Does Childhood Incest Impair Identity Formation in Women?

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Does Childhood Incest Impair Identity Formation in Women? Yvonne E. Fernandez Pacific Oaks College HD541-1P / Professor Greer-Jarman April 25, 2012 Abstract This paper reviews research on the long-term effects of child incest trauma in women to determine its impact on identity formation. When incest occurs during latency, the effects of the derailment of current and subsequent developmental stages reverberate through the life of the child, negatively impacting the identity and personality of the adult. In effect, the trauma of incest murders the adult the child would have become. This paper does not discuss treatments or other remedies. It is intended only to overview the struggle to achieve identity and empowerment of women that happen to survive the trauma of ongoing childhood incest. Does Childhood Incest Impair Identity Formation in Women? Although some survivors of childhood sexual abuse appear to emerge unscathed, others succumb to death, drugs, institutions or chronic depression and/or inability to thrive as adults. To those that experienced normal development, child incest might be an unpleasant theoretical concept or a disturbing news story that is soon forgotten. To the many women that experience and somehow survive its horrific challenges, child incest is responsible for the murder of the person she might have become. This paper will review existing literature on childhood sexual abuse and consider the following questions: 1. What are the long-term implications of childhood sexual abuse? 2. Is there a difference between childhood sexual abuse and incest? 3. How does incest impact identity and personality formation? 4. What are implications of incest on identity observed in women survivors of incest? What Are the Long-Term Implications of Childhood Sexual Abuse? Studies emerging in the late 1980s indicate that

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