This dissertation presents a qualitative study of how women come to terms with abusive childhood sexual experiences. In in-depth interviews, five women described how they have come to terms and the ways in which their experiences of sexual abuse influenced their identities, their relationships with others, and their embodiment. The data were analyzed using the Voice-Centered Relational Method—more recently known as The Listening Guide—developed by Carol Gilligan and Lynn Brown (1992); following this method, the transcripts of the interviews were read through four times, listening for plot, identity ("I" voice), and two contrapuntal voices. The four listenings allowed for a multilayered approach to understanding how the women have come to terms. A multiplicity of voices emerged both within and across participants, with voices of guilt, innocence, betrayal, protection, avoidance, engagement, victim, agency, disembodiment, and empowerment identified. The ways in which the contrapuntal voices overlapped with one another and with the participants' identities were explored. Results suggest that coming to terms with childhood experiences of sexual abuse is a nuanced and ongoing process. Implications, including the importance of allowing women to label and describe their own unique experiences, were explored; the nebulousness of the phrase "sexual abuse" and the suggestions for a more subtle understanding of a continuum of experiences were also explored. Ideas for further research in this area of sexual abuse are suggested.
|Commitee:||Adams, Will, Fischer, Constance|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-B 73/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Womens studies, Psychology, Clinical psychology|
|Keywords:||Abusive childhood, Identity, Listening guide, Qualitative, Sexual abuse, Sexual experiences|
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