Cancer Victim Identity for Individuals with Histories of Cancer and Childhood Sexual Abuse
- 105 Downloads
Identifying as a ‘cancer victim’ has been linked to adverse psychosocial sequelae in individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer. Being a childhood sexual abuse (CSA) survivor may predispose individuals towards a “victim” identity in general. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of identifying as a ‘cancer victim’ among CSA survivors who were diagnosed with cancer as adults, and to explore psychological factors associated with identification as a cancer victim. 105 adults reporting both a history of CSA and of having been diagnosed with cancer as an adult were recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk. Variables assessed included CSA severity, abuse-related powerlessness, general mastery, and cancer victim identity. Fifty-one percent of the sample endorsed a cancer victim identity. Path analysis revealed that abuse-related powerlessness was related to decreased feelings of general mastery, which was in turn associated with cancer victim identification (x 2 = .12, DF = 1, p < .73; RMSEA = .00; SRMR = .01: Bentler CFI = 1.0). From a clinical perspective, the results suggest that increasing general mastery in CSA survivors in the cancer setting may be an important mechanism for attenuating the risk for developing a cancer victim identity and, presumably, for downstream adverse psychosocial sequelae.
KeywordsOncology Identity Sexual abuse survivors Mastery
Funding was provided by National Cancer Institute (Grant Nos. R21CA173163, R25 CA081137).
- American Cancer Society. (2016). Cancer facts and figures 2016. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-047079.pdf.
- Basile, K. C., Smith, S. G., Breiding, M. J., Black, M. C., & Mahendra, R. R. (2014). Sexual violence surveillance: Uniform definitions and recommended data elements, version 2.0. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Google Scholar
- Briere, J. N. (1992). Child abuse and trauma: Theory and treatment of the lasting effects. Interpersonal violence: The practice series. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Dallam, S. J. (2010). A model of the retraumatization process: A meta-synthesis of childhood sexual abuse survivors’ experiences in healthcare. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Retrieved from KU ScholarWorks.Google Scholar
- Dukett, J. D. (2015). Childhood sexual abuse and identify development: The role of attachment and self-esteem. Retrieved from ISU ReD. (391).Google Scholar
- Fassler, I. R., Amodeo, M., Griffin, M. L., Clay, C. M., & Ellis, M. A. (2004). Predicting long-term outcomes for women sexually abused in childhood: Contribution of abuse severity versus family environment. Child Abuse and Neglect, 29, 269–284. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2004.12.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hazzard, A. (1998). Trauma-related beliefs questionnaire. In C. M. Davis, W. L. Yarber, R. Bauserman, G. Schreer, & S. L. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of sexuality-related measures (pp. 18–21). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
- Josselson, R. (1987). Finding herself: Pathways to identity development in women. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Lieblich, A., McAdams, D. P., & Josselson, R. (Eds.). (2004). Healing plots: The narrative basis of psychotherapy. The narrative study of lives series. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Merrill, L. L., Thomsen, C. J., Sinclair, B. B., Gold, S. R., & Milner, J. S. (2001). Predicting the impact of child sexual abuse on women: The role of abuse severity, parental support, and coping strategies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69, 992–1006. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.69.6.992.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Schachter, C. L., Stalker, C. A., Teram, E., Lasiuk, G. C., & Danilkewich, A. (2009). Handbook on sensitive practice for health care practitioners: Lessons from adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Ottowa: Public Health Agency of Canada.Google Scholar
- Zink, T., Klesges, L. M., Stevens, S., & Decker, P. (2009). The development of a sexual abuse severity score: Characteristics of childhood sexual abuse associated with trauma symptomatology, somatization and alcohol abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24, 537–546. doi: 10.1177/088626050831.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar