Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Adult child sexual abuse victims-Rehabilitation, African Americans-Religious life, Spirituality-Psychology, Black Church, Childhood sexual abuse, Healing, African American churches-Psychological aspects


This qualitative research study was designed to explore the route toward healing from childhood sexual abuse. It focuses on adults who employ Christian spirituality and seek counseling from the Black church. The objective of this study was to investigate perceptions of how the Black church implements services for this abused population. This study interviewed pastors- of a Black church- and counselors (N=6), exploring their beliefs about healing, and analyzing interventions implemented within the therapeutic relationship with a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Through personal narratives participants expressed their opinions about Black church, as a cohort, in addressing the issues of CSA. The majority of participants (n=5) believed that the Black church should do more work in confronting the issue of CSA, although they themselves have made strides to bring more awareness to this topic. Many believed (n=6) that making referrals to professional resources outside of the church (i.e. talk therapist, medical doctors, ect.) could be a crucial part of the healing survivors experience. Other elements of healing included the survivor forgiving their abuser, implementing prayer, scripture reading, and the use of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. There was great difficulty in getting participants for availability reasons and fear of breaching confidentiality. The results of this study serve to benefit the field of clinical social work by way of educating clinicians on the experiences CSA survivors have in pursuing help from the Black church. It also serves to give insight as to how individuals utilize their spirituality to usher them into healing.




iv, 72 p. : ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 63-66)