Date of Conferral







Ethel Perry


In any form, child abuse is traumatic, and the effects can leave the individual psychologically scarred. Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a specific, worldwide problem that affects individuals of all ethnicities; however, CSA is most prevalent among African Americans in the United States. The adverse effects of CSA warrant proper coping strategies. Though negative coping strategies are innate, positive coping strategies are more beneficial. Sexual minorities are individuals whose sexual orientation or gender identity deviates from the majority of the population (i.e., heterosexuals). Sexual minority women (SMW) with histories of CSA face many tribulations and hardships. Resiliency is a form of positive coping, in which positivity is used to excel in multiple aspects of life mentally. The purpose of this interpretative phenomenological analysis was to establish a better understanding of how African American SMW with histories of CSA perceive and describe the pursuit of resilience following CSA. Relational cultural theory and resilience portfolio model was used as the theoretical foundation. Participants were recruited with a flyer and were selected via purposeful and snowball sampling. Semistructured interviews were conducted to obtain rich, thick data. The findings from this study suggest that African American SMW perceive and describe the pursuit of resilience following CSA in intermittent stages, but each stage is essential to the overall resilience of the individual. The findings of this study contribute to positive social change by explaining how these women became resilient. Once resiliency is learned, it can be used in all aspects of life. Applying resiliency to life’s challenges will increase positivity, which will result in positive social change.