Podium Presentation 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

Towards A Relational Process Of Healing From Sexual Abuse (#182)

Denise Dussert Chervellino 1 , Claudia Capella Sepulveda 1
  1. Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

The goal of this paper is to present the subjective understandings of the healing process, from the viewpoint of parents as indirect victims, in cases of child sexual abuse.

The method of this study is qualitative. Interviews were done to 18 nonoffending parents of children and adolescents aged 8 to 18 years old, that were sexually abused and successfully finished specialized psychotherapeutic process. Narrative analysis was developed.

Results highlight how parents understand their experience of healing. Parents describe reaching a sense of personal growth and a positive parental identity. In addition, it is discovered a relational process of healing, in which parents and children make progress as they observe meaningful changes in each other’s experience, thus recovering in an interrelated form. In turn, this healing process is extended to the nuclear family. Finally, parents highlight the importance of their active participation on their children's psychotherapy, as it allows them to understand their process of healing in a connected form. 

These results contribute to broaden positive psychology knowledge about the concept of healing from sexual abuse. It is also discussed the importance of acknowledging the mutual influence of parents’ and children’s experience for enriching psychotherapeutic processes in the pathway to healing.