Personal constructs of male survivors of childhood sexual abuse receiving cognitive analytic therapy
OBJECTIVE: This study assessed whether male survivors of sexual abuse identified with their abusers rather than their child- or victim-selves and failed to identify with men in general or with their victims, following abusive 'acting out'. Changes in both identification and symptomatology were assessed following cognitive analytic therapy.
DESIGN: A patient series within-participants design was used.
METHOD: A repertory grid methodology examined four male survivors self-construals before and after therapy. Measures of symptomatic distress, depression, self-esteem and distorted beliefs related to childhood sexual abuse were also obtained.
RESULTS: Before therapy, patients showed little identification with the child-selves, men in general and ideal-selves. Two heterosexual patients identified with their abuser(s) whereas another, homosexual, patient negatively identified with his abuser. Patients did not identify with their victims following aggressive 'acting out'. After therapy, identification with the abuser reduced markedly; identification with victim- and ideal-self increased. Depression and distorted beliefs declined.
CONCLUSION: Male survivors tend to identify with abusers and disavow their victim-hood. Sexual orientation may predict identification patterns. Cognitive analytic therapy may be a promising method of enabling survivors to integrate their abuse experience and reduce their commitment to the abuser role.
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