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Sexual violence and traumatic identity change: evidence of collective post-traumatic growth

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-15, 09:13 authored by ORLA MULDOONORLA MULDOON, Alastair Nigtingale, Robert Lowe, Siobhan GriffinSiobhan Griffin, Grace McMahonGrace McMahon, Daragh BradshawDaragh Bradshaw, Islam BorincaIslam Borinca

Recent research indicates that social identities play a crucial role in the connection between adversity, post-traumatic stress, and overall psychological well-being. Understanding of how trauma influences collective dimensions of the self, positively or negatively, is limited. This study focuses on analysing publicly accessible narratives of four women who chose to waive their anonymity after the conviction of the men who had attacked and sexually assaulted them in Ireland. Thematic analysis highlighted two themes that signal (i) collective dimensions to this personal trauma, (ii) attempts to reconstruct social identities in the aftermath of trauma. Women presented their experiences as having the potential to amplify positive connections with others despite the wider embedded sociocultural understanding of sexual assault. These changes were associated with redefinition of social identities. Discussion highlights the potential for personal and intimate trauma to result in positive social identity change; a phenomenon that we label collective post-traumatic growth.


A Social Identity Model of Trauma and Identity Change: A Novel Theory of Post-Traumatic Stress, Resilience and Growth

European Research Council

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European Journal of Social Psychology pp. 1-11


John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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