Prevention of re-victimisation of sexually abused young girls in out-of-home care

The project is part of the BMBF-program „Funding of research in relation to sexual violence against children and young people in pedagogical contexts".

Women's Research Institute for Social Sciences (SoFFI F.) /
German Youth Institute (DJI)

SoFFI F.: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Helfferich (projectleader), Prof. Dr. Barbara Kavemann, Bianca Nagel, Sabine Weber, Petra Stromberger.
DJI: Dr. Heinz Kindler, Silvia Schuermann-Ebenfeld, Stefanie Wagner, Elisabeth Kraus.

Project term: 2014, August 1st to 2017, May 31

Subproject A: (sexual) interpretation and communication of adolescent girls affected by child sexual abuse (analysis of qualitative-recontructive interviews) and needs of skilled staff (SoFFi F.)

Subproject B: sexual scripts and risk behavior, research tools and statistical analysis (DJI)

The research project tackled prevention of sexual re-victimization of adolescent girls in out-of-home care. Even after placement due to sexual abuse this group is at high risk of experiencing further incidents of sexual violence and assault. Studying a larger number of sexually abused female young people led to a better understanding of processes of risk and protection. Moreover a concept for prevention-workshops on sexual education including prior training for staff and foster parents has been developed and tested withintereste d girls from the sample and their care persons. Studying and developing communicative competencies that help young people to speak about violence and sexuality and analyze the role of the caretakers for the development of trust and by this get a deeper understanding of re-victimization risks was one focus of this project. Another was analyzing subjective theories of girls concerning rape myths and self- understanding, agency and victimhood.

The qualitative subproject A has been carried out by Women‘s Research Institute for Social Sciences at the Research- and Innovation-Group at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Freiburg (FIVE). The project was managed by Prof. Dr. Cornelia Helfferich, senior researcher was Prof. Dr Barbara Kavemann.

Semi-narrative interviews with adolescent girls (N=52). Analysis: reconstruction of coping strategies, perception of sexual risks and agency, Reconstruction of the processes of re-interpreting the experience and integration of the violent events, development and implementation of a prevention-workshop for sexual education: dealing with sexual scripts and enhancing the capacity of self-protection competencies, assessing the individual further development of the participating girls within a shortterm longitudinal study.

The quantitative subproject B has been carried out by the German Youth Institute: Dr. Heinz Kindler, Silvia Schürmann-Ebenfeld

Standardized research methods have been used to gather data on following aspects: experiences of abuse and threat,
trauma-symptoms, general adaptability, sexual scripts and risk behavior, emotional security in first romantic relationships (semi-structured interviews aiming at attachment strategies), re-victimisation, resilience.

Key results
The research found that, despite traumatic problems and psychological disorders, for the girls and young women in residential care improvement towards lesser vulnerability after sexual abuse and other forms of endangerment was possible.
In order to adequately protect and support sexually abused adolescent girls, interventions and prevention need to combine trauma pedagogy, emancipatory sex education and violence prevention. Protection has to include entitlement to a self-determine sexuality, individual development and the licence to make mistakes without being judged.

Publication in English
Kavemann, Barbara; Helfferich, Cornelia; Kindler, Heinz; Nagel, Bianca (2018) Sexual re-victimisation of adolescent girls in institutional care with a history of sexual violence in childhood: empirical results and conclusions for prevention. Journal of Gender-Based Violence, Volume 2, Number 1, February 2018, pp. 9-24(16)
Download Article:

Here you will find the complete German publication list.

Prof. Dr. Barbara Kavemann: barbara.kavemann[at]
Prof. Dr. Cornelia Helfferich: helfferich[at]
Bianca Nagel MA: Bianca.nagel[at]
Dr. Heinz Kindler: kindler[at]