Childhood Sexual Abuse Narratives in Clinically and Nonclinically Distressed Adult Survivors

Trisha Leahy, Grace Pretty, Gershon Tenenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Understanding the complex dynamics involved in sexual abuse trauma is of central importance to clinicians working with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. In this study 20 volunteer participants formed 2 gender-balanced groups differentiated by clinical (vs. nonclinical) levels of distress. A negative case analysis revealed group differences in participants' perceptions of the impact of the abuse, meaning attributions for the abuse, and social support experiences. Resolving traumatic attachment to the perpetrator may be the core therapeutic task complicating the process of reclaiming trust, expressing grief and anger, and developing empowered meaning attributions. Successful negotiation of the complex pathways to recovery requires a therapeutic environment free from countertransferential errors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-665
Number of pages9
JournalProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


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