Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Smith, L. Glenn (Leonard Glenn), 1939-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Police psychology--Illinois; Police--Job stress--Illinois; Child abuse--Investigation--Illinois


This study was conducted to examine the extent to which youth investigators and forensic child abuse interviewers demonstrate signs of vicarious traumatization as a result of investigating child sexual abuse and whether their experiences cause life-affecting transformation. Participants were active youth investigators, former youth investigators, and forensic interviewers from the northwest suburban area of Chicago, Illinois. Fifteen officers and interviewers spoke openly about their specific job assignments and the stress surrounding their work with child sexual abuse. Participants spoke about their most horrific sexual abuse investigation(s), relationships, supervisors and agencies, spirituality, and world views. The results indicate that participants did exhibit signs of vicarious trauma: hypervigilance, symptomatic reactions, relationship problems, lack of communication through denial, repression, isolation and disassociation, change in world views and a loss of sense of meaning (spirituality). Participants also reported that their experiences transformed their lives permanently. As a result, new perspectives, new beliefs, and coping strategies emerged. Participants who were most distant from the repeated exposure were more open in their acknowledgment of the effects and more readily able to critically reflect on their experiences. The study ends with a call for vicarious trauma being recognized within the law enforcement profession and suggests that future research and education can provide law enforcement with intervention programs that focus on identification and prevention of the effects of repeated exposure to human pain and destructiveness. The implications for the field of adult education and human resource development are necessary for program design, training, and counseling.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [136]-145)


xiv, 145 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type