminary investigation, by lawyers and prosecutors in the courtroom, and dealing with other professionals from various agencies. Data were obtained from in-depth face-to-face interviews with 10 adolescents (9 girls and 1 boy) between the ages of 9 and 15 who were victims of child sexual abuse (CSA). The study found that children who are victims of CSA want to be active and equal participants in the legal process, and that the quality of psychological care and support for these children from the legal system needs to be improved. Table and references