Date of Graduation

Spring 5-17-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)


School of Nursing and Health Professions


Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

David A. Martinez, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Dellanira Garcia, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Theopia Jackson, Ph.D.


The physical and psychological impacts women face as a result of sexual trauma has been researched extensively. While sexual trauma affects all women, far less attention has been given to cultural impacts on Black female survivors. Black women have unique experiences with sexual trauma due to the intersection of racism and sexism. Given the sociohistorical context of Black women and sexual trauma, research is needed to understand how cultural factors may aid the recovery process of Black women. This qualitative study examined the lived experiences of Black women who survived sexual trauma to understand the role cultural factors may have played in aiding resilience and coping in the recovery of sexual trauma. This study focused on the lived experiences of 15 Black women. The inclusion criteria for all 15 participants were that they self-identified as females of African ancestry, experienced sexual trauma as an adult, recovering for more than a year, and resided in the San Francisco Bay Area. A thematic framework analysis was used to examine the lived experiences among the participants and a total of eleven themes emerged: (1) recovery process, (2) motivation to seek help, (3) self-blame, (4) blame from others, (5) cultural coping, (6) unpreparedness to deal with men, (7) legacy of dehumanization, (8) duality of Strong Black Woman myth, (9) culturally responsive treatment, (10) advice to others, and (11) treatment recommendations. The findings of this study demonstrated that Black women’s recovery process of sexual trauma was influenced by Black culture, systems of oppression, and societal perceptions individuals have of Black women; these, in turn, influence the mental health services they receive. Thus, investigating the experiences of Black women who have survived sexual trauma influenced by the intersections of race and gender, may aid providers in serving Black women who are in a post-assault recovery process.