Theses Doctoral

Surviving to Transform: Six Cases of Gay Men Who Experienced Adult Rape and Their Learning Towards Post-Traumatic Growth

Torres, Steven David

The #MeToo movement was established as a grassroots initiative in Brooklyn by Tarana Burke, as a way to bring awareness to the commonality of sexual violence towards African American women. Despite the awareness brought by the movement, it was virtually not inclusive of men who have experienced sexual violence. This study intends to provide educators an understanding of this phenomenon, as well as provide practitioners, scholars, and organizations supporting gay male rape survivors a qualitative perspective beneficial to enhance support systems in order to foster post-traumatic growth.

This study answered questions of how participants described their experience of having been raped; how learning revealed itself during the participants’ journey towards post-traumatic growth; and what factors participants described that helped and/or hindered their ability to manage the experience, learn, and develop towards post-traumatic growth. Six individual in-depth cases are presented; each participating in a two-hour interview. Using Lifelines and Nohl’s (2015) five phase analysis of the unfolding of deep learning over time, this study demonstrated that Transformative Learning revealed itself throughout each of these cases.

As described by O’Sullivan et al. (2002), Transformative learning is “[an] experiencing [of] a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feeling, and actions. It is a shift of consciousness that dramatically and permanently alters our way of being in the world. Such a shift involves our understanding of ourselves and our self-locations; our relationships with other humans and with the natural world; our understanding of relations of power in interlocking structures of class, race, and gender; our body-awareness; our visions of alternative approaches to living; and our sense of the possibilities for social justice and peace and personal joy.” The study provides insight into the various systems and social relationships that help and/or hinder the interviewees’ learning experience, as well as how they managed their lives along the way. Moreover, this study demonstrates that Transformative Learning can take over 20-years, as well as that the process requires recalibration after encountering obstacles as learners journeyed towards post-traumatic growth.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Marsick, Victoria J.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 23, 2022