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Sexual Assault Survivors' Experiences of Self-Compassion

  • Author / Creator
    Dicks, Janice M
  • Sexual assault can have devastating psychological consequences for survivors. Feelings of self-loathing and shame may undermine survivors’ sense of self and contribute to long-term distress. Self-compassion has been proposed to be a facilitator of healing from traumatic events and has been found to help individuals find hope and meaning when faced with difficult life circumstances. To date, no known studies have examined self-compassion and trauma from a qualitative perspective and there is an absence of studies focusing on self-compassion exclusively in relation to sexual assault. The present study explored how sexual assault survivors describe and ascribe meaning to experiences of self-compassion. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 female survivors who experienced sexual assault in adulthood. Through Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, eight major themes emerged: (a) affirming self-worth; (b) accepting oneself; (c) absolving oneself of blame; (d) honouring emotions; (e) taking time for self-care; (f) connecting with others; (g) claiming power; and (h) recognizing progress. Based on the findings, suggestions for the intentional implementation of compassion-focused practices as an adjunct to trauma treatment are discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2014-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3XG9FJ01
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries 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.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Educational Psychology
  • Specialization
    • Counselling Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Van Vliet, Jessica (Education Psychology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Whelton, William (Educational Psychology)
    • Lasiuk, Gerri (Nursing)
    • Eppert, Claudia (Secondary Education)
    • Yohani, Sophie (Educational Psychology)