Childhood sexual abuse and sexuality, a group approach for women sexually abused as children

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Hayes, Joan Linda
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Childhood sexual abuse has a profound effect on the way in which women and men view their sexuality. Often, women in my practice identify issues related to sexuality. The confusion they experience regarding relationships, intimacy and sex cause a great deal of turmoil and pain in their lives. The sexual victimization that they have suffered and survived has left its mark. It is about the essence of their very being, about who they are as women, about how they project their womanhood onto the world and how they distort and become ashamed of their femaleness. It is with this in mind and through feedback from women who are survivors, that I decided to offer a twelve week closed group to women, that focused on the effects childhood sexual abuse has on sexuality. This report explores the effects that childhood sexual abuse has on women's sexuality. The purpose of the report is to describe the group process and evaluate the effectiveness of this model in helping survivors understand the impact that sexual abuse has on their attitudes and beliefs about sexuality. Women in the group explored issues related to sexual and non-sexual relationships and intimacy. Through the group process and results from questionnaires I was able to identify some themes and make some observations. However, I do not expect that the results of this study are conclusive or final nor can I predict how other women in future groups will respond to a group of this nature.