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Searching for safe space: the absent presence of childhood sexual abuse in human geography

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In 1993, Julia Cream published an article deconstructing the politics surrounding the ‘cluster’ of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) diagnoses in Cleveland, UK. In 2014, in a viewpoint article in this journal, Dowler, Cuomo, and Laliberte called for a change in higher education governance, after the widely publicised Penn State CSA scandal. Within this 20-year period, these were two of only a handful of articles to be published in geography, focusing on CSA. Upwards of one in eight people in the UK, North America, Australia and New Zealand are survivors of CSA. Other social science disciplines have established the impact CSA can have on mental health, relationships and life choices, all of which are lived out in space and place. CSA survivors are also over-represented amongst geographically marginalised groups. We argue that human geography's silence on CSA represents a significant oversight not only in terms of understandings people's relations to, use of and perceptions of space and place but also in terms of contributing to the silencing of survivors. We call for a recognition that this absent presence is associated with individual and social processes of dissociation and denial.
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Keywords: abuso sexual infantil; childhood sexual abuse; disociaciĆ³n; dissociation; sobrevivientes; survivors; trauma; voice; voz

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Counselling and Psychotherapy, School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh, Old Medical School, Doorway 6, Teviot Place, Edinburgh,EH8 9AG, UK

Publication date: November 26, 2015

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