Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Donna J. Habenicht

Second Advisor

Fonda L. Chaffee

Third Advisor

Selma A. Chaij


Problem. There is a current need to understand and help the female adolescent victim of intrafamilial sexual abuse. The purpose of the study was to identify her personality profile, gain information about her self-esteem, and discover her view of self within her family.

Method. The High School Personality Questionnaire, the Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale, and the Kinetic Family Drawing were administered to 40 female adolescent incest victims from Michigan to identify a personality profile, level, and factors of self-esteem, and a description of the self within the family. The data were analyzed by univariate, multivariate, and discriminant analysis.

Results. (1) There is a significant difference between the personality profile of female adolescent incest victims and normal adolescents. The victims have low drive; are withdrawn, shy, expedient, guilt-prone, aggressive, and reality oriented. (2) The victims have significantly lower self-esteem than the Piers-Harris norms for female adolescents. (3) The victims are significantly lower in happiness and satisfaction than the normal adolescent, yet is higher in feelings about intellectual and school status and physical appearance and attributes. (4) The Kinetic Family Drawing of the female adolescent incest victims showed: parents not interacting with each other, separate individual activities, barriers between figures, isolation of the self, anxiety factors, mother-daughter problems, similar treatment of figures, omission of feet and other body parts, aggressive factors (father), and sexual themes.

Conclusions. The findings in this study indicate that intrafamilial sexual abuse does have a significant impact on the personality, self-esteem, and family orientation of the female adolescent incest victim. Learned helplessness theory and the cycle of violence theory appear to explain much of what is happening to the adolescent. The study provides implications for therapy and suggests future research.

Subject Area

Incest victims, Teenage girls, Sexually abused children

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