No way to run or hide: Children's perceptions of their responses during intrafamilial child sexual abuse

Carmit Katz*, Noga Tsur, Racheli Nicolet, Bella Klebanov, Nir Carmel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Child maltreatment (CM) has received much research attention in recent years, leading to substantial development of relevant child services worldwide. The literature on posttraumatic stress accentuates the long-term mental and physical ramifications of peritraumatic responses. However, although CM is considered a traumatic experience, examinations of child responses to CM have rarely been attempted. Objective: The current study spotlights children's responses during intrafamilial child sexual abuse (IFCSA), as conveyed by them during forensic interviews. Participants and setting: The sample is comprised of 40 transcripts of forensic interviews with children aged 4–14, who have been sexually abused by their fathers. Methods: The exploration of the children's responses to the abuse was guided by the grounded theory approach and their narratives were thematically analyzed. Results: Indicate that when children contend with ongoing and severe IFCSA, they tend to develop alternative survival strategies, understanding that fight, flight, or disclosure are not relevant options for them. Conclusion: The discussion stresses the multifaceted nature of the way children respond during IFCSA, which should be understood through holistic observation of the children and various aspects of their lives. The children's responses profoundly shape their abuse experiences and require further exploration so as to promote both intervention and prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104541
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Children
  • Forensic interview
  • Intrafamilial child sexual abuse (IFCSA)
  • Response
  • Trauma


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