The Nature of Posttraumatic Growth in Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Sarah Hartley*, Carly Johnco, Marthinus Hofmeyr, Alexis Berry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Potential negative sequelae for survivors of child sexual abuse is well documented. However, growing evidence suggests that some individuals who actively cope with traumatic events can progress from a negative trajectory toward positive psychological change, often termed posttraumatic growth. Current posttraumatic growth theories may be of limited applicability to developmental considerations involved in child sexual abuse. This explorative study examines posttraumatic growth among adult female survivors of child sexual abuse. In-depth interviews were conducted with six participants who believed they had grown through coping with their abuse. Data was analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three superordinate and nine subordinate themes were identified and explored. Some participants reported experiencing growth and distress simultaneously. Theoretical and clinical implications are examined in relation to the studys findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-220
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Abuse
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • incest
  • posttraumatic growth
  • trauma
  • women


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