Resilience beyond a life of living death: A qualitative analysis of narratives by sexual violence survivors in Japan

Poster C69, Saturday, October 22, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Le Baron

Tami Miyatsu1, Yasuko Koyano1, Kazuyo Ishibashi2; 1Juntendo University, 2Aoyama Gakuin University

Sexual violence is a serious crime that involves violating human dignity in the vilest way. Memories haunt survivors, whoever their abusers were and no matter how, when and where they were abused. One describes it as “a life of living death.” Japan witnesses more than 9,000 cases of rape and sexual assault every year; however, details are unknown because, except a few, survivors prefer silence to protest. Purpose The purpose of this study is to elucidate how sexual violence survivors' act of narrating contributes to trauma recovery and strengthened resiliency. Cultural differences regarding sexual morality, if any, are also considered for therapeutic purposes. Design A qualitative descriptive research Methods Narratives of 22 trauma survivors with histories of child sexual abuse, child physical abuse and/or adult rape published in the past 25 years (1990-2015) in Japan are analyzed in three categories, depending on their abuser’s relationship to the survivor; members of (extended) family, acquaintances, and strangers. Descriptions of their emotional transformation are extracted, the process of enhancing resilience is reviewed, and then the meaning of narration is examined. Results Most have developed resilience through writing narratives, while going through three phases: “the impact on lost self-respect,” “the changed relationship with others,” and “the desire for understanding sexual victimhood.” The results suggest the therapeutic necessity of providing survivors with the opportunity to "narrate their trauma" as a way to allow them to give vent to their emotional turmoil. The analysis also revealed that Japanese survivors’ lasting images of stigmatized-self hinder their recovery.

Topic Area: Stress Responsivity

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