A Gale Force Wind: Meaning Making by Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Authors

  • Frances K. Grossman PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Boston University
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    • 5

      Frances K. Grossman, PhD, Department of Psychology, Boston University; Lynn Sorsoli, EdD, Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, San Francisco State University; and Maryam Kia-Keating, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego.

  • Lynn Sorsoli EdD,

    1. San Francisco State University
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    • 5

      Frances K. Grossman, PhD, Department of Psychology, Boston University; Lynn Sorsoli, EdD, Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, San Francisco State University; and Maryam Kia-Keating, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego.

  • Maryam Kia-Keating PhD

    1. University of California, San Diego
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    • 5

      Frances K. Grossman, PhD, Department of Psychology, Boston University; Lynn Sorsoli, EdD, Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, San Francisco State University; and Maryam Kia-Keating, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego.


  • We want to thank David Marcotte and Jamelle Greene for their contributions to this article.

61 Huntington Road, Newton, MA 02458. E-mail: frang@bu.edu

Abstract

This in-depth qualitative study explores how 16 resilient male survivors of serious childhood sexual abuse, representing a range of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, made meaning from their abuse experiences. Three main types of meaning making styles were identified in the narratives: meaning making through action, using cognitive strategies, and engaging spirituality. Meaning making through action included helping others and using creative expression to describe and process the abuse. Reasoning systems that helped survivors to understand why the abuse happened included developing a psychological framework for understanding the abuser or the role of the self in the abuse, using a sociocultural explanation, or developing a philosophical view. A few men made meaning through their spirituality. Meaning making styles seem to be related to experiences with therapy; the more experience these men had had with specialized trauma therapy, the more likely they were to make meaning by attempting to understand their perpetrators. In this study, men of color, regardless of socioeconomic class, were less likely than Caucasian men to have received specialized trauma therapy.

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