The essence of healing from sexual violence: A qualitative metasynthesis


  • This study is funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research [R01 NR08230-01A1]. We would like to acknowledge Dr. Barbara Schloman, Associate Dean, Library and Media Services, Kent State University, for her assistance with the literature search.


A qualitative metasynthesis was conducted to identify the essence of healing from sexual violence, as described by adults who experienced it as children or as adults. Based on the findings of 51 reports, four domains of healing were identified: (a) managing memories, (b) relating to important others, (c) seeking safety, and (c) reevaluating self. The ways of healing within each domain reflected opposing responses. The dialectical process identified for each of the four domains include, respectively: (a) calling forth memories, (b) regulating relationships with others, (c) constructing an “as-safe-as-possible” lifeworld, and (d) restoring a sense of self. These complex processes resulted in a new reality for the participants that was based on a greater sense of agency and provided a more satisfying life course. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 32: 366–378, 2009