This research will focus on emotional trauma as a result of sexual abuse of a young girl within a family by a stepfather. This is a great challenge to pastoral caregivers within the context of South Africa in particular in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa; where sexual abuse within the family surroundings has become the norm.
The impact of sexual abuse in young girls is vast and varied. The most commonly experienced impact of sexual abuse is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The most frequent observation among victims of sexual abuse is that the victimised young girl tend to engage in extreme sexualized behaviour compared to other young girls who are not sexually abused
Since the abuse took place on and in the body; the body becomes the enemy. They carry a great deal of pain and memories. This is evident in Ann’s life; where she desperately tries to cope with the pain; which can lead to eating disorders, self-inflicting injuries, inability to have sex, or engaging in sex often, poor body image.
This pastoral care study is an investigation of traumatic effects of sexual abuse of young girls by stepfathers. It seeks to give answers to questions like:
- How does sexual abuse on young girls within a family impact on their lives?
- Does sexual abuse that occurs in the life of a young girl affect the relationship within the family and community?
- How do young girls fall into the sexual abuse trap?
- How traumatically affected are young girls who grew up in a sexually abusive environment?
- Can a male be a therapist for this abused girl?
This study aims to deal with the pain of the survivors of sexual abuse and understand the background of these young girls. And to help survivors of sexual abuse to heal of all the wounds and year of trauma that they went through during their childhood and regain dignity and confidence, again, in life for their future sexual and family life. The first level of empowerment that this research seeks to achieve is to bring the survivor to accept and forgive the perpetrator in their future lives.
Secondly, to assist the care giver to develop counselling models that would counsel sexual abuse survivors and their families.
And lastly, to help survivors learn to cope and deal with this situation and understand that it is possible to live a positive life after the emotional and traumatic incidences that they had gone through.
This research seeks to create awareness on the traumatic impact that sexual abuse has on the lives of young girls. The findings of this research will help pastoral caregivers, to deal effectively with this issue. This research will further empower young girls who have undergone sexual abuse to restore their dignity and, finally, help them to move from a place of paralysis to a place of being healers.
The author undertakes this research with the assumption that Young girls that are raised within a sexual abusive environment are affected negatively by such experiences. From Ann’s experience, the author asserts that young girls are traumatized and may not function properly in the community as a result of this trauma.
The findings of this study will allow the author to establish a pastoral care method which addresses the impact of traumatic and emotional sexual abuse towards young girls who grow up experiencing sexual abuse by stepfathers. And will be empowering pastoral caregivers, who experience such traumatic situations, to be able to help survivors heal from their own trauma and pain and then to become healing and transforming agents to other young girls.