First Advisor

Kenneth Parnell

First Committee Member

Stephen Wright

Second Committee Member

Matthew Tis

Third Committee Member

Melanie Moore

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Document Type


Date Created



College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Applied Psychology and Counselor Education, APCE Student Work


Rates of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are difficult to track due to the taboo nature and stigma surrounding the topic (McElvaney & Nixon, 2020). To address this nationwide crisis, mental health clinicians are relied upon to educate, assess, and treat accordingly. Yet, despite the ubiquitous nature of CSA, existing research has not yet examined non-offending fathers’ experience, a major support system and means of healing for children. This qualitative phenomenological study sought to capture the descriptions of non-offending fathers with children that have disclosed sexual abuse in an effort to better understand the struggles and needs for these fathers, as well as the lessons and guidance they can offer from their direct experiences in this regard. The purpose of this study was to examine the experience, perceptions, and effects on fathers and their relationship with their children after a disclosure CSA. The research questions guided this study were: What are the experiences of non-offending fathers after disclosure of CSA; What are the unique challenges non-offending-fathers face after CSA disclosure; and how have non-offending fathers seen their relationship change with their child after disclosure.

Ultimately, 1- to 2-hour semi structured interviews were completed with five fathers. The subsequent data were utilized to identify seven main themes: (a) putting the child first, (b) stigma, (c) availability of supports and resources, (d) experiencing therapy as a positive support, (e) experience of support differs by gender, (f) judicial impacts, and (g) impacts on the father-child dyad. Based on the findings of this study, implications were identified in the areas of future research directions, clinical training, and policy reform.

Abstract Format



208 pages

Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.