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Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Woolf$
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Ann Martin and Kathryn Holland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780989082624

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780989082624.001.0001

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A Healing Center of One’s Own

A Healing Center of One’s Own

Woolf’s Legacy and Public Responses to Child Abuse

(p.109) A Healing Center of One’s Own
Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Woolf

Marie Lovrod

Karen Wood

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores Virginia Woolf's legacy and public responses to child sexual abuse by drawing on ongoing experiences of working with feminist community organizations, with particular emphasis on the challenges involved in meeting silence with sustained social support for healing. Woolf's autobiographical writings reveal that she and her sister, Vanessa, were sexually abused by their elder stepbrothers in youth. Consequently, Louise DeSalvo (1999) argues that Woolf's legacy has precipitated new dimensions of analysis regarding her bouts of “madness” and the operations of interpersonal and social privilege and power. The chapter considers why it seems so challenging to hold public space that supports healing for people who were sexually abused as children. It argues that this recurring scenario is informed by multiple and competing narratives about the connections between child sexual abuse and dominating power, and that Woolf's non-fiction writing has helped to illuminate these conditions for us.

Keywords:   child sexual abuse, healing, public space, power, non-fiction

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