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Kaylee L. Curilla is a 2015 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee

Roger L. Peterson, PhD, ABPP, Committee Chair
Lorraine Mangione, PhD, Committee Member
William Slammon, PhD, Committee Member

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

This qualitative dissertation project explored how young-old adults have healed from the traumatic experience of being sexually abused in childhood. This project utilized an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to analyze themes across the young-old adults’ responses. Data collection consisted of interviewing six participants (age 51-58) who have had a history of child sexual abuse (CSA) from a loved one or other trusted individual and have felt that they have healed and demonstrated resiliency from the experience. Ten general themes emerged: (a) Getting older has helped me develop a better understanding and helped me to become less emotionally reactive; (b) After the abuse, I went through a period in which I felt unworthy and that I was at fault; (c) After the abuse, I went through a period where I was sexually active to fill a void; (d) It is difficult to make meaning out of something so terrible; (e) As a child, I didn’t have anyone who was supportive after the abuse event; (f) As an adult, at least one primary relationship was essential in my healing; (g) Talking about my experience was important in my healing; (h) Finding out “I wasn’t alone” was essential in my healing; (i) Helping others has been essential in my healing process; (j) I’ve experienced typical physical changes as a result of the aging process. Although all participants reported having no one to turn to for support as a child, each participant indicated that at least one primary relationship in adulthood was imperative in their healing. Additionally, each participant indicated that getting older had led them to greater understanding and helped them to become less reactive.

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