Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences

Degree Program

Public Health Sciences with a specialization in Health Promotion, PhD

Committee Chair

Combs, Ryan

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Wendel, Monica

Committee Member

Wendel, Monica

Committee Member

Harris, Lesley

Committee Member

Mahmoodi, Venus

Author's Keywords

child sexual abuse; sexual violence; community based; American Muslims; Islam; public health


Recognizing the significant mental, emotional, developmental and health consequences for victims of child sexual abuse (CSA) and sociopolitical consequences for families and communities in every cultural, ethnic, and religious group around the world, this study sought to determine key opportunities for prevention of CSA in a diverse American Muslim community using a public health socioecological lens, rooted in aspects of critical theory. While there is considerable research on situational and individual-level risk factors related to CSA cases, there is less research on the societal and community-level processes related to the primary prevention of CSA, especially among minoritized communities. Responding to the paucity of research on CSA prevention from a public health perspective in minoritized communities, this study represents the first exploration of how a diverse American Muslim community makes meaning related to CSA occurrence, the responses to finding out about CSA, and the community’s stage of readiness and barriers to address CSA. This qualitative study applied a blended methodological approach of “critical grounded theory,” using principles of participatory action research and informed by techniques of constructivist grounded theory. In addition, the Community Readiness model was utilized to assess the community’s stage of readiness towards addressing CSA. Through the community advisors’ insights and guidance, a total of 22 ethnically diverse participants were recruited comprised of six topic experts, six religious leaders, six community organizers, and four general community members. The multi-part theoretical model resulting from this study contributes to the literature by demonstrating how situational factors affecting CSA occurrence interact across socioecological levels and are embedded in a context-specific system consisting of an amalgamation of societal norms, cultural influences, religious interpretations, sociopolitical experiences, and self-reinforcing multi-level structures. Additionally, the theoretical model provided a framework for identifying three key opportunities for the prevention of CSA in this community that target the reinforcing structures of the larger societal norms of hegemonic masculinity, while still respecting the community’s cultural, religious, and sociopolitical contexts, and for framing the interventions as proactive prevention efforts, seeking to maintain family ties and guard the community’s children and reputation.