Reports of traumatic sexualisation in a group of female survivors of childhood sexual abuse
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The main aim of this study was to explore what is known from literature and practice about traumatic sexualisation in a group of South African women, who had experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and who participated in the Survivor to Thriver (S2T) collaborative strengths-based group-intervention programme for women survivors of CSA. The current study was conducted in two phases using exploratory qualitative research with Finkelhor and Browne’s traumagenic dynamics as a conceptual framework. During phase I, a scoping literature review of sixty-six studies was conducted. Thematic analysis of the studies identified in the scoping literature review revealed three main themes describing how traumatic sexualisation presented in women survivors of CSA, namely negative sexual association, negative body image and distorted sexual development. These three themes support the findings of Finkelhor and Browne’s framework in their categorisation of traumatic sexualisation. However, two additional sub-themes were identified in the literature on women survivors of CSA, namely hiding the feminine self / body harm (categorised under negative body image) and self-capacity disturbances (categorised under distorted sexual development). Hereafter qualitative interviews comprising of a focus-group discussion and two semi-structured interviews were conducted with six helping professionals working within the scope of CSA with female survivors in order to obtain input and/or identify any additional emerging themes of traumatic sexualisation. During these qualitative interviews the above findings were confirmed with no additional themes being reported. In phase II, qualitative secondary analysis (QSA) was conducted using two sets of data collected during treatment sessions (N=16) of the S2T collaborative strengths-based group-intervention programme. All the traumatic sexualisation themes that were identified during the scoping literature review were found within the datasets. However, one additional sub-theme, namely distorted view of males, was found and could be categorised under the main theme of distorted sexual development. Future research is recommended to verify and expand the findings of this study, so as to inform treatment interventions for CSA survivors - especially within the South African context.
- Humanities