Research exploring relationships between trauma survivors is largely non-existent. This study will explore effects of social relationships formed between individuals sharing experiences of sexual trauma through group therapy. Researchers will examine potential buffering and supportive effects, and potential negative effects of vicarious traumatization, that may occur from social support. These complex dynamics are explored through examining relationships and experiences of individuals in support groups; open-ended and semi-structured interviews will be utilized in this qualitative approach. The interviews explore experiences such as: healing effects of group therapy for sexual trauma, the extent to which relationships facilitate healing and trauma recovery, experiences of shared trauma and vicarious traumatization during participation, and how participants cope with exposure to sexual trauma of others. Interviews will be analyzed following the process of Thematic Analysis outlined by Braun & Clarke (2006) allowing for buffering effects, potential impact of vicarious traumatization, and shared trauma between survivors in support groups. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted virtually, recorded, and transcribed for analysis. Participant interviews will be coded, and results will be analyzed to find/define themes, select participant statements will provide examples of themes across data. This study, among the first to examine shared and vicarious traumatization, adds to scarce literature on buffering and supportive effects of relationships among sexual assault survivors and underlying mechanisms that contribute to supportive effects. This research will increase clinicians' and group leaders' awareness of potential risks involved in group treatment for sexual assault survivors and assists clinicians and group members in mitigating these risks.
Gettys, B., Monaghan, S., & Greene, A. (2021). Does It Hurt and Heal? A Qualitative Study of the Relationships Among Sexual Assault Survivors in Support Groups. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.wcupa.edu/psych_stuwork/18