A salutogenic approach to healing following child sexual assault

Vilenica, Sheryle & Shakespeare-Finch, Jane E. (2012) A salutogenic approach to healing following child sexual assault. In Kalfoğlu, E. & Faikoğlu, R. (Eds.) Sexual Abuse : Breaking the Silence. INTECH Open Access Publisher, Rijeka, Croatia, pp. 33-56.

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Decades of research has now produced a rich description of the destruction child sexual assault (CSA) can cause in an individual’s life. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Dissociative Identity Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, depression, anxiety, Panic Disorder, intimacy issues, substance abuse, self-harm, and suicidal ideation and attempts, are some of the negative outcomes that have been attributed to this type of traumatic experience. Psychology's tendency to dwell within a pathological paradigm, along with popular media who espouse a similar rhetoric, would lead to the belief that once exposed to CSA, an individual is forever at the mercy of dealing with a massive array of accompanying negative effects. While the possibility of these outcomes in those who have experienced CSA is not at all denied, it is also timely to consider an alternative paradigm that up until now has received a paucity of attention in the sexual assault literature. That is to say, not only do people have the ability to work through the painful and personal impacts of CSA, but for some people the process of recovery may provide a catalyst for positive life changes that have been termed post-traumatic growth (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1995).

To begin with in this chapter, the negative sequale’ of childhood sexual assault it discussed initially. Inherent to this discussion are questions of measurement and definitions of sexual assault. The chapter highlights ways in which the term CSA has been defined and hence operationalised in research, and the myriad problems, confusions, and inconclusive findings that have plagued the sexual assault literature. Following this is a review of the sparse literature that has conceptualised CSA from a more salutogenic (Antonovsky, 1979) theoretical orientation. It is argued that a salutogenic approach to intervention and to research in this area, provides a more useful way of promoting healing and the gaining of wisdom, but importantly does not negate the very real distress that may accompany growth. This chapter will then present a case study to elucidate the theoretical and empirical literature discussed using the words of a survivor. Finally, the chapter concludes with implications for therapeutic practice, which includes some practical ways in which to promote adaptation to life within the context of having survived this insidious crime.

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ID Code: 58189
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: sexual abuse, healing, therapy, trauma
DOI: 10.5772/28709
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 INTECH Open Access Publisher
Deposited On: 13 Mar 2013 23:39
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2015 22:27

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