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Overlaps Between Domestic Violence and Incestuous Sexual Abuse:  Implications for Advocates and South Asian Women’s Organizations

Author:  Grace Poore.

Source: Volume 04, Number 02, Fall 2011 , pp.103-112(10)

Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly

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It is commonly understood that domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other traumatic interpersonal dynamics have multi-generational effects. Children who are abused are more likely than non-abused children to become abusive toward their own offspring when they are adults. What is less obvious is the correlation between child sexual abuse and intimate partner abuse; in reality, men who batter their wives are also more likely to sexually abuse their children. Even less commonly known is the fact that children living with domestic violence are at especially high risk of sexual victimization if their own mothers have been sexually abused during childhood. As Grace Poore points out in this article, this may be tied to the faulty coping styles that child victims adopt in order to cope with the utterly helpless situation in which they find themselves. As adults, these victims tend to rely on the same maladaptive coping tactics—e.g., avoidance, hypervigilance, minimization, dissociation, accommodation, etc.—in their interactions with intimate others. During adulthood, these dysfunctional mechanisms may hinder them from recognizing and responding to abuse that may be infl icted on their own children by their partners. Although this article focuses specifically on domestic violence occurring in South Asian families living in the U.S., its descriptions match those found in non-Asian populations residing in this country.

Keywords:  Domestic violence; incest; harmful responses; strategies of abuse; family dynanmics; effects of incest and abuse on survivors; mitigating strategies

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