This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

African American survivors of childhood sexual abuse: Perceptions of treatment and treatment providers




Day, Ryan

Type of Degree





The current research advancements in sexual abuse literature regarding the mental health treatment of African Americans has been focused heavily on female African Americans survivors with only limited research comparing both genders. The purpose of this quantitative descriptive study was to explore the post childhood sexual abuse (CSA) experiences of African American survivors. This study sought to examine if African American men or women were more likely to receive treatment for CSA, examine by whom treatment was provided, and measure the treatment perceptions regarding treatment effectiveness and impact of religious beliefs for childhood sexual abuse among African Americans when compared by gender groups. The provider of treatment consisted of two treatment provider groups: Licensed Mental Health Professionals (Psychiatrist/MD, Psychologist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Social Worker, or Marriage & Family Therapist) and Religious/Clergy Leaders (Priests, Rabbi, Pastors, Ministers, or Christian Counselors/Non-Licensed). Data was collected from participants residing in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia, which consisted of 15 counties. There were 249 participants in this study, consisting of 87 males (34.9%) and 162 females (65.1%) who completed an anonymous online survey, which was called the CSA Treatment Perceptions Questionnaire. This newly developed research instrument consisted of 3 questions from the Trauma Assessment for Adults (TAA) to confirm history of childhood sexual abuse, two researcher-developed subscales (the Treatment Perceptions Scale and the Religious Beliefs Impact Scale), and a demographic questionnaire. Statistical analysis revealed that there was no statistically significant difference between gender in terms of receiving treatment; also that there was no difference among African Americans based on gender when determining the treatment perceptions regarding treatment effectiveness and impact of religious beliefs. African American respondents were significantly more likely to see a Licensed Mental Health Professional (80.7%) versus a Religious/Clergy Leader (19.3%). Regarding treatment effectiveness, the results from the interaction effect found no significant difference between gender and treatment providers among African Americans. Despite this finding, there was a statistically significant main effect for treatment provider, which indicated that when males received treatment from LMHP they had overall higher rating values for treatment effectiveness, whereas females had higher rating values for treatment effectiveness when the treatment provider was a religious/clergy leader. Regarding the impact of religious beliefs, the interaction effect found no significant difference. This overall finding regarding the impact of religious beliefs among African Americans suggested that regardless of the respondent’s gender or treatment provider, there was no statistically significant difference. Limitations of this study, implications of this study, suggestions for future research, and suggestions for the counseling profession were noted.