The Secret of Intrafamilial Child Sexual Abuse: Who Keeps It and How?

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This article analyzes how women survivors of intrafamilial child sexual abuse perceive the family members who took part in keeping it secret and their tactics for doing so. Analysis of 20 in-depth interviews with Jewish Israeli women revealed unique ways of guarding the secret. These were attributed to the perpetrator, the mother and the family. Secret-keeping tactics included presenting a normative public identity or an unstable psychological identity, presenting multiple personas, reframing the abuse, concealing any trace of the secret after it was disclosed, as if the abuse had never happened, and making a monument of the abuser. These tactics are discussed in the context of silencing, the interpersonal relations orientation model, and the wider concepts of secrecy in society. Implications for professional practice and for society are considered, and new attitudes toward intrafamilial child sexual abuse secrecy are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Taylor & Francis.


  • Child sexual abuse
  • adult survivors
  • disclosure
  • family relationships
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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