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Title:Coping with child sexual abuse and its meanings: Adult female perspectives
Author(s):Tolentino, Carmina P.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gullerud, Ernest N.
Department / Program:Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Social Work
Women's Studies
Psychology, Clinical
Abstract:This qualitative research explores the process of coping with childhood sexual abuse and the meanings assigned to the abuse by female adult survivors. Using the case study methodology, in-depth interviews were conducted with four self-identified abuse survivors on the ways they have coped with their experience of sexual abuse and its perceived consequences from childhood to the present. Adopting a phenomenological/symbolic interactionist perspective, this dissertation rests on the thesis that survivors cope with childhood sexual abuse according to its meaning for them, and that this meaning is socially constructed. Each participant's retrospective account of their coping process is captured in a case study. Based on the case studies, cross-case assertions regarding the conceptualizations of coping as the survivors have perceived and experienced it are made.
The findings show that meaning shifts occurred in how these women viewed their abuse and that their methods of coping corresponded to the changing meaning. Initially, the abuse meant a threat to their security and absence or lack of control over themselves and their situation. Their early coping processes focused on maintaining safety and gaining control. As they obtained greater cognitive and physical abilities and had increased social interaction, finding and reconstructing the meaning of the abuse became more significant. Eventual recognition and acceptance of a socially constructed meaning for the abuse allowed them to increase self-mastery and achieve a more stable sense of security.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Tolentino, Carmina P.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9543750
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9543750

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