Background: Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a worldwide phenomenon with ongoing and far-reaching consequences for millions of children worldwide. It is a consensus among researchers that continuous CSA represents a unique challenge. Objective: The current study aimed to explore the peritraumatic responses of survivors of continuous CSA as described in their written narratives of abuse. The transitions between the peritraumatic responses will also be examined, highlighting the unique context of continuous CSA. Participants and setting: Written narratives of CSA were recruited via an advertisement in the media inviting CSA survivors to share their stories of abuse on an anonymous online platform. The data collection was carried out under the Israeli Independent Public Inquiry on CSA. Methods: A qualitative thematic analysis was applied to 32 richly written accounts of abuse. Results: Three peritraumatic responses were identified: the adaptive response, hinting, and attempts to fight and flight. Transitions between these responses were described by the survivors and addressed the heavy load of the abuse, realization of the abuse, fear of consequences and the central role of the survivor's environment. Conclusions: The current study provides a unique platform for the exploration of peritraumatic responses in continuous CSA. Alongside the identification of three peritraumatic responses described by the survivors, the current study provides an initial glance into transitions between peritraumatic responses. This insight strengthens the developing notion that peritraumatic responses in the unique context of CSA are a top-down process, often shaped by various contexts and multidimensional dynamics in the children's lives.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank the Israeli Independent Public Inquiry, Haruv Institute and Tel Aviv University for their groundbreaking work in the course of the inquiry work. The authors would like to express their appreciation towards the survivors who chose to trust the Inquiry and to convey their testimonies in order to advance better future for children around the globe. This study was funded by The Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grant number 2353/21 which was granted to PI Carmit Katz.
This study was funded by The Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grant number 2353/21 which was granted to PI Carmit Katz.
- Continuous CSA
- Peritraumatic response transitions
- Peritraumatic responses
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health