Non-offending maternal (NOM) support is considered one of the most important protective factors in facilitating better victim adjustment following the disclosure of child sexual abuse (CSA). However, recent findings have led authors to conclude that NOM support has yet to be properly conceptualized and operationalized within the CSA literature.
Emotional support is one dimension that has consistently emerged in studies attempting to reconceptualize NOM support but is a concept which also requires further theoretical investigation. Researchers interviewed 22 mothers of children aged 6–12 years about their experience and provision of emotional support following their child’s disclosure of CSA. Data were analyzed using a method inspired by grounded theory. Mothers reported feeling initially overwhelmed and lost about how to emotionally support their child but described an improvement in their support capabilities following conjoint therapy.
Furthermore, three overarching categories emerged outlining maternal emotional support strategies, each serving a specific emotional function: (a) elaborating, encouraged children to talk about their CSA experience; (b) soothing, attempted to comfort children’s distress; and (c) orienting, attempted to guide children’s recovery process. Authors discuss implications for offering improved and more rapid clinical services following the disclosure of CSA, and considerations for the operationalization of NOM emotional support.
McCarthy, A., Cyr, M., Fernet, M. and Hébert, M. (2018). Maternal emotional support following the disclosure of child sexual abuse: a qualitative study. Journal of Sexual Abuse. DOI: 10.1080/10538712.2018.1534919.
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