European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 389–397

Evaluation of family drawings of physically and sexually abused children

  • Francesca Piperno
  • Stefania Di Biasi
  • Gabriel Levi



The aim of this study is to analyse the family drawings of two groups of physically and/or sexually abused children as compared to the drawings of non-abused children of a matched control group.


The drawings by 12 physically abused, 12 sexually abused and 12 non-abused children, all aged between 5 years-old and 10 years-old, were assessed and compared. Family drawings were analysed using a specific Screening Inventory (FDI-Family Drawing Inventory). This Inventory takes into consideration such qualitative and quantitative variables as the quality of drawing, the children’s perception of their family members and their own perception of themselves within the family system.


The results have shown significant differences between the abused minors and the control group. Abused children are more likely to draw distorted bodies, the human figure is usually represented devoid of details, their drawings generally show clear signals of trauma and the majority of the abused children are likely to exclude their primary caregiver from the drawings.


The “drawings of the family” of physically and/or sexually abused children significantly evidence a greater emotional distress then the drawings of the non-abused children of the matched control group.


abused children sexually physically drawings 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Piperno
    • 1
  • Stefania Di Biasi
    • 2
  • Gabriel Levi
    • 3
  1. 1.Developmental Psychiatry Section, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma and Child Abuse Research GroupUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma and Child Abuse Research GroupUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of Child and Adolescent Neurology and PsychiatryUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”RomeItaly

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