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Title: Compassion, shame, and sexual violence experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning young people
Author: Jones, S.
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2019
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Background: Research indicates that LGBTQ+ young people are more likely to experience sexual violence than their heterosexual peers. However, sexual violence experienced by LGBTQ+ young people has not been previously investigated in the UK. Sexual violence is associated with increased shame and psychological distress, whereas compassion may reduce these experiences. Developing understandings of the relationships between shame, compassion, psychological distress and wellbeing could therefore inform clinical practice for this population. Compassionate support from services could also improve LGBTQ+ young people's wellbeing, but LGBTQ+ communities frequently report poor service experiences. Exploring their perspectives of services could facilitate service improvements. Investigating how LGBTQ+ young people make sense of sexual violence may increase understandings of the social conditions which enable sexual violence against them. This avoids situating them as responsible for sexual violence. Aims: To explore the relationships between shame, compassion, psychological distress and wellbeing for LGBTQ+ young people who have experienced sexual violence and the service related factors which impact on them. To explore how LGBTQ+ young people make sense of sexual violence victimisation and experiences with services. To situate the research in a wider context, engaging with sociocultural influences upon LGBTQ+ young people. Methods: A mixed-methods approach was employed to quantitatively examine relationships between shame, compassion, psychological distress and wellbeing using validated measures through an online survey (N=36). Participants' experiences of sexual violence and views of barriers to service use and sexual violence reporting were also investigated through the survey. Seven participants subsequently took part in semi-structured qualitative interviews to discuss sexual violence and the role of services. Results: Self-compassion and shame were significantly associated with psychological wellbeing and distress. Both survey and interview participants highlighted the importance of acceptance and safety in services but reported discriminatory attitudes as a barrier. In the interviews, participants described how stigma and stereotypes enabled the normalisation of sexual violence and victim blaming experiences. Participants' interview accounts also provided insights about how they live and cope with sexual violence. Conclusions: The findings indicate that shame and compassion constructs may be relevant to LGBTQ+ young people's lives in the context of sexual violence experiences. Compassion from services could facilitate feelings of connection and safety but services also need to address structural barriers. Participants' accounts suggest that the normalisation of sexual violence enables victimisation, and that heteronormativity contributes to the marginalisation and invisibility of their experiences. Implications for interventions to address sexual violence experienced by LGBTQ+ young people are explored across individual, service, and wider sociocultural levels.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral