Between Voicelessness and Empowerment a Biographical Approach to Life Stories of Complex Traumatised Mothers

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: 422
Oral Presentation
Ute ZILLIG , University of Goettingen, Germany
Regarding currency and scope of sexualised violence against children my research takes a look at the long-term consequences for victim-survivors of these human rights abuses. With this perspective the social positioning of highly mentally burdened survivors comes into consideration. This paper is based on a biographical-sociological approach of the life stories of women, who are all patients of a traumaspecific psychiatric hospital and who were abused in their childhood. I would like to contribute first empirical results of my PhD project. Due to the fact that all the women I interviewed have children my results point to the major difficulties of being diagnosed, treated and seeing oneself as mentally ill and at the same time being a mother who is not supposed to be mentally tainted in any way. In my presentation I would like to illustrate that there is a strong self devaluation regarding the women’s motherhood that leads to a form of voicelessness of the interviewees towards actors, e.g. in medicine or social work. Based on further empirical results I will also take a closer look at ways of empowerment due to traumaspecific approaches the women have appropriated to themselves. I would like to discuss on the one hand to what extent a traumaspecific approach might overcome women’s voicelessness concerning issues of motherhood and on the other hand to what extent these women are somehow limited to pathologising labels of mental illness that detach their present mental symptoms from their biographical background.