Growing Older in the Shadow of Childhood Intrafamilial Sexual Abuse: Women's Reflections on Parenthood Experiences Throughout the Life Course

Mili Gichaz, Tova Band-Winterstein, Hila Avieli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and Objectives: The long-term effect of intrafamilial sexual abuse for the survivors' parenting rarely focuses on older women who are mothers of adult children. The aim of this study was to explore the parenthood experiences of aging women survivors of intrafamilial sexual abuse, using the life course perspective as a conceptual framework. Research Design and Methods: Interpretive phenomenological analysis was used to analyze the narratives of 19 older women survivors of intrafamilial sexual abuse. Results: The narratives revealed 4 themes: (a) "How did I raise those kids? I really do not know": Early parenthood experiences of aging women incest survivors; (b) "This is a true gift they are giving me now": Revealing the intrafamilial sexual abuse secret to the adult children; (c) "Is it possible to say that something good came out of it?": Adult children as a victory over incest experiences; and (d) "When my granddaughter was born, I suddenly felt that I could not go near her": Grandparenting in the shadow of incest memories. Discussion and Implications: Aging seems to open up a new avenue for parent-child relationships in the shadow of the parent's traumatic past, allowing reframing of parenthood in later life and demonstrating the power of parenthood as a source of healing in the lives of sexual abuse victims.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-240
Number of pages9
JournalThe Gerontologist
Volume62
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

Keywords

  • Intrafamilial sexual abuse
  • Life course perspective
  • Older survivors
  • Parenthood
  • Qualitative study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology

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