Trotta, Sarah O.

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  • Publication
    A Two-Paper Conceptualization of Safety After Sexual Assault: The Case of Edith
    (2018-05-14) Trotta, Sarah O.
    Establishing safety after a sexual assault is a central task of clinical social work with survivors of sexual violence. These two papers seek to build the argument that the concept of safety for survivors of sexual assault is profoundly nuanced and dependent upon a person’s unique history, personality, and life circumstances, and that the establishment of safety for a survivor of sexual assault requires precise clinical attention to each individual. This theoretical-conceptual dissertation first explores the trauma treatment literature and the ways that safety is understood and prioritized, followed by a discussion of additional theoretical frameworks that can strengthen a clinical conceptualization of safety for survivors of sexual assault. This dissertation asserts that social work is uniquely positioned to attend to the construction of safety through its consideration of the impact of resource insecurity, and social disparities such as sexism, racism, and homophobia on a person’s psyche. Using the case of Edith, the author will demonstrate the importance of an internal sense of safety in the mind of a survivor. With attention to the ethical implications of case writing with regard to Edith’s confidentiality and consent, this dissertation uses a case study methodology to demonstrate a clinical conceptualization of safety after sexual assault relying upon the theoretical frameworks discussed. The description of the case of Edith focuses on the ways in which her character construction, attachment history, and current relational patterns are central to her experience of safety after a sexual assault.