Sexual violence, disidentification, and long-term trauma recovery: A process-oriented case study analysis

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5 Scopus citations


Psychotherapy for survivors of sexual assault often focuses on recovery from acute posttraumatic stress symptoms. Little research has investigated treatments conducted when an asymptomatic patient seeks treatment for a traumatic event that occurred many years prior to starting therapy. This study draws on current literatures about rape recovery to frame the case history of Michelle, a 30-year-old woman who was raped at age 17. Using Herman's trauma theory, Kohut's self-psychology, and feminist social science research about gendered violence, this case study illustrates the complicated dimensions of trauma bonds, whereby rape survivors harbor positive feelings toward their rapists. Using detailed transcripts from the 50-week treatment, this study illustrates clinical strategies for helping a rape survivor move from intellectualizing and distancing to emotional connection, acceptance, and recovery. Particular attention is paid to Michelle's identification with her perpetrator and the clinical implications for the therapist-patient relationship in cases of long-term trauma recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)556-578
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • adult survivor
  • clinical issues
  • females
  • gender issues
  • intimate partner violence
  • mental health
  • rape
  • sexual assault
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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