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Title: Survivors of female perpetrated sexual abuse and their experiences of disclosure
Author: Clements, Hannah K.
Awarding Body: University of Lincoln
Current Institution: University of Lincoln
Date of Award: 2013
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Overview Female Perpetrated Sexual Abuse (FPSA) remains a largely under-studied and poorly understood phenomenon, despite its growing prevalence. Traditional gender constructions in relation to victimisation and perpetration as ‘gendered’, may be stifling its recognition, and the recognition of those affected. Survivor’s perspectives on disclosure are crucial, given its known under-reporting, and how many people feel silenced. As research on FPSA is in its relative infancy, understanding the process of disclosing is particularly important in influencing professional and social change, and progression. Method Fourteen participants of equal gender distribution, who self identified as having been sexually abused in childhood by a female, were recruited online. The study was advertised via online survivor communities, survivor charities and forums supporting survivors. Participants were directed to a website designed by the Researcher outlining the study in its entirety. Participants then offered their consent to participation and contacted the researcher via the website. Telephone interviews were arranged and conducted with participants meeting eligibility, using a qualitative semi-structured interview protocol. Interviews were transcribed and systematically analysed using a qualitative methodology applying an Inductive Thematic Analysis approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Results Four super-ordinate themes relating to participants disclosing sexual abuse by a female were discussed, with one being a central and over-arching theme ‘Perceptions of Gender and Disclosure’, which influenced the three further themes; Perceptions of Gender and Disclosure; consisting of ‘social attitudes’, ‘gender roles’, ‘barrier to recognition’ and ‘barrier to disclosure’ o Decisions to Disclose; consisting of ‘relationship with the perpetrator’, ‘making sense of the experience’, effects of abuse’ and ‘readiness’ o Process of Disclosure; consisting of ‘experiences of services’, ‘contexts of disclosing’ and ‘nature of disclosure’ o Experiences of Disclosure; consisting of ‘perceived professional responses’ and ‘impact of perceived professional responses’. Conclusions Constructions of gender and narrow views of ‘perpetration’ and ‘victimisation’ appear to be stifling personal, professional and social recognition of FPSA. This lack of awareness and perceived cultural denial may be silencing survivors, and restricting their ability to disclose and process their experiences. The impact of gender appears to be two-fold and future research would benefit from exploring disclosure of FPSA for males and females exclusively, as their experiences and needs may greatly differ. The value of involving survivors in educating professionals and in widening awareness is discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: C840 Clinical Psychology