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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Childhood maltreatment survivors

connell school news

08/13/10

Danny Willis

Assistant Professor Danny Willis has been awarded funding from the National Institutes of Health / National Institute of Nursing Research to serve as the principal investigator on a project entitled "Adult Male Survivors Healing from Childhood Maltreatment." The study seeks to identify, describe, and understand the phenomenon of healing, based on the experiences of adult male child maltreatment survivors who self-identify as having achieved positive outcomes.

Childhood maltreatment, including physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse, or neglect occurring before 18 years of age, is a serious public health problem associated with a variety of significant long-term aftereffects. While modest research exists on recovery issues and healing of adult women who experienced child abuse, less research is available on healing from childhood maltreatment among adult male survivors, who also experience negative impact on their health, quality of life, and psychosocial functioning.

Willis says that in his clinical work as a psychiatric mental health nurse, he has often been struck by the suffering associated with childhood maltreatment and the silence surrounding men's healing potentials after living through abuse in childhood. "I am excited to be able to do this research and for all those survivors who can be helped," he states. "I am ultimately interested in developing health promoting interventions and healing programs that will support men who have experienced abuse in childhood and are in need of health interventions."

Willis believes that a better understanding of the indicators and influences, both human and environmental, that support men's healing from childhood maltreatment will guide the development and testing of interventions for use with this population.

"This is a wonderful accomplishment," adds Susan Gennaro, dean of the Connell School of Nursing. "This important study will help to build the science in this critical field."