Exploring Coping Factors amongst Men Who Were Sexually Abused in Childhood

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O'Leary, Patrick J
Gould, Nick
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2010
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Abstract

Men who were sexually abused in childhood are overrepresented in mental health and other clinical populations. There is heterogeneity in outcomes for such men and a substantial number develop coping strategies that minimise negative consequences of abuse. However, little research has been undertaken with abused men to understand the nature of their coping. This paper reports on one arm of a major study of mental health outcomes for Australian men who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse and presents findings from thematic analysis of qualitative interviews with thirty-nine men, exploring how their coping mechanisms have developed and the nature of the advice for coping they would give to professionals or other survivors. The study found that coping strategies developed adaptively through the life course but clustered into two types: those that are concerned with forms of suppression and denial, which are associated with negative mental health outcomes, and those that involve reframing the abuse, which tend to be associated with more positive outcomes. Implications of the study for practice are consistent with the advice suggested by the men themselves, that they were helped by consistent relationships with others who could provide practical support and inspire hope.

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The British Journal of Social Work
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Social work
Social work not elsewhere classified
Sociology
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