Caregivers' perceptions of desensitisation among sexually abused children

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    Children react differently to the traumatic experience of sexual abuse. Some children develop symptomatic behaviours associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, such as apathy, which may be misinterpreted as desensitisation. Others appear less affected by the sexual abuse and may be regarded as desensitised and possessing resilience. Incongruence thus exists, as the one may be taken incorrectly for the other. This study has explored caregivers' perceptions of desensitisation among the children in their care who had been sexually abused in the past. The study is explorative and descriptive in nature and grounded in a qualitative design. Purposive sampling was used to form three focus groups (17 participants). Data collection took place by means of focus groups with the aid of an interview guide. Collected data was transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis. The findings were written up, presented and discussed. The findings are recommended to be used to inform social workers and other members of the helping professions on how to approach and interact in the future with caregivers of sexually abused children.