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Title:Women's Experiences Disclosing and Dealing With a History of Childhood Sexual Abuse in Close Relationships
Author(s):Ebert, Lori
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fitzgerald, Louise F.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Abstract:This study sought to empirically specify the range of responses that are helpful and unhelpful to women and girls in disclosing and dealing with a history of childhood sexual abuse in their relationships with relatives, romantic partners, and friends. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 42 women, all community volunteers, who had experienced sexual abuse in childhood. The most and least helpful responses encountered by the participants in 219 disclosure incidents were assessed---a total of 1,221 responses. The responses were recorded in narrative form, transcribed, and coded into behaviorally specific categories. Despite the emphasis on childhood disclosures in prior studies, over 80% of the disclosures in this study occurred in adult relationships. Overall, helpful responses predominated, with 61% of the behaviors identified viewed as helpful by the participants in their immediate or long-term effects. The majority of the responses assessed in prior studies evaluating reactions to abuse disclosures were included in the coding categories; however, the categories also included additional responses to the consequences of the abuse that had not been previously assessed. In general, the women saw relatives, partners, and friends as helping them to cope with and resolve the continuing effects of the abuse. The majority of this assistance reflected some form of emotional support, including behaviors broadly supporting the participants' efforts to deal with the effects of the abuse and behaviors that specifically facilitated talking about those effects. The women, however, also described unhelpful responses to the consequences of the abuse, including criticism of the participant's emotional reactions to the abuse or her approach to dealing with those reactions. Prior research on social responses to women reporting sexual abuse in childhood has focused primarily on reactions to disclosures of the abuse occurring in childhood. These findings suggest that experiences dealing with the consequences of childhood sexual abuse in adult relationships may also be of significance to women abuse survivors.
Issue Date:1999
Description:284 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1999.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9953006
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1999

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