The body as a site of knowledge: Tacit and embodied narratives of child sexual abuse
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionQualitative Social Work.2022, 1-16 10.1177/14733250221126933
Research on child sexual abuse has underacknowledged the multifaced, tacit and embodied dimensions, leaving the literature without a full picture of events that are often unspeakable, especially with regards to disclosure. This study thus placed emphasis on and highlighted the importance of increased awareness around lived lives and bodily narratives of child sexual abuse. The qualitative study consisted of 14 in-depth, retrospective interviews with Norwegian participants over the age of 18 who experienced child sexual abuse. The analysis shed light on the participants’ silenced and embodied experiences as children, captured by two overall narratives: a) the body speaks the truth and b) living with embodied messiness, complexity and confusion. The narratives that unfolded in participants’ recollections of their childhood embodied stories contain reflections on how the experiences are re-played within their bodies as adults. Study findings focus on participants’ embodied narratives of child sexual abuse – experiences that are often not captured by verbal language. The narratives brought forward in the interviews are linked with participants’ past experiences and current context, as well as interpersonal, emotional, cognitive and embodied processes, as part of the participants’ meaning making around their child sexual abusive histories. Study findings help explain embodied, tacit and complex dimensions concerning lived experiences of child sexual abuse. As such, this research speaks to the field of social work that encounters children and families facing this phenomenon.