Chapter 4 Through the Looking-Glass: Child Sexual Abuse from the Inside-Out

In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations

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Abstract

Existing clinical literature on childhood sexual abuse (csa) typically explores the topic from an etic or ‘outside-in’ perspective. This is done through the use of diagnostic labels and theories that seek to describe the outcomes of csa from the clinician’s, researcher’s, or observer’s point of view. While there is merit in understanding the problem from an objective lens, the experience of sexual abuse is an intimate and personal one. As such, explorations of the topic must include an emic, phenomenological, or ‘inside-out’ perspective. Failure to privilege survivors’ voices within the scholarly discourse on csa results in a sanitized conversation about a topic that is inherently dangerous. To better understand the problem of csa, we have to be willing to write dangerously and read dangerously. This chapter explores the impact of sexual abuse from the dangerous lens of the survivor’s lived experience. First-person vignettes from the author’s own life are interwoven with excerpts from Lewis Carroll’s novel Through the Looking-Glass.

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