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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Jan 8;15(1). pii: E94. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15010094.

Screaming Body and Silent Healthcare Providers: A Case Study with a Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivor.

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School of Health Sciences, University of Akureyri, 600 Akureyri, Iceland.
School of Health Sciences, University of Akureyri, 600 Akureyri, Iceland.


Stressful early life experiences cause immune dysregulation across the lifespan. Despite the fact that studies have identified childhood sexual abuse (CSA) survivors as a particularly vulnerable group, only a few attempts have been made to study their lived-experience of the physical health consequences of CSA. The aim of this study was to explore a female CSA survivor's lived-experience of the physical health consequences of CSA and how she experienced the reactions of healthcare providers. Seven interviews were conducted with this 40-year-old woman, Anne, using a phenomenological research approach. Anne was still a young child (two to three years old) when her father started to rape her. Since her childhood, she has experienced complex and widespread physical health consequences such as repeated vaginal and abdominal infections, widespread and chronic pain, sleeping problems, digestive problems, chronic back problems, fibromyalgia, musculoskeletal problems, repeated urinary tract infections, cervical dysplasia, inflammation of the Fallopian tubes, menorrhagia, endometrial hyperplasia, chlamydia, ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancies, uterus problems, severe adhesions, and ovarian cancer. Anne disclosed her CSA experience to several healthcare providers but they were silent and failed to provide trauma-informed care. Anne's situation, albeit unique, might reflect similar problems in other female CSA survivors.


case study; child sexual abuse (CSA); chronic illness; disclosure; female CSA survivors; healthcare providers; interviews; phenomenology; psychological trauma; women’s health

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