CRIPCAS programming focuses on sexual abuse and intimate relationship problems, social issues that are recognized as priorities at the provincial level (Government Strategy to Prevent and Counter Sexual Violence 2016-2021, Government Action Plan on Domestic Violence 2018 -2023), the national level (Canada's Strategy to Prevent and Counter Gender-based Violence, 2017) and at the international level (WHO Global Campaign for Violence Prevention, 2012-2020). While each of these themes poses complex research questions in and of themselves, one of the ambitions of CRIPCAS researchers is to examine the interrelations in order to make a unique contribution to the understanding of these two issues. Our recent studies have shown that: (1) sexual abuse and co-occurrence of abuse (abuse, neglect) affect the development of children who are victims of abuse and (2) into adulthood, they are at risk of presenting difficulties in dating and intimate relationships, as well as physical and psychological health problems.
Intimate relationship problems
North American population studies reveal that 50% of marriages break down and 30% of long-term marriages report significant marital distress. Our Quebec studies converge on the presence of violence from the first romantic relationships. While the quality of intimate relationships is a crucial predictor of quality of life at a later age, relationships are more than ever undermined by multiple factors. Intimate relationship problems often precede or accentuate the development of a range of difficulties (e.g. mental, physical, financial) and are linked to a range of deleterious effects on children; these chaotic environments increase the risk of abuse, including sexual abuse.
Our studies are consistent with global statistics suggesting that 20% of women and 8% of men will be sexually abused before they reach adulthood. However, the prevalence of sexual abuse remains underestimated, since it is often underreported as recently observed by the wave #moiaussi #metoo. Yet the repercussions for the victims are multiple and, without intervention, persist in adulthood and have serious relational consequences (sexual difficulties, violence in relationships, revictimization). Our work highlights the trajectories through which these issues develop from childhood to adulthood.