Title

Overcoming Sequelae of Childhood Sexual Abuse with Stress Management

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Originally Published In

. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing

Volume Number

19

Issue Number

7

Page Numbers

587-593

Abstract

Accessible summary

  • The immense stress associated with experiencing and surviving childhood sexual abuse (CSA) directly influences coping, immune function, and overall health.
  • There are long-term consequences from sexual abuse of children. Those who survive CSA tend to show evidence of damaging effects on physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. The early stress associated with experiencing and surviving CSA directly influences immune function and overall health. As a result, stress prevention and management play an increasingly important role in the holistic health of adult survivors of CSA.
  • The current study re-examined stress management as part of the holistic care of adult survivors of CSA. The purpose of this research was to examine if a stress management education programme remains effective in improving coping skills as measured by the Ways of Coping.
  • Four weeks of stress management training classes were completed by 32 female adult survivors of CSA. After training, participants reported using fewer avoidance behaviours, more problem-solving approaches, more direction on seeking social support, and more positive perception of stressors.
  • This study is relevant to the professions who serve adult survivors of CSA as it provides further evidence for including or continuing stress management education as part of clinical practice.

Abstract

The immense stress associated with experiencing and surviving childhood sexual abuse directly influences coping, immune function and overall health. Lifelong overuse of maladaptive coping strategies results in impaired adjustment to stress. The purpose of this research was to re-examine if stress management education would be effective in improving coping skills for this population. Two 4-week series of stress management workshops were completed by 32 adult survivors who completed the Ways of Coping Questionnaire before and after the training. Four categories of coping showed significant change. Stress management education is an effective and cost-efficient approach that gives adult survivors an empowering set of tools for their healing journey.