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October 27, 2016
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Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

Handbook helps health care practitioners deal sensitively with survivors of childhood sexual abuse

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Mar 9/09| For Immediate Release


kevin Crowley, Associate Director
News& Editorial Services (519) 884-0710 ext. 3070


Dr. Candice L. Schachter, Adjunct Professor, School of Physical Therapy
University of Saskatchewan (519) 972-1637 or

WATERLOO – A Canadian research team has developed a handbook to help health care practitioners – from physicians to physical therapists – provide sensitive care for male and female adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. 

Handbook on Sensitive Practice for Health Care Practitioners: Lessons from Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse outlines nine principles of practice that facilitate survivors’ sense of safety during health care encounters. The principles and guidelines are based on collaborative research with health care practitioners and adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. 

Conservative estimates suggest that at least 20 percent of adult women and between five to 10 percent of adult men have a history of childhood sexual abuse. Many live with chronic conditions that bring them into contact with a variety of health care practitioners who have little training about childhood sexual abuse, and who may inadvertently re-traumatize individuals during routine examinations. 

"The interactions between health care practitioners and survivors are often fraught with difficulty and discomfort for the survivor," said lead researcher Candice Schachter from the University of Saskatchewan. "Feeling safe in health care encounters is crucial for a survivor due to the violations experienced in the past." 

The first edition of the handbook, published in 2001, focused on female survivors of childhood sexual abuse. In the second edition, the handbook expands its scope to include male survivors of child sexual abuse and health care practitioners from 10 disciplines. Survivors, practicing clinicians, students, academics, professional associations and licensing bodies reviewed the handbook to ensure its clinical relevance.

The study was conducted by Candice Schachter from the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Physical Therapy; Eli Teram and Carol Stalker from Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Social Work; Gerri Lasiuk from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing, and Alanna Danilkewich from the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine. 

“The handbook is an essential read for all those in the human service field,” said Rick Goodwin, executive director of The Men’s Project in Ottawa Ontario. “It speaks knowledgeably to the complex issues trauma survivors – both male and female – face and gives the reader confidence to do the right thing.” 

“This handbook should be required reading not only for health care practitioners in training, but also for those who have been in the field for years,” said Anne Penniston-Grey, counselor at the Regina Women’s Community Centre and Sexual Assault Line. 

The handbook is offered free of charge in English ( and French ( by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Clearinghouse on Family Violence.


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