Legal and Social Issues Research Lab

CPA 2005


Cross-cultural differences in the definition of emotional abuse

Karen Ip, Nadia M. Romito, M. Alexis Kennedy, & Boris B. Gorzalka

Emotional abuse has been described as the “core” issue in child maltreatment as it is inherent in all types of child abuse and it connects the cognitive, affective and interpersonal problems related to sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect (Brassard, Hart & Hardy, 1993). Consensus that emotional abuse is the concept that unifies and aggravates other forms of abuse is relatively new, thus thorough explorations of emotional abuse are lacking (Kent & Waller, 1998). Studies of emotional abuse within Asian communities are relatively rare and information is often only tangential to a focus on physical discipline. The purpose of this study was to compare definition of emotional abuse to a personal history of having experienced emotional abuse. Eighteen hundred ethnically diverse undergraduates from the University of British Columbia were surveyed using the Child Abuse and Trauma scale (Sanders and Becker-Lausen, 1995). Ethnicity proved to be a significant predictor of perceptions of emotional abuse above and beyond the effects of having personally experienced emotional abuse. The utility of considering the ethnic context of emotional abuse will be discussed, particularly taking into account the Asian parenting tenets of filial piety.

Cross-cultural differences in assigning blame for sexual assault

Karen Ip, Meera Balasubramaniam, M. Alexis Kennedy, & Boris B. Gorzalka

Previous research has demonstrated that participants of Asian descent are more conservative about sexuality and more tolerant of coercive sexuality as measured through the acceptance of rape myths and sexual harassment (Kennedy & Gorzalka, 2002). This study looks specifically at ethnic differences in attribution of blame on the victim of a sexual assault. Eighteen hundred ethnically diverse students from the University of British Columbia were surveyed. To measure attribution of blame, 6 sexual assault scenarios were presented to participants. The current study modified the rape scenarios used by Stacy, Prisbell, & Tollesfdrud (1992) by including common first names for the victims and offenders to create a more personally relevant scenario. Significant ethnic differences were found for attribution of blame. These differences were significant above and beyond the effects of gender, experiencing childhood sexual abuse or being a victim of sexual assault.