The Process of Coping with Sexual Trauma
The work that has been done at Duke over the past several years has led to a very simple conclusion: In coping with sexual trauma, the survivor must come to understand the emotional impact of the trauma so that she is no longer preoccupied or driven by negative feelings, and must grapple with the meaning of the trauma until an adaptive resolution is achieved. This process can lead to a variety of adaptive or maladaptive schemata, and a strong fear of overwhelming affects. Psychotherapeutic intervention is often required for successful completion of the process. In this chapter we present a conceptual system that characterizes this process, along with clinical examples and preliminary reliability findings in measuring the process. We selected case examples from the course of a group psychotherapy for female survivors of sexual trauma to illustrate potential use of the system in describing the process of coping changes over time. As a background, data on sexual trauma and the theoretical material that has guided our work will be briefly presented.
KeywordsSexual Abuse Emotional Impact Borderline Personality Disorder Sexual Trauma Rape Victim
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