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Title: Gender role and sexuality in male survivors of childhood sexual abuse
Author: Lewis, H.
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2018
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Major life crises or traumatic events are frequently experienced as uncontrollable, overwhelming and significantly distressing. A sense of safety and predictability in the world is somewhat destabilised for victims of trauma as they struggle to make sense of the event. Whilst some go on to recover from trauma naturally, often many people experience long-term consequences. (van der Kolk, 2003). For decades, the impact of trauma has widely been associated with negative psychological consequences such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which was introduced as a clinical diagnosis following the delayed reactions of Vietnam veterans (APA, 1980). However, in recent years, there is growing investigation into the notion that there is personal gain to be found in suffering and, in fact, that traumatic life events can facilitate positive life change for some people. This has been coined as Post Traumatic Growth (PTG); positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). However, it is suggested that opportunity for PTG, largely depends on individual perspectives and personality variables (Helgeson, Reynolds, & Tomich, 2006). This thesis is interested in the trauma responses of adult males who have experienced child sexual abuse (CSA). More specifically, in relation to their sense of male gender role identity and sexuality. Child sexual abuse can have long term profound effects on male victims (Walker, Archer, & Davies, 2005). In particular, males can struggle with their sense of masculinity and sexuality due to societal stereotypes that one should be strong and be able to physically resist a perpetrator (Javiad, 2015). Many male survivors blame themselves for not protecting themselves and, as a result, experience sexuality and gender role crises (Davies, Walker, Archer, & Pollard, 2010). However, it is recognised that opportunity for male survivors to experience PTG following CSA may be evident given research has found evidence of this for some female survivors of sexual victimisation (Stige, Binder, Rosenvinge, & TrÆen, 2013). In recent years there has been growing publicity in the area of male survivors, perhaps due recent exposure of high profile cases in the media (Alaggia & Mishna, 2014). However, there remains a scarcity of empirical research to provide insight into the lived experiences of male survivors. The systematic review (chapter 1) aimed to evaluate the qualitative literature that explored the impact of CSA on male survivors' gender role and sexuality. A systematic approach to identifying and screening empirical research enabled comprehensive coverage of the topic area. By synthesising the evidence, themes were derived to provide a narrative of male survivors identity experiences following CSA. Whilst negative experiences of masculinity and sexuality were evident, it was identified that further research using diversified samples of male survivors was warranted to strengthen the conclusions. The empirical paper (chapter 2) focused on the PTG experiences of male survivors. Third sector male survivor organisations supported the research and facilitated recruitment of male survivors who had experienced positive change following CSA. Male survivors generously provided rich interviews of their PTG experiences. Themes emerged that detailed the key processes involved in the redevelopment of their gender role and sexuality, contributing to the vital gap in the literature.
Supervisor: Kiemle, Gundi Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral