Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Jane M. Georges, PhD, RN, Chairperson; Kathy Shadle James, DNSc, RN; Stephanie Vaughn PhD, RN


childbirth, Childhood Sexual Abuse, nursing, Perinatal services, personhood


Being a pregnant female is a temporary condition. A woman with a history of childhood sexual abuse aligns the personhoods of child victim, adult survivor and pregnant female to achieve a successful pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum experience. Female survivors desire to be recognized and function as whole being during the perinatal experience. It is estimated that 15 to 32 percent of females prior to the age of eighteen have unwanted sexual contact. Female survivors carry this history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) with them throughout their lives which may involve childbirth. There are many long-term psychological consequences that can occur as a result of a history of CSA, which may include possessing a spoiled identity. Pregnancy and childbirth is a vulnerable experience for many women. The purpose of this study was to explore the meaning of having a history of childhood sexual abuse to pregnant survivors during perinatal services. This study focused on how pregnant female survivors perceived their perinatal care within the context of possessing long term psychological consequences of CSA. Constant comparative analysis was used to develop an explanatory model of the meaning of having a history of childhood sexual abuse during perinatal services to pregnant female survivors. In-depth interviews were conducted with eleven survivors between the ages of 26 to 51 years of age. Analysis of the data yielded a basic social process grounded in the experiences of female survivors who have experienced childbirth. Aligning personhoods emerged as a context of the study that described how female survivors integrate the child victim, survivor and pregnant female into a whole being to achieve successful childbirth. Discerning safety and managing vulnerabilities represent major categories that depict survivors' fluid mechanisms that lead them to focus differently to get through perinatal services. Discerning safety contains subcategories of gender preference, assumptions, disregarded/regarded, and attitudes and actions which denote survivor's discernment of personal safety. Managing vulnerabilities contains the subcategories of rectifying pregnancy and controlling actions which includes mechanisms of avoiding and delaying, enduring, presencing and changing that survivors actively employ to achieve successful childbirth integrated with a sense of personal safety and being whole.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons