The issue of Childhood Sexual Experiences (CSEs) is highly controversial, and has generated considerable disagreement and conflict.
Such experiences are often framed as child sexual abuse (CSA) within a discourse of child maltreatment. Sexual activity between adults and young children is indeed abuse, and fully merits the moral stance taken by therapists, health professionals and society.
However, Childhood Sexual Experiences presents evidence that viewing all CSEs through the same prism of abuse, victimhood and commonly-held perceptions of gender socialisation may not always allow those affected to tell the whole story. Not all those who experienced sexual activity as children view themselves as victims, believe that their experiences had a profoundly or irrevocably negative impact on their lives, or view their experiences as ‘abusive’. Others do not want their identities to be linked to specific events in childhood.
Applying a positive psychology approach, Childhood Sexual Experiences recounts and explores the stories of those who have shown an ability to come to terms with or overcome the difficulties that they have faced, exploring the insights these narratives of resilience present to therapists and health and social care professionals.
I would encourage you to read this book with an open mind and to look for the strength and determination to be found in these narratives, remembering that those who are resilient may teach us how better to help those who are less fortunate.
Sally V Hunter
Childhood sexual experiences What we already know about childhood sexual experiences Damaged goods? Heterosexual and homosexual experiences in childhood A silence recently broken The need to remember and the need to forget Protecting and helping others Justice at any cost Remaining defiant Kids and adults that don’t tell Drawing together the threads of resilience Gender differences in disclosure and development of a narrative of resilience Implications and recommendations Appendices: Ten week, step-by-step recovery programme Research methodology Limitations of research methodology