Sexual assault and secondary trauma experiences within the Evangelical church: A qualitative study
Sparkle, Bethany J
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The beliefs and actions of the Evangelical church are particularly relevant in the midst of our current social and political landscape. This is especially true regarding beliefs around sexuality, gender, and teachings or beliefs around bodily autonomy. Little research explores the experiences of women who grew up within this particular social context, or the impact it may have had on them. This qualitative study explores through in-depth interviews the perceived effects of the social beliefs and expectations of the Evangelical church on women, and how those beliefs may have supported or contributed to abuse they experienced. Interviews with 5 women revealed six themes: (1) Fear and Love (2) Guarding Purity (3) Navigating Roles (4) Seeking (5) Point of No Return and (6) Reframing Experiences. The implications for social work practice and research include a need to: explore the impact of childhood Evangelical beliefs on adult relationships and experiences, enhance individual provider awareness of the potential impact of repressive faith communities, and to explore differences of experience for those who have moved away from Evangelicalism in response to trauma as opposed to those who have restructured their beliefs while maintaining their connection to the church.