Caribbean Journal of Psychology: Vol. 2, Issue 1, 2004

Article 1
Reported Clinical Symptoms in an Adult Sample of Jamaican Sexual Abuse Survivors

Rosemarie A. Johnson
Karla F. Dockery
The University of the West Indies, Mona



Abstract

This study examined the reported clinical symptoms in an adult sample of Jamaican sexual abuse survivors. The study’s 36 participants experienced the abuse before the age of 17 years, with most of the abuse occurring before they were nine years or younger. Participants completed a questionnaire that had three sections that assessed: (1) sexual abuse history and the extent of the abuse; (2) trauma symptom presentation; and (3) a personality disorder screening. The types of abuse experienced by survivors, the symptoms survivors were currently experiencing, and the personality disorder indicators that were evident survivors were examined. Additionally, comparisons in the overall symptoms were done to determine if there were differences in the overall symptom presentation when the perpetrator of the abuse was a biological relative, a family friend, or a stranger. Further comparisons were made to determine if the duration of the abuse affected the degree of symptoms. The results indicated that survivors exhibited many symptoms, the most frequent of which were sexual problems, depression, dissociation, and sleep disturbance. They also exhibited traits and behaviours consistent with all 10 personality disorders, but the most common traits were consistent with Narcissistic, Avoidant, and Borderline Personality disorders. There were also differences in the overall trauma symptom of survivors who were molested by an immediate family member as compared to those abused by a family friend or a stranger. Finally, survivors who experienced abuse occurring over a longer period of time also had greater overall symptoms as compared to those who were molested for a year or less. The findings are discussed in light of previous research and their implications for Jamaican practitioners.