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This study considered whether validation through corroborative evidence (an outside source affirming the abuse) is necessary for remediation of symptoms in women survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) who have varying degrees of PTSD. It utilized multiple case studies, in a mixed qualitative-quantitative design, to gain a better understanding of the role of validation in the recovery process.
Two groups of adult female survivors with varying degrees of PTSD were compared: those who had validation of their abuse experiences through corroborative evidence (n=12), and those who did not (n=13). They were queried about their belief in the importance of validation through corroborative evidence and its possible impact on the remediation of their PTSD-like symptoms. This was operationalized by examining the differences in the frequency/intensity and quality of the following variables: dissociation, the current impact of their childhood sexual abuse(s), and their levels of selfesteem. These variables were assessed by using Bernstein and Putnam's Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES-II), Horowitz and colleagues' Impact of Event Scale (IES), Nugent and Thomas' Self-Esteem Rating Scale (SERS), and a semistructured, personal interview.
A MANOV A was conducted on the data from the tests instruments (DES-II, IES, SERS), and no significance was found (a possible Type II error, with the sample being too small to detect an effect). Contrary to this, the data from the personal interviews were quantified using descriptive statistics (frequency counts with percentages), and many substantial differences were discovered: Nonvalidated participants reported more dissociated/repressed and somatic memories; had a higher incidence of negative self-statements and beliefs (e.g., believed selves to be "crazy," "bad," "evil"); and currently had more intrusive PTSD symptoms than validated participants. This supports the theory that validation through corroborative evidence of CSA does make a difference in how survivors heal from their abuse. An unexpected and important finding was that mothers' support and validation was viewed by the survivors as being of great importance, and that for the majority of them, this validation was not given.