Understanding the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse
Feminist Revolutions in Theory, Research and Practice
By Sam Warner
Series Editor: Jane Ussher
Routledge – 2007 – 304 pages
Series: Women and Psychology
Child sexual abuse is a global problem that negatively affects many women and girls. As such, it has long been of concern to feminists, and more recently mental health activists. This book draws on this revolutionary legacy, feminism and post-structuralism to critically examine current perceptions of women, girls and child abuse in psychology, psychiatry and the mass media, and to re-evaluate mainstream and feminist approaches to this subject.
The book aims to contribute to the ongoing development of a knowledge-base for working with abused women and girls, and demonstrates the need to question the use of formulaic methods in working with abused women and girls. It calls for an explicit concern with politics, principles and ethics in the related areas of theory, research and practice.
Using research into women who have been sexually abused in childhood, and who are detained in maximum security mental health care, Sam Warner explores and identifies key principles for practice. A social recovery model of intervention is developed, and case study examples are used to demonstrate its applicability in a range of practice areas. These include abuse psychotherapy; expert witness reports in child protection; with mothers of abused girls; and with women and girls in secure care contexts.
This thorough investigation of this emotive issue provides a clear theoretical and practical framework for understanding and coping with child sexual abuse. This book will be of interest to anyone who works with children and adults who have been abused. This includes clinical psychologists, therapists and other professionals that work in mental health, psychotherapy and social services; and legal settings within both community and secure care contexts. It should also be essential reading for students and academics in this area.
"The number of books on trauma, PTSD, and sexual abuse churned out each year is astounding. One is tempted to believe that there cannot be much left to be said on these thoroughly researched subjects. However, Sam Warner's Understanding the Effects of Childhood Abuse approaches, from an entirely novel angle, the theory, research and practice surrounding childhood sexual abuse. The result is a compelling study that forces an overturning of current assumptions about the way that the public and the psychological and legal "experts" understand the effects of sexual abuse on children and adults, and how this understanding affects treatment of survivors. … The result of Warner's feminist-post-structuralist rethinking of the effects of child sexual abuse is nothing short of a revolution in psychology, culminating in a radical political agenda that transforms research, theory and practice as they relate to child sexual abuse. … Understanding the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse is a refreshing new voice in violence and abuse studies. It is a must-read for practitioners in the field, as it offers a spectrum of practical therapeutic approaches to suit individual patients and situations. Students would benefit from Warner's study, as would any educated reader who is interested in rethinking the way our societies work to suppress some knowledge (such as "violence begins at home and generally at the hands of a male you know intimately") and elevate as "self-evident truth" other, more convenient understandings ("mental patients are personality-disordered")." - Wendy C. Hamblet, Ph.D., Metapsychology Reviews Online
"An elegantly written and practically useful text for students of gender and welfare in a variety of disciplines, as well as those on qualifying and post-qualifying programmes in social work, clinical psychology, psychiatry and nursing. Its conclusions and recommendations for ethical practice in the area of sexual abuse show considerable sagacity and are practical, pragmatic and compassionate." - Professor Sue White, Lancaster University
Part 1. Theory. Setting Scenes: Developing a Feminist, Post-structuralist Perspective. Disordered and Abnormal: Mainstream Misrecognition of Women and Child Sexual Abuse. Dangerous Desires: Child Sexual Abuse, Mental Disorder, and the Mass Media. Changing Concerns in Theory and Activism: Women, Child Sexual Abuse and Radical Politics. Part 2. Research. Contingent Morality and Ethical Research Practices: Critical Uses of Interviewing and Q-methodology. Narratives of Displacement: Women’s Routes into Secure Hospitals. Embodying Disorder: Representing Women and Theorising the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse. Special Care and Child Sexual Abuse: Working with Women in Secure Hospitals. Part 3. Practice. Visible Therapy and Child Sexual Abuse: Critical Approaches to Working with Women and Girls. Between Investigation and Protection: Revising the Role of the Expert Witness in Child Care Proceedings. Reconstructing Blame and Re-enactment: Motherhood, Child Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence. Beyond Deviance and Damnation: Working with Women and Girls in Secure Care Contexts.
Sam Warner is a consultant clinical psychologist and research fellow, Department of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK.