Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


The purpose of this content analysis was to determine how the characters who are victims of sexual abuse are portrayed in young adult literature. This study examined the characteristics of the child who has been sexually abused, the abuser, and the home structure of the victim.

Eleven novels, published and reviewed since 1980, were analyzed for content. The researcher used standard recommending journals and bibliographies to identify possible novels for analysis. Books selected had a focus on sexual abuse.

The researcher found incest to be the main type of sexual abuse in 64% of the novels. The majority of the victims portrayed in the novels were female between the ages of 12 to 14 years. Ninty-one percent of the victims were molested by the sexual abuser in the novels and many of the characters experienced more than one type of sexual abuse.

The researcher also studied the characteristics of the sexual abuser. A persuasive personality was present in 73% of the sexual abuser characters. The abuser character also used authority over the victim to gain compliance in 82% of the novels.

The majority of the sexual abuse victims lived in a traditional family, but the mother displayed a weak role in the family structure. A majority of the victims were believed when they reported the sexual abuse to either a family member or close friend.

The consequences the abuser experienced differed greatly in each novel. There was a lack of consistency in punishment or therapy for the abuser or victim portrayed in the novels.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Library Science

First Advisor

Leah Hiland


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (iii, 95 pages)