This article explores the geography of childhood sexual abuse by describing characteristics of the home, school, and community environments in which abused girls grew up.Results of this focused life story research involving 20 women survivors who narrated their childhood experiences suggest a topography of 20 distinct characteristics integral to the milieux of these abusive childhood homes. Dynamics of the home environment were reinforced in school and community environments. Implications for prevention and early, environmentally based interventions for girls at risk of abuse and retraumatization are discussed.
Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Health Maintenance Department, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
This research was funded through a National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institutes of Health grant F32 NR06817. I thank my mentor and postdoctoral sponsor, Afaf Ibrahim Meleis, PhD, FAAN, and my colleague, Patricia E. Stevens, RN, PhD. I am especially grateful to the courageous women who shared their stories in the hope of improving care for others.