SMP Seminar Series Week 9

Image: Luis Quintero, Pexels

Please note, the subject matter of this week’s talks includes the experiences of people who have experienced sexual assault. 

Presentation 1: “I endured it, and it didn’t necessarily make me stronger”: Preliminary findings from a qualitative study with sexual assault victim/survivors

Abstract: One of the challenges faced by people who have experienced sexual assault is coming to terms with potential changes in their identity. These shifts may result from managing their own and others’ expectations about what it means to be a sexual assault victim/survivor, and assimilating these expectations with their pre-existing sense of self. In this presentation, I will discuss preliminary findings from interviews with 25 victim/survivors of sexual assault. Interviews were semi-structured and focussed on participants’ responses to their sexual assault experience(s), changes to their sense of self and relationships with others, and post-trauma mental health. Despite broad variance in the nature of the sexual assault experiences, similar themes of a loss of identity (and ability to form new identities) emerged. Isolation and a sense of alienation from oneself and others were also prominent themes. Participants also spoke about feeling unable to connect with advocacy movements around sexual assault that are specifically designed to foster inclusion with other victim/survivors. I will also speak about some methodological challenges and reflections on interviewing individuals who have experienced significant trauma. As this project is in the preliminary phases of analysis, feedback and input are welcome.  

Bio: Kate Western (she/her) is a 4th year PhD (Clinical Psychology) Candidate under the supervision of Professor Tegan Cruwys, Dr Olivia Evans, and Professor Michelle Ryan. Her research focusses on the impacts of sexual violence on identity. In particular, she is interested in the interplay between identity change and post-trauma mental health, and how identity can be harnessed as a psychological resource to support victim/survivors in the aftermath of trauma.     


Presentation 2: Using Network Analysis to Understand Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Abstract: The past decade has seen a rapid emergence of network models of psychopathology which challenge latent variable explanations of psychological disorders. David will provide an overview of how these approaches can extend our understanding of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), drawing on three recent examples from his own work.  

Bio: Associate Professor David Berle is the Convenor of the clinical psychology training programs at ANU and has research interests in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) and moral injury.