“The story of the abuse as the story of my life”: Narrative analysis of the stories of survivors of prolonged child sexual abuse

Afnan Attrash-Najjar, Carmit Katz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Child sexual abuse (CSA) is an interpersonal trauma that results in profound life-long ramifications. The current study was designed to delve into the way CSA survivors wrote their stories for an independent public inquiry into CSA in Israel. Twenty-nine written narratives of women who experienced prolonged CSA by a familiar perpetrator were included in the study. The narrative analysis approach guided the analysis and addressed both the content and structure of their narratives. The findings highlighted the fundamental impact of prolonged trauma on how the abuse is remembered and narrated. Survivors' stories began by referring to the perpetrator's identity, which reflected the ongoing psychological presence of perpetrators in the survivors' lives. The stories' structure was characterized by fragments, deteriorating discourse, and repetitions that emphasized the trauma memory and abuse ramifications on the survivors' wellbeing. The survivors' narratives enabled a unique glimpse into common key themes highlighting their experiences of shouting the abuse without words and the spiral between body and mind as well as the reactions of those in their surroundings, reflected in unsupportive responses to disclosure. The survivors also highlighted the consequences of the abuse on their wellbeing, characterized by navigating between lacking and attempting to gain control. The current study stresses the ongoing presence of traumatic experiences in survivors' lives and their loneliness in dealing with them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106774
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Feb 2023


FundersFunder number
Israeli Independent Public Inquiry
Tel Aviv University
Haruv Institute


    • Abuse story
    • Familiar perpetrator
    • Independent inquiry
    • Narrative analysis
    • Prolonged CSA
    • Written narrative of abuse


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