Women's Experiences of Self-Compassion in Coping with Sexual Problems Following a Sexual Assault

  • Author / Creator
    Campbell, Debra J
  • The majority of sexual assault incidents in Canada are committed against women and girls. Among the many injurious sequelae survivors can experience post-sexual assault are sexual problems. Sexual concerns related to desire, arousal, pain, orgasm and/or sexual well-being can last for years after the assault. Given the strong association between sexual well-being and both mental and physical health, it is crucial to understand how women effectively cope with sexual concerns stemming from sexual assault. Although self-compassion has been studied as a positive way of coping with other forms of trauma, no study to date has examined self-compassion’s role in addressing the needs of female sexual assault survivors, specific to sexual issues. Thus, this study explored women’s experiences of self-compassion in coping with sexual problems following a sexual assault. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to explore in detail how female survivors made sense of their world and the meanings these experiences held for them. Data were collected from 10 women across Canada in the form of semi-structured interviews held either in person or over the phone. Data analysis revealed eight themes: (a) honouring time, (b) quieting the inner critic, (c) connecting with social supports, (d) countering societal messages, (e) asserting personal boundaries and taking control, (f) engaging in regular self-care, (g) rebuilding a relationship with one’s body, and (h) persevering through emotional challenges. Clinical implications, limitations, and direction for future research are also discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Library with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.