Sexual Revictimization: A Cautionary Note *
This chapter addresses the process of some instances of revictimization, through the lens of the repetition-compulsion phenomenon. The literature regarding sexual abuse in childhood and incidence of sexual abuse includes studies on subsequent revictimization in adulthood. Empirical observation that childhood victims of sexual assaults have a higher rate of subsequent revictimization in adulthood presents not only a fascinating observation, but also a clinical challenge. “Culturally correct” treatment for victims of sexual assault has recommended that therapists take a supportive, somewhat directive stance. The chapter explores the process of revictimization and some potential countertransference reactions. Among the pitfalls of working with patients presenting with a history of revictimization and comorbid diagnoses of Axis II disorders is the strong role reciprocity provoked by the transference/countertransference relationship. Therapist concern with revictimization, coupled with a sense of “gender shame”, may contribute to the male therapist’s difficulty in addressing the repeat victim’s unconscious contribution.