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Voices of adolescent incest victims: A qualitative study on feelings about trauma and expectations of recovery

Published:February 10, 2020DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnu.2020.02.003

      Highlights

      • Incest, is one of the most serious social problem facing society and children/adolescents themselves. We know that incest victims are not a homogenous group, and when attempting to shed light on incest, we could not find enough evidence about individual life journeys to understand the dynamics and complexities of experiences in adolescents and families.
      • We found four key themes: 1. The first abuse memory: Unable to understand/Delayed meaning-making: All of the adolescents provided definitive information with respect to the first abuse memory but they also expressed that they were unable to understand what they had experienced so they delayed meaning making and had ambivalent feelings for a time after the first event.
      • 2. Attempts to end/Dysfunctional coping style with the incest: Adolescents told that they threated the perpetrators in various phases of incest. However, they have also pointed out the loneliness, insufficiencies, and ambivalences of this coping style. In terms of dealing by getting help from mothers, they did not tell them for a long time, and chose to cope on their own.
      • 3. Avoidance of eye contact by the perpetrator: This theme addresses the relationship of the incest victim and the perpetrator. We recognized that perpetrators avoided social contact with the victim (such as eye contact or talking) instead of the commonly used attitudes like reward, punishment or threat. This theme evokes dehumanizing of women. please change the last bullet as: According to themes, therapist could address the differentiation between dysfunctional and healthy family functioning and should explain that it is normal for a child to be delayed in meaning making. For recovery of the adolescent’s lost self after semantic dehumanization in abuses: therapist should help her to dispute irrational beliefs about worthlessness and to gain control of her body.
      • The urge to destroy happy memories: This theme presents a limited set of data on the topic of adolescents’ expectations about recovery and healing from incest trauma. This theme suggests that developing a coherent life narrative, a reevaluation of experience and reconstruction of the relationship with the perpetrator is important to deal with incest.
      • According to themes, for healing therapist could address the differentiation between dysfunctional and healthy family functioning, family rules and socialization and they should explain that it is normal for a child to be delayed in meaning making. For recovery of the adolescent’s lost self after semantic dehumanization in abuses: therapist should help her to dispute irrational beliefs about worthlessness and to gain control of her body.

      Abstract

      Background

      Incest, is a serious social problem facing society and children/adolescents themselves. The purpose of this study is to explore the ways adolescents talk about and give meaning to their experiences of incest concerning cultural, ethnic factors relevant to southeastern of Turkey.

      Method

      We focused on in-depth interviews of five incest victims (14–16 years girls, from low socioeconomic status in southeastern of Turkey).

      Results

      Four key themes were constructed from the qualitative analysis:
      1. Unable to understand/Delayed meaning-making: Adolescents provided definitive information about the first abuse memory but they were also unable to understand what they had experienced so they delayed meaning making.
      2. Dysfunctional coping style with the incest: Adolescents told that they threatened the perpetrators in various phases of incest.
      3. Avoidance of eye contact by the perpetrator: We recognized that perpetrators avoided social contact with the victim. This theme evokes dehumanizing of women during incest.
      4. The urge to destroy happy memories: This theme presents data on the adolescents' expectations about recovery.

      Conclusion

      According to the themes, two fundamental therapeutic precepts could guide the treatment process for adolescent girl incest survivors: 1. Exploration of the delayed meaning making: Therapist could address dysfunctional family functioning and explain that it is normal for a child to be delayed in meaning making. 2. Recovery of the adolescent's lost self after semantic dehumanization in abuses: Therapist should help her to dispute irrational beliefs about worthlessness and to gain control of her body.

      Keywords

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