'Compulsory Sexuality': A Guide to Healing?

Jo Woodiwiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The childhood sexual abuse recovery literature presents childhood sexual abuse as something with inevitable and devastating effects, which can be identified in the lives of adult women. These effects include a problematic relationship with issues relating to sex. This paper presents findings from an in-depth study of sixteen women in Britain, which looked at women's engagement with the recovery literature aimed at adult victims of childhood sexual abuse and, in particular, that aspect of the literature which dealt with sex. The paper highlights some of the problematic assumptions that underlie much of this literature before examining how women engage with this literature. The findings suggest that women, including those who have no knowledge or memories of having been sexually abused as children, use the ideas promoted in this literature to reinterpret child and adult experiences within a narrative framework of childhood sexual abuse and construct themselves as victims of such abuse and, in doing so, ignore those external factors which may better explain or improve their adult lives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-359
Number of pages15
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2008


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