The experience of non-offending caregivers following the disclosure of child sexual abuse : understanding the aftermath.
The deleterious effects of child sexual abuse on the child survivor have been well-documented throughout literature. It is well-known that non-offending caregivers play a critical role in mediating the child survivor’s recovery but little research has qualitatively detailed the negative effects of child sexual abuse disclosure on non-offending caregivers. The aim of this exploratory qualitative study was to explore the experience of non-offending caregivers following the disclosure of child sexual abuse within the South African context. This research is rooted in the theories of vicarious traumatisation and attachment theory. Secondary data was utilised whereby focused open-ended interviews with non-offending caregivers was obtained. In this study ten caregivers’ experiences were analysed using thematic analysis. Data analysis revealed that caregivers experienced multiple forms of emotional, psychological and situational difficulties following the disclosure of child sexual abuse. This research evidenced experiences of caregiver distress, caregiver alienation and caregiver grief. Additionally, this research identified various caregiver coping strategies within the aftermath. The findings of this study suggest that caregivers do experience vicarious traumatisation exacerbated by multiple socio-cultural stressors following the disclosure. Furthermore, the findings of this study suggest that caregiver distress impacted on their parenting abilities. This research emphasises the value and necessity for future research in further exploration into caregivers’ experiences following disclosure within the South African context. The findings also highlight the importance of tailored treatment interventions for non-offending caregivers targeting the diverse array of negative experiences that caregivers may endure within the aftermath of child sexual abuse disclosure.