Claire Cunnington

Department of Sociological Studies

PhD student

Full contact details

Claire Cunnington
Department of Sociological Studies
Elmfield Building
Northumberland Road
S10 2TU

MA Social Research Methods (University of Sheffield)
BA (Hons) Archaeology and Prehistory (University of Sheffield

Research interests
  • Recovery and resilience
  • Identity and stigma
  • Media portrayal of victims/survivors and perpetrators
  • The history of CSA

Thesis title: From Victim to Survivor: What actions do survivors take to redefine their identity when recovering from Child Sexual Abuse?

Within both UK and international arenas, high profile cases have heightened public consciousness of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and contributed to an unprecedented increase in the number of reported cases of historical abuse (Harker et al. 2015). There has been a significant legal and governmental response to this growth in disclosure, with formal enquiries into some of these cases (Jay 2014; Lampard & Marsden 2015). The Children’s Commissioner has gone as far to state that current estimates of CSA incidence could be the ‘tip of iceberg’ (Longfield 2015). However, in the context of wide-ranging cuts to public expenditure in the third sector, many support-organisations have found themselves unable to cope with growing demand and decreased funding.

Responding to the above context this research takes a holistic approach to recovery from child sexual abuse (CSA) and places victims/survivors at the centre. Using a salutogenic approach it will involve qualitative interviews with adult survivors further through their recovery journey to identify useful actions they have taken to improve their health and wellbeing. As CSA inherently means a lack of agency the research will employ an overarching theme of moving from 'passive' victim to 'active' survivor to create resources for professionals and individuals. The holistic approach will encompass any actions taken, from engagement with NHS and third sector support, to engagement with the criminal justice system, religious and spiritual support, education, personal relationships and anything else participants identify as significant in their recovery. Without prejudging the research outputs the aim will be to disseminate the resources as widely as possible through third sector umbrella groups and via key supporters.

Research group


  • Dr Tom Clark (primary)
  • Dr Jadwiga Leigh (secondary)
  • 2016 - Wellcome Trust PhD Studentship
  • 2014 - Postgraduate Support Scheme (PSS) scholarship (University of Sheffield)
Professional activities

I have worked for 20 years in the NHS, higher education and third sector in advice work, complaints and customer service.