“One Day It Will Be Over, and You Will See Other Landscapes.. You Are Not Alone”: Adult Survivors’ Messages to Children Undergoing Child Sexual Abuse

Afnan Attrash-Najjar, Dafna Tener, Carmit Katz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Child sexual abuse (CSA) has received considerable attention from scholars, contributing to policy, intervention, and prevention efforts worldwide. However, survivors’ involvement in this research is limited. This study was designed to delve into the messages of adult CSA survivors to abused children. In all, 371 written testimonies were provided to the Israeli Independent Public Inquiry on CSA by survivors from diverse communities in Israel. The Inquiry aimed to promote change in policies related to CSA. The testimonies were analyzed using the qualitative thematic analysis method. The results revealed five main messages emphasized by survivors to children experiencing CSA: (a) transferring the responsibility and guilt from children to perpetrators and society; (b) turning toward the light and continuing on; (c) disclosure is essential; (d) a happy life is possible; and (e) together we can survive. The discussion emphasizes how various systems in survivors’ lives have profound impacts following the abuse. Although survivors were from diverse backgrounds, their messages to abused children were consistent. Through their messages to the children, the survivors emphasized their wish to transfer responsibility and guilt from children experiencing abuse to the society that is supposed to see, listen, protect, and validate. Implications for practice are discussed, focusing on the importance of making room for survivors’ voices and experiences in the processes of shaping policies in the area of CSA. Moreover, the survivors’ desire to be there for the children emphasized the urgent need to promote the perception of survivors as key stakeholders in the field of child abuse and to integrate their experiences and perceptions into the formal and informal systems for children.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)11138-11164
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Volume38
Issue number19-20
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.

Keywords

  • child sexual abuse
  • child sexual abuse disclosure
  • child sexual abuse testimonies
  • independent inquiry
  • survivors’ perceptions

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