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Shame and Guilt in Men Exposed to Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Qualitative Investigation

NCJ Number
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse Volume: 21 Issue: 2 Dated: March - April 2012 Pages: 155-175
Martin J. Dorahy; Ken Clearwater
Date Published
April 2012
21 pages
This study examined the experiences of shame and guilt in adult males sexually abused as children.
Seven participants attending a service for male sexual abuse completed measures of shame, guilt, dissociation, and childhood trauma history and subsequently participated in a focus group. All participants experienced childhood sexual abuse in the "severe" range and showed elevated scores for shame, guilt, and dissociation. Four superordinate themes with associated subordinate themes emerged: (a) self-as-shame (foundations of self-as-shame, fear of exposure, temporary antidote: connection), (b) pervasiveness and power of doubt and denial (from others, from self, consequences of incredulity), (c) uncontrollability (of problems after disclosure, of rage, of intrusions and emotional pain), and (d) dissociation. Results are discussed with reference to the existing literature and the emerging "self-as-shame" construct, which appeared to encapsulate participants' view of themselves. (Published Abstract)