Loyola University Maryland

Emerging Scholars

Marie Tylsova, L. Mickey Fenzel, Ph.D.

God Images, Self-Compassion, and Santification of Body in CSA Survivors

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The problem of childhood sexual assault (CSA) is a widespread issue across the world (Pereda, Guilera, Forns, & Gomez-Benito, 2009) and research clearly points to the negative effect of CSA on one’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual development (Barrett, 2009; Batool & Abtahi, 2017). Literature also evidences positive benefits of God images, sanctification of body, and self-compassion on one’s overall well-being across different populations (Dahm et al., 2015; Homan & Cavanaugh, 2013; Jacobson & Anderson, 2013). This non-experimental and correlational quantitative study examined relationships between God images, sanctification of body, self-compassion, and mental health well-being in 112 CSA survivors who were recruited on Amazon Mechanical Turk. The construct of God image was examined by Acceptance, Benevolence, and Presence scales (Lawrence, 1997). Sanctification as “a process through which aspects of life are perceived as having divine character and significance” (Pargament & Mahoney, 2005, p.183) was measured by Sacred Qualities and Manifestation of God in Body scales (Mahoney et al., 2005). The researcher obtained a diverse sample that consisted of more males (58%) than females (40.2%) who were of Asian (50.8%), White (33%), and African American (7.1%) ethnicities. Results showed that there were no significant gender differences in God images, self-compassion, and sanctification of body. As expected, self-compassion was positively correlated with sanctification of body scales. Additionally, significant group differences in psychological distress, self-compassion, and God images were present between Asians and Whites, between Christians and non-Christians, and between less and more educated participants. However, some of the results of the study were at odds with those expected based on the literature review. For instance, self-compassion and sanctification of body were not found to be negatively correlated with psychological distress. The uniqueness of this sample may have been a confound in this study. Characteristics of this sample will be discussed alongside the findings, implications for practices, and future research. 


Barrett, B. (2009). The impact of childhood sexual abuse and other forms of childhood adversity on adulthood parenting. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 18(5), 489-512. Retrieved from https://proxyln.researchport.umd.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ863267&site=eds-live&scope=site

Batool, S. S., & Abtahi, A. (2017). Psychosocial impact of childhood sexual abuse: Perspective of victims. Journal of Arts & Social Sciences, 4(2), 36-48. Retrieved from https://proxy-ln.researchport.umd.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=128207428&site=eds-live&scope=site

Dahm, K., Meyer, E. C., Neff, K. D., Kimbrel, N. A., Gulliver, S. B., & Morissette, S. B (2015). Mindfulness, self-compassion, posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, and
functional disability in U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Journal of Traumatic Stress, (ahead-of-print), 1-5.

Homan, K. J., & Cavanaugh, B. N. (2013). Perceived relationship with God fosters positive body image in college women. Journal of Health Psychology, 18(12), 1529-1539. doi:10.1177/1359105312465911

Jacobson, H. L., Hall, M. E. L., & Anderson, T. L. (2013). Theology and the body: Sanctification and bodily experiences. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 5(1), 41–50. doi.org/10.1037/a0028042

Lawrence, R. T. (1997). Measuring the Image of God: The God image inventory and the God image scales. Journal of Psychology & Theology, 25(2), 214-226. Retrieved from https://proxyln.researchport.umd.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001019902&site=eds-live&scope=site

Mahoney, A., Carels, R. A., Pargament, K. I., Wacholtz, A. B., Leeper, L. E., Kaplar, M., and Frutchey, R. (2005). The sanctification of the body and behavioral health patterns of college students. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 15(3), 221-238. doi: 10.1207/s15327582ijpr1503_3

Pargament, K. I., & Mahoney, A. (2005). Sacred matters: Sanctification as a vital topic for the psychology of religion. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 15(3), 179-198.

Pereda, N., Guilera, G., Forns, M., Gomez-Benito, J. (2009). The international epidemiology of child sexual abuse: A continuation of Finkelhor. Child Abuse & Neglect. 33(6), 331–342. doi.org.proxy-ln.researchport.umd.edu/10.1016/j.chiabu.2008.07.007