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Groups for women survivors of childhood sexual abuse: The implications of attachment theory

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Publication details

JournalJournal of social work practice
DatePublished - May 1997
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)27-40
Original languageEnglish


This paper suggests that attachment theory provides a conceptual framework for understanding the way in which groups can help women to recover from childhood experiences of sexual abuse. For all children, the nature and quality of their relationships with adult care-givers influence their ability to form relationships and realise their potential. Childhood sexual abuse interferes with this process, but it does not affect all children in the same way, for a variety of complex reasons. Attachment theory is invoked to account for some of these differences. it is proposed that some of the characteristic manifestations of childhood sexual abuse in adult survivors can be understood in attachment terms, with reference to internal working models of relationship. The role which groups (in conjunction with other forms of help and support) can play in the recovery process through influencing internal working models is considered. The relative merits of short-term long-term, professionally-led and self-help groups are discussed.

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