Couples Therapy for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

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As many as one in three females have experienced sexual abuse by the age of 18 (Russell, 1986). Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) experience negative psychological symptoms (Browne & Finkelhor, 1986; Kendall-Tackett, Williams, L. M., & Finkelhor, 1993). These women may later in life engage in relationships. The negative impact of sexual abuse could result in challenges faced by the relationship due to shame and difficulty with trust (Kochka & Carolan, 2002; MacIntosh & Johnson, 2008). CSA may also result in sexual challenges for the couple (Kochka & Carolan, 2002). Research has found that couples therapy can be of significance to the healing of the CSA survivor as well as functioning and growth in the relationship (Kochka & Carolan, 2002; Hunt-Amos, Bischoff, & Pretorius, 2004; MacIntosh & Johnson, 2008). The purpose of this literature review is to examine the issues that arise in heterosexual couples as a result of childhood sexual abuse experienced by the female partner, and the challenges and opportunities available to them through couples counseling. It is important for therapists to be aware of issues related to past sexual abuse for couples who seek therapy (Feinauer, 1989). By reviewing previous research based literature on sexual abuse and the effects it has on survivors and their relationships, this is made possible. From quantitative, as well as qualitative studies, findings and relationship with previous research are discussed in this review. A study published in 1989 by Leslie L. Feinauer explored the sexual functioning of female CSA survivors who thought themselves to be adjusted to the sexual trauma and compared it to survivors who did not identify as being adjusted to it. Fifty-seven non clinical w... ... middle of paper ... ...hor, D. (1986). Impact of child sexual abuse: A review of the research. Psychological Bulletin, 99(1), 66-77. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.99.1.66 Feinauer, L. L. (1989). Sexual dysfunction in women sexually abused as children. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 11(4), 299-309. Kochka, P., & Carolan, M. (2002). Alliance protection: The influence of childhood sexual abuse memories on couple dynamics. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 1(4), 59-71. MacIntosh, H. B., & Johnson, S. (2008). Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples and Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 34(3), 298-315. Hunt-Amos, S., Bischoff, R. J., & Pretorius, R. (2004). The Husband's Experience of His Wife's Childhood Sexual Abuse: An Exploratory Study and Implications for Couple therapy. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 3(4), 1-21.
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