Degree Name

DSN (Doctor of Science in Nursing)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Joy Wachs

Committee Members

Gail Gerding


Child sexual abuse has existed since earliest recorded history. It is believed that one in three females and one in five males are sexually abused before their 18th birthday, and many researchers believe this is a gross underestimation of the problem. Child sexual abuse has been studied extensively from the perspective of the victim. Child sexual abusers have been studied over the last few decades but with inconsistent definitions and methods applied among studies. This qualitative study explored the childhood reflections of 8 incarcerated child sexual abusers in a southern Appalachian prison. One-on-one in-depth interviews were conducted at the prison with the 8 male participants. After multiple readings of the transcripts, analysis was completed and the stories emerged. The investigator used van Manen's descriptive-interpretive process. This process involved guided existential reflections based on spatiality, corporeality, temporality, and relationality. The existentials were used as an aid to understand how incarcerated adult male child sexual abusers experienced childhood. Questions were asked using the existentials in order to better understand childhood experiences in this underserved and often forgotten population. Data were managed using NVivo qualitative data analysis software. Textural themes were organized into essential structural themes which were abstracted into the essential categorical themes of failure to root, what you see is what you learn, these are the moments of your life, and stupid is as stupid does. All participants demonstrated failure to root as evidenced by their inability to recall their childhood homes or their play life during childhood. Results indicated that participants developed a sense of self resulting from external perceptions which left them with a disembodied concept of self. A disembodied concept of self was demonstrated through the experiences of both failure to root and what you see is what you learn. These are the moments of your life is the abstraction of the participants' method of coping with the abuses they suffered from different family members. The resulting personal view of lived body is represented by the abstraction of stupid is as stupid does. Results are discussed and related to nursing practice, education, and research.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.