Physical Versus Sexual Abuse as Reflected in Adolescents’ Self-Figure Drawings: A Preliminary Study

Rachel Lev-Wiesel, Oren Ramot, Hagar Niv, Einav Daniel, Yoav Gosh, Amir Dahan, Susan Weinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Based on the lack of validated assessment tools to detect past physical or sexual abuse, the current study examines to what extent the experience of either sexual or physical abuse is reflected in self-figure drawings of adolescents at-risk. A convenience sample consists of 93 adolescents at risk between the ages of 12–17 recruited from Welfare institutes divided into three groups: Group 1 included adolescents who experienced sexual abuse, Group 2 included adolescents who experienced physical abuse but not sexual abuse, Group 3 included adolescents who experienced neither sexual abuse nor physical abuse. A self-report anonymous questionnaire that consisted of demographics, traumatic events questionnaire, and the Medical Somatic Dissociation Questionnaire (MSDQ) was administered following Ethical approval and signing of consent forms. Participants were asked to draw themselves on an A4 sheet of paper using a pencil. Five social workers who were unaware of participants’ experiences assessed the drawings independently for the level of obviousness of the following indicators: face line, eyes, nose, ears, hair stand, forehead, lower body, arms, and hands. Results yielded differences in pictorial indicators (nose, hair stand, lower body) among the groups. MSDQ score was found significantly higher among sexually abused victims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-50
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis.


  • Self-figure drawing
  • medical somatic dissociation
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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