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A story of stories

The impact of caring for a foster child with a history of sexual abuse on family life
PhD ceremony:Ms S.D. (Dorijn) Wubs
When:November 01, 2018
Supervisor:prof. dr. H.W.E. (Hans) Grietens
Co-supervisor:prof. dr. L. (Laura) Batstra
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
A story of stories

Sexual abuse has an enormous impact on a child’s life. Such experiences strongly affect the way children view themselves, the people surrounding them, and the world. Additionally, sexual abuse experiences can result in several internalizing and externalizing mental health problems, as well as in physical health problems. Fostering a child who experienced sexual abuse by a trusted person prior to placement in a foster family, is a complex, dynamic, and unique endeavor, as is illustrated by the results of Project Iris. In the dissertation “A story of stories” three themes that are faced by families fostering a victim of child sexual abuse are reviewed: safety/unsafety, disclosures of sexual abuse, and the parental and professional dimension of being a foster parent. Project Iris underlines that raising a foster child who suffered sexual abuse, impacts individual family members, the manner in which individuals relate to other family members, and the family as a system. Relationships within the foster family, which are core to successful fostering, seem helpful and healing, but may also be threatening to these foster children. Achieving a balance between the good and the bad of familial relationships is an ongoing and never-ending process, as each foster family member continuously grows and changes.