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Author: Elspeth McInnes

Abstract

Child sexual abuse is a contested social field where victims can face a range of risks arising from disclosure, including fear of threats and punishment by the perpetrator, lack of language or understanding to identify what has happened to them and the reactions of others, such as non-offending parents, police, child protection workers and educators. Unlike other forms of child abuse, child sexual abuse is always a criminal act, normally denied by alleged perpetrators, often involving investigations by child protection authorities and police. Disclosing sexual abuse can leave victims disbelieved, blamed for making such claims and isolated from safety and recovery processes. Despite these barriers, young children who are experiencing abuse can indirectly disclose what is happening to them through their behaviour and through drawings depicting their experiences. The interpretations placed on children’s behaviour and the meanings attributed to their drawings are vulnerable to the beliefs of relevant adults, such as teachers, and their reactions. Improving educators’ and other relevant professionals’ abilities to interpret children’s behaviours and drawings after abuse is important to improving the safety and recovery of victims. Using a collection of drawings from child victims the chapter identifies some common elements of abuse disclosures and the relationships between the drawings and the victims’ emotional states. It briefly reviews some of the key behavioural differences marking normal and concerning behaviour of young children at school.

In: Where To From Here? Examining Conflict-Related and Relational Interaction Trauma
This work provides an inter-disciplinary exploration of the aftermath of trauma arising from social conflict and the wounds dealt through interpersonal relations of loss, abuse and torture. Contributing authors examine how individuals and societies come to terms with traumatic injuries and disruption. Disciplinary perspectives cross the boundaries of textual analysis, sociology and psychology to offer pathways of perception and recovery. From the conflicts in Rwanda and Lebanon to the ethical challenges of journalism and trauma, loss and dementia, domestic violence and child sexual abuse, as well as the contributions of literary texts to rendering conflict, this volume enables readers to find their own resonance with the rupture and recovery of trauma. Contributors are Kim M. Anderson, Lyn Barnes, Catherine Ann Collins, Fran S. Danis, Stefanie Dinkelbach, Lyda Eleftheriou, Kirsten Havig, Anka D. Mason, Elspeth McInnes, Joan Simalchik, Stephanie Tam and Rana Tayara.
Traumatic experiences with an overwhelming life-threatening feel affect numerous people’s lives. Death and disablement through accident, illness, war, family violence, natural and human-induced disaster can be experienced variously at an individual level through to whole communities and nations. Traumatic memories are intrusive and insistent but fragmented and distorted by the power of sensory information frozen in time. This volume examines the ways individuals, families, communities and nations have engaged with representations of traumas and the ethical dimensions embedded in those re-presentations. Contributors also explore the work of recovering from trauma and finding resilience through working with narrative and embodied forms such as dance and breathing. The ubiquity of trauma in human experience means that pathways to recovery differ, emerging from the way each engages with the world. Sharing, and reflecting on, the ways each copes with trauma contributes to its understanding as well as pathways to recovery and new strengths. Contributors are Svetlana Antropova, Peter Bray, Kate Burton, Mark Callaghan, Marie France Forcier, Monica Hinton, Gen’ichiro Itakura, Danielle Schaub, Zeina Tarraf and Paul Vivian.
Trauma and Meaning Making highlights multiple practices of meaning making after traumatic events in the lives of individuals and communities. Meaning making consists both in a personal journey towards a new way to exist and live in a world shattered by trauma and in public politics locating and defining what has happened. In both perspectives, the collection evaluates the impact achieved by naming the victim/s and thus the right of the victim/s to suffer from its aftermath or by refusing to recognise the traumatic event and thus the right of the victim/s to respond to it. A range of paradigms and techniques invite readers to consider anew the specificities of context and relationship while negotiating post-traumatic survival. By delineating how one makes sense of traumatic events, this volume will enable readers to draw links between practices grounded in diverse disciplines encompassing creative arts, textual analysis, public and collective communication, psychology and psychotherapy, memory and memorial.
In: What Happened? Re-presenting Traumas, Uncovering Recoveries
In: What Happened? Re-presenting Traumas, Uncovering Recoveries

Children who are chronically stressed or traumatized are vulnerable to becoming chronically hyper-vigilant or dissociative and withdrawn. Such children have difficulty achieving a learning state receptive to new information. They may ‘shut down’ or be highly reactive to environmental stimuli, frequently responding with aggression. This chapter reports on a project to support a Year 2-3 teacher to create a safe learning environment for each student in a class that included several chronically stressed and traumatized 6 to 8 year-old children. The project was developed from a partnership between Salisbury Communities for Children, researchers from the University of South Australia, and a metropolitan primary school. It provided ongoing teacher professional learning about brain development and the emotional and behavioural impacts of chronic stress and trauma to build understanding that would result in improvements in practice. Changes were made in the following areas; classroom behaviour management approaches; teacherchild interactional quality, attention to the room environment, class routines promoting social and emotional development; opportunities for supported teacher reflection on practice; and links with relevant professional and service networks supporting children and families. These strategies were supported by an outreach worker from Salisbury Communities for Children whose role included forging relationships with schools and communities and identifying resources to support children’s improved learning at school. Data collected included teacher and outreach worker interviews, children’s recall of feeling words, and the pattern of class peer relationships across the school year. By the end of the year the number of feelings words in children’s vocabulary were found to have increased significantly, and the number of mutual friendships in the class had shown steady improvement. These early findings indicate that the project was highly effective in creating positive changes in the children’s ability to identify emotions and to develop friendships.

In: How Trauma Resonates: Art, Literature and Theoretical Practice