Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Sally Blowers

Committee Members

Kathleen Rayman, Patricia Hayes, Octavia Flanagan, Calvin Ross


Sexual assault is an international problem affecting hundreds of thousands of women each year. Significant psychological, physical, and financial consequences result from sexual assault. The prevalence of sexual assault suggests that nurses frequently encounter survivors yet minimal literature exists focusing on how nurses should adjust their care to meet the needs of this population.

The phenomenon of sexual assault has been widely studied from multiple perspectives and across disciplines. Likewise, studies of spiritual and religious beliefs and practices and their impact at the end-of-life and in disease, grief, and loss are extensive in nursing literature. However, a nominal number of studies examine the recovery process following sexual assault, resilience as an aspect of recovery, behaviors to aide in the recovery process, and the role which spirituality and religious beliefs and practices may play in that process. Therefore, a hermeneutical phenomenological study occurred to explore the meaning of the lived experience of sexual assault recovery and to increase understanding of the participants’ experiences of recovery. No other hermeneutical phenomenological study on this subject was present in the literature prior to this study. This method was congruent with the aims and the ultimate goals for the study. The aim of the study was to examine the lived experience of adult female sexual assault survivors while examining the influence of spirituality and religious practices upon the recovery process.

After performing a qualitative analysis of the transcripts from nine participant interviews, findings for this phenomenological study resulted in five constitutive patterns: forever changed with fourteen related themes; coping afterwards with five related themes; finding strength through faith and a greater being with six related themes; focusing on what helps with three related themes, and talking is healing with three related themes. This study provides insight into what it means to live as a sexual assault survivor and provides the impetus for multiple future studies potentially impacting future nursing practice.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.