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Feminist perspectives on group home care for sexually abused adolescent women : a case study of Phoenix House Walton, Victoria Merryanne


Recent research about child sexual abuse has largely focussed on treatment with families or individuals. However, many sexually abused adolescents live in group homes. What kind of treatment do we provide for this population? Do traditional models of group home care adequately meet the particular needs of this population? This qualitative case study sought to examine the components of care of a group home for sexually abused female adolescents. Multiple sources of data were used from a variety of sources. This included nineteen interviews with residents, discharged residents, staff and referring agents, as well as observations and document analysis. This innovative model of group home care is essentially a feminist model of care based on mutual empowerment. The adolescents in this study described a process of feeling cared for, opening up and taking charge during their life at Phoenix House. The staff described three therapeutic tasks which meshed with the adolescent's themes; connecting, teaching and challenging. This model is in direct contrast with a model which replicates the abusive process. A ecological model is used as a framework to show how we replicate the abusive process on a variety of levels in our society. This research challenges our definitions of abuse, our attitudes about power, the nature of our relationships with adolescents, and the way we structure organizations.

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