Childhood sexual abuse is often associated with a number of deleterious psychological and behavioural
outcomes for survivors. However, some research suggests that this impact is variable and that some
survivors adapt positively. An ability to adapt positively to adversity, under any circumstances, has been
termed resilience. Drawing on a socio-ecological understanding of resilience, the aim of this scoping
review was to comprehensively map existing empirical studies on resilience processes in sexually
abused adolescent girls and to summarise emerging resilience-enabling factors. We also considered the
implications of the findings for practice and research. A total of 11 articles met the criteria for inclusion
in the review. Findings from these studies suggest that internal factors (meaning making, optimistic
future orientation, agency and mastery) and contextual factors (supportive family, social and educational
environments) function interdependently to enable resilience in sexually abused adolescent girls.
Practitioners should leverage these complementary and interdependent resilience-enabling mechanisms
by encouraging greater involvement of girls in the planning of interventions and by assisting girls in
developing meaningful narratives about their abuse experiences. Interventions should also encourage
greater involvement from supportive structures, while challenging social and cultural norms that inhibit
resilience. Resilience researchers should be cognisant of the paucity of research focusing on resilience
processes in sexually abused adolescent girls as well as the absence of innovative, participatory methods
of data collection.
• The review adds to a body of literature on resilience processes with implications for resilience researchers.
• The findings have implications for a range of practitioners (psychologists, social workers, teachers etc.)
who work with sexually abused girls.