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J Child Sex Abus. 2017 May-Jun;26(4):465-486. doi: 10.1080/10538712.2017.1297880.

"I Felt Like I Was Being Abused All Over Again": How Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Make Sense of the Perinatal Period Through Their Narratives.

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a Clinical Psychology Department , Plymouth University , Plymouth , United Kingdom.
b Clinical Psychology Department , Devon Partnership NHS Trust , Devon , United Kingdom.


Sequelae following child sexual abuse pervade the lives of adult survivors, significantly impacting on pregnancy and childbirth. Symptoms of this distress are recognized, but meanings for women are less understood. This research aimed to examine the meaning for women themselves of the impact of child sexual abuse on experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period. Taking a critical feminist perspective, three open-ended interviews with three survivors enabled women's narratives of pregnancy and childbirth to be heard, explored the structure of these narratives, including how experiences were connected, and identified key themes and how selves and others were positioned. Women themselves contributed to the analysis of their own narratives. The different struggles of each woman occurred within three domains of experience: identity, embodiment, and parenting. They were underpinned by a fluctuation between empowerment and disempowerment. These findings, although based on detailed analysis of the experiences of only three women, dovetail with, integrate, and extend the existent literature, offering a framework for understanding the complexity of meaning making for women. Further research might develop this. The framework may facilitate clinicians' understandings of what it is like for some women having children who have experienced child sexual abuse.


Childbirth; child sexual abuse; narrative analysis; parenting; perinatal; pregnancy; trauma; women

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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