“Interventions for Black Women That Are Survivors of Child Sexual Assault” – Pearl Wickham


Author: Pearl Wickham

Department: Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement, UIC

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth

According to the National Resource Center on Violence Against Women in the black community, 1 in 4 black girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18 and 1 in 5 black women are survivors of rape. Most incidents of sexual abuse go unreported and survivors might suffer from mental health issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use, and suicidality (Davis, Ullman, Song, Tillman & Smith, 2010). African American women face barriers like rape myths, stereotypes about their sexuality, and secondary revictimization. In addition, prior negative interactions with legal, medical, and social service systems might prevent them from seeking resources. This is a result of the socio-historical context of sexual victimization of African American women that was legally and morally accepted (Tillman, Davis, Smith & Marks, 2010). Through a literature review, this research examined the availability and effectiveness of existing interventions including support groups, group and individual therapy, and additional initiatives that organizations have created for black women who are victims of child sexual abuse. Results show that there are few organizations within the Chicagoland area with interventions which are inclusive of African American women that are survivors of child sexual abuse. While some of the programs use evidence-based methods like psychoeducation which have been proven to be effective, there is no published information from the organizations on the measures used to ascertain the effectiveness of interventions for African American clients. Some policy recommendations are culturally sensitive training for institutions and organizations having a system that measures the success of their interventions for clients.

Keywords: Black /African American women, sexual assault, victims, survivors, interventions

Read more about Pearl's work here