Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Attributes of Spirituality Described by Survivors of Sexual Violence

Attributes of Spirituality Described by Survivors of Sexual Violence
Gregory P. Knapik, Donna S. Martsolf, Claire B. Draucker, and Karen D. Strickland


This study focuses on what aspects of attributes of spirituality as defined by Martsolf and Mickley (1998) are most salient for female and male survivors of sexual violence. Content analysis of secondary narrative data, provided by 50 participants in a study of women’s and men’s responses to sexual violence, was coded to the five attributes of spirituality as defined by Martsolf and Mickley. The attribute aspects of connecting with others in spiritual ways and with God/higher power were particularly significant. The attribute of transcendence was found less important, and the attributes of value, becoming, and meaning were not found important. The Martsolf and Mickley framework helped organize narrative data for a content analysis of spirituality in survivors of sexual violence.
This study’s purpose was to determine what attributes of spirituality, as defined by Martsolf and Mickley (1998), are most commonly described and what aspects of these attributes are considered salient by survivors of sexual violence. [...]

The use of spirituality may be one way survivors cope with the experience of sexual violence. Studies in the United States reveal that religious support (Glaister & Abel, 2001; Oaksford & Frude, 2003, Valentine & Feinhauer, 1993), belief in and connection with divine beings (Draucker & Petrovic, 1996; Smith & Kelly, 2001), and finding spiritual meaning in adversity (Smith & Kelly) can aide in recovery from sexual trauma. Researchers have also found, however, that survivors’ religious faith can fuel shame and guilt, and church communities can minimize, deny, or enable violence and abuse (Giesbrecht & Sevcik, 2000). A systematic review of empirical studies examining associations between religion, spirituality, and personal growth following trauma revealed three major findings:

First,….religion and spirituality are usually, although not always, beneficial to people in dealing with the aftermath of trauma. Second, that traumatic experiences can lead to a deepening of religion or spirituality. Third, that positive religious coping, religious openness, readiness to face existential questions, religious participation, and intrinsic religiousness are typically associated with posttraumatic growth. (Shaw, Joseph, & Linley, 2005, p. 1)

While spirituality appears to be an important aspect of recovery for some survivors, little is known about what attributes of spirituality are most frequently described in narratives of survivors of sexual violence and what aspects of those attributes are most salient for survivors. [...]


  1. Good article. Reading between the lines, here is what Rabbi Manis Friedman was trying to say.

  2. A new article. Perhaps useful if you want to "reshape" conceptual boundaries a bit.

    IMO, you may want to note the author's bio. and affiliation first:

    Elizabeth Ann Maynard (2013): The diagnostic and statistical manual: sacred text for a secular community?, Mental Health, Religion & Culture, DOI:10.1080/13674676.2012.762574



    The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the most widely used diagnostic system by mental health professionals in North America. It provides a shared language and paradigm by which practitioners view clients. Can it be argued that the DSM represents a sacred text and defines a worldview for an identifiable community of mental health professionals? In what ways is the relationship between this community and document similar to and different from the relationships that explicitly religious communities maintain with their sacred texts?

    Keywords: mental illness; diagnosis; religion


    Full-text PDF at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13674676.2012.762574

  3. The study's methodology is weak. Problems included a self selected sample, and problems getting reliable coding of interview transcripts. Moreover, more than half of the obtained interviews turned out to have no relevant data. Had they been included they might have disproved the hypothesis of the study.

    I think it was a worthwhile first step in doing this type of research but I would not go much further.


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