A Study on Mother's Experience in Disclosure of Incestuous Sexual Abuse

어머니의 근친성학대 드러냄(disclosure) 경험에 관한 현상학적 연구

  • Received : 2009.06.16
  • Accepted : 2009.08.13
  • Published : 2009.08.31


The incestuous assault tends to remain a family secret and not easily be disclosed. Mothers of the victims are usually regarded as the responsible person holding the key to decide whether it should be disclosed or not. Sometimes, therefore, they are blamed with the charge of connivance. The purpose of this study was to explore the essence of mothers' experience of disclosing and to understand the subjective meaning given to this experience. Seven mothers of the female victims of incestuous assault were recruited and interviewed. The collected data was analyzed by hermeneutic phenomenological method. The essential theme of the mothers' disclosing experiences could be summarized as "overcoming pain by going through pain". This major theme contained three sub-themes: "wanting to vent the deepest tormenting pain", "getting hurt again by disregard and indifference from others", "attempting to tear open the festering wound and to feel recovered". Mothers experienced the disclosing process as revisiting the hidden wound to find the meaning of the incident and to cultivate the necessary skill and power to overcome the pain. Especially, mother's disclosing process was characterized by constant restructuring of past trauma through mother's will and knowledge, acknowledging the unmodifiable past, interpreting other people's responses, and, finally, constantly interacting with sociocultural context. The study result stressed the importance of considering the whole array of difficulties and meanings experienced by mothers in the disclosing process. Social work services should provide more professional and sensitive care when mothers try to disclose the dark secret of incestuous assault.