Contemporary Family Therapy

, 31:100

Sexual Trauma and Pregnancy: A Qualitative Exploration of Women’s Dual Life Experience


    • Human Development and Family ScienceOklahoma State University
  • Karen S. Wampler
    • Family and Child EcologyMichigan State University
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10591-009-9083-9

Cite this article as:
Schwerdtfeger, K.L. & Wampler, K.S. Contemp Fam Ther (2009) 31: 100. doi:10.1007/s10591-009-9083-9


Using a qualitative methodology, we investigated the possible connection between pregnant females’ past sexual trauma experiences and current experiences of pregnancy. Semi-structured interviews were conducted during the third trimester of pregnancy with ten expectant mothers with self-reported histories of sexual trauma. Participants were asked to describe their past sexual trauma experience, current maternity experience, and any relationship or connection between these life experiences. Four dominant categories emerged: (1) Negative consequences of sexual trauma, (2) Becoming a survivor, (3) Pregnancy: A new beginning beyond sexual trauma, and (4) the Integration of sexual trauma and motherhood. In addition, subsequent themes and sub-themes that emerged as a part of these categories are reported and discussed. Participants’ descriptions offer clinical insight into both the maladaptive and adaptive dynamics that bi-directionally interplay between women’s dual life experiences of sexual trauma and pregnancy.


Sexual traumaPregnancyPosttraumatic growth and resilienceWomen’s mental health

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009