A narrative exploration of the sense of self of women recovering from childhood sexual abuse
Design: A retrospective qualitative study.
Method: Four women with CSA experiences, who completed a local sexual abuse intervention group programme, participated in the study. They were interviewed using a narrative life story approach and a narrative analysis was conducted on the data.
Results: Participants had a ‘traumatised self’ characterised by shame and guilt, leading to self-perceptions of being insignificant and undeserving. After intervention, an overall positive sense of self resulted characterised by an increased sense of self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-confidence. This was enhanced by being able to externalise their abuse and to shift the responsibility of the abuse from the abused to the abuser. Self-control was gained through the use of effective coping strategies. Being part of a group with similar experiences was found to enhance feelings of solidarity and commonality and instilled a sense of optimism about the future.
Conclusions: After therapy, the concept of sense of self evolved from a traumatised self to a more enduring positive sense of self. The participants made self-improvements, connections with people and were able to live autonomous lives.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Devon Partnership NHS Trust, Wonford House Hospital, Exeter, UK 2: Natural Science and Public Health, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, PO Box 4783, The United Arab Emirates 3: South Devon Health Care NHS Trust, Torbay Hospital, Torquay, UK
Publication date: June 1, 2011