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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Coping skills of incest and sexual abuse victims Phillips, Cecilie Anne Bannatyne


Childhood incest and sexual abuse was explored in depth to determine the coping skills used by victims, based upon their descriptive recall of these events. Eighteen adult women, who were group therapy members and leaders, were interviewed about their experiences as sexually abused children and adolescents. The critical incident technique was used to identify what hindered or facilitated the victims coping in the eighty-one abuse experiences collected. Each incident was categorized according to the identifiable stress, and the type of coping method used. Three categories of identifiable stress emerged from the data which were labelled offenders, significant others, and victims. Of these, the largest number of incidents related to stress created by offenders. In this sample, victims utilized direct action, inhibition of action, and intrapsychic coping methods, but not information seeking. Of these, direct action was most frequently employed. Independent judges found these categories reliable. Results are examined according to theoretical frameworks in coping theory and current perspectives on sexual abuse.

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