Журнал психологии и психотерапии

Журнал психологии и психотерапии
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ISSN: 2161-0487


The Meaning of Sexual Abuse

Mila Goldner-Vukov and Laurie Jo Moore

Introduction: There is a high prevalence of sexual abuse among mental health patients. Survivors of sexual abuse suffer a broad range of psychological, psychiatric disorders and physical problems. The trauma and healing of sexual abuse is addressed on the level of the individual, the family and society.

Objective : This paper will explore the meaning of sexual abuse on the level of the individual, the family and society.

Methods: A literature review was conducted on sexual abuse and selected resources were explored. The prevalence, epidemiology, family and social etiology and psychodynamics, and psychopathology in survivors are presented.

Results: Sexual abuse results in the ‘3 D syndrome’: depression in the individual, disintegration in the family and degeneration in the society. The meaning of sexual abuse is organized around loss and guilt. The healing process has to take place on all three levels.

Conclusions: Sexual abuse continues to be a pervasive problem. Up to one out of three females and one out of seven males have been sexually abused. Clinicians are obliged to inquire about sexual abuse in a sensitive, non-judgmental way. Mental health services need to assume leadership of organized social action that addresses the legal, correctional, cultural and social management of sexual abuse. Individuals need specialized treatment including the introduction of hope and help in finding meaning in their suffering. Families need access to family therapy and psychoeducation. Society needs to send a message to families and communities that sexual abuse will not be tolerated. Mental health services need to promote prevention and early intervention in dysfunctional families, communities and individuals.