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“It’s not a great boulder, it’s just a piece of baggage” : older women's reflections on healing from childhood sexual abuse Katie Graham, Tess Patterson, Tonya Justice and Charlene Rapsey

By: Graham, Katie.
Contributor(s): Patterson, Tess | Justice, Tonya | Rapsey, Charlene.
Material type: materialTypeLabelArticleSeries: Journal of Interpersonal Violence.Publisher: Sage, 2022Subject(s): ADULT SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE | ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES | CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE | DISCLOSURE | HEALING | LONGITUDINAL STUDIES | MENTAL HEALTH | OLDER WOMEN | Otago Women's Health Study | RESILIENCE | TRAUMA | VICTIM/SURVIVORS' VOICES | WOMEN | NEW ZEALANDOnline resources: DOI: 10.1177/0886260520916270 In: Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2022, 37(1-2): 705-725Summary: In this study, we explored older women’s reflections on processes of healing related to childhood sexual abuse (CSA). We aimed to answer questions about how childhood trauma was integrated into the life story and to identify factors or coping strategies that aided, or hindered, healing. Participants within this study included 12 women who were aged 60 or older and had reported CSA as adults at the beginning of the research project, 25 years prior. Qualitative interviews were conducted exploring women’s reflections on the place of CSA in their lives over time and factors the participants thought were helpful or unhelpful in being able to come to terms with the abuse. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis, which resulted in three themes related to processes of healing. The themes identified were need for resolution, thinking about it differently, and developing agency over disclosure. The findings show that some form of resolution was needed for the women to recover and move on from their experiences of CSA. The two key strategies used to reach this resolution were reframing their experience or drawing upon positive life philosophies. Decisions around disclosure were also an important part of the healing process, with the women developing an agency over if, and how, they talked to people about their experience. Those women who were not able to make sense of their experience continued to be influenced by the negative feelings and memories associated with the experience. Our findings have implications for health professionals working with those who have experienced trauma. They demonstrate that there are a number of ways that people heal from trauma and find personal resolution across their lifespan. (Authors' abstract). Record #7412
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Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2022, 37(1-2): 705-725

In this study, we explored older women’s reflections on processes of healing related to childhood sexual abuse (CSA). We aimed to answer questions about how childhood trauma was integrated into the life story and to identify factors or coping strategies that aided, or hindered, healing. Participants within this study included 12 women who were aged 60 or older and had reported CSA as adults at the beginning of the research project, 25 years prior. Qualitative interviews were conducted exploring women’s reflections on the place of CSA in their lives over time and factors the participants thought were helpful or unhelpful in being able to come to terms with the abuse. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis, which resulted in three themes related to processes of healing. The themes identified were need for resolution, thinking about it differently, and developing agency over disclosure. The findings show that some form of resolution was needed for the women to recover and move on from their experiences of CSA. The two key strategies used to reach this resolution were reframing their experience or drawing upon positive life philosophies. Decisions around disclosure were also an important part of the healing process, with the women developing an agency over if, and how, they talked to people about their experience. Those women who were not able to make sense of their experience continued to be influenced by the negative feelings and memories associated with the experience. Our findings have implications for health professionals working with those who have experienced trauma. They demonstrate that there are a number of ways that people heal from trauma and find personal resolution across their lifespan. (Authors' abstract). Record #7412