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“How many times did I not want to live a life because of him”: the complex connections between child sexual abuse, disclosure, and self-injurious thoughts and behaviors

Collin-Vézina Delphine, De La Sablonnière-Griffin Mireille, Sivagurunathan Marudan, Lateef Rusan, Alaggia Ramona, McElvaney Rosaleen et Simpson Megan. (2021). “How many times did I not want to live a life because of him”: the complex connections between child sexual abuse, disclosure, and self-injurious thoughts and behaviors. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 8, (1), p. 1-13.

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Background: Meta-analyses have confirmed an association between child sexual abuse (CSA) and non-suicidal and suicidal self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITB), yet the mechanisms linking these factors are, to date, poorly understood. The goal of the current study is to explore one potential influencing factor acting in the association between CSA and SITB, which is the disclosure experience. Disclosure has been identified as a prominent factor in the healing process of survivors, with a lack of support following disclosures heightening negative outcomes. Exploring the impact of CSA disclosure on SITB is necessary to build effective prevention and intervention strategies.

Methods: This qualitative study is part of a larger initiative spanning diverse research sites in Canada and in Ireland and aiming to lend voice to young people who were sexually abused in childhood/adolescence. Participants were recruited from community-based sexual abuse/assault agencies, hospital-based specialized clinics and child advocacy centres. The Long Interview Method, based on a branch of phenomenology, was used to guide research design and data collection. The current thematic analysis, informed by a stress-diathesis model, is based on a sample comprised of 21 ethnically diverse youth aged 15 to 25 who self-reported a sexual abuse experience in their childhood or teenage years and who, as part of the interview on their disclosure processes, revealed past or current SITB.

Results: The thematic analysis led to the identification of four main themes that both confirmed past research and conceptual models on SITB, and provided new insights. Participants perceived a clear link between their CSA experience and SITB and other mental health issues. They offered their views on the meanings of SITB for CSA victims: to cope with abuse; to end the abuse; to express self-hatred and loneliness; and to let people know about their suffering. They described how negative disclosure experiences led to more nonsuicidal and suicidal SITB. Yet, participants also revealed that receiving support for their SITB created opportunities for CSA disclosure and support.

Conclusions: This study showed complex connections between CSA experiences, disclosure and nonsuicidal and suicidal SITB. Understanding the reciprocal influences between SITB, CSA disclosure and help-seeking could better equip mental health professionals and caregivers to provide support and foster healing and recovery in CSA victims.

Type de document:Article publié dans une revue avec comité d'évaluation
Pages:p. 1-13
Version évaluée par les pairs:Oui
Identifiant unique:10.1186/s40479-020-00142-6
Sujets:Sciences sociales et humaines > Sciences sociales
Sciences sociales et humaines > Sciences sociales > Psychologie
Sciences de la santé
Département, module, service et unité de recherche:Départements et modules > Département des sciences de la santé > Module de psychologie
Départements et modules > Département des sciences de la santé > Programmes d'études de cycles supérieurs en psychologie
Mots-clés:Child sexual abuse, disclosure, non-suicidal and suicidal self-injurious thoughts and behaviors, child abuse, sexual, self-injurious behavior, violence sexuelle chez l'enfant, comportement auto-agressif, comportement suicidaire
Déposé le:12 avr. 2021 19:33
Dernière modification:12 avr. 2021 19:33
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