Added: December 9, 2006 – Last updated: September 5, 2015


Author: Carol E. Barringer

Title: The Survivor's Voice

Subtitle: Breaking The Incest Taboo

Journal: NWSA Journal: A Publication of The National Women's Studies Association

Volume: 4

Issue: 1

Year: Spring 1992

Pages: 4-22

ISSN: 1040-0656 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1527-1889 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | U.S. History | Offenders: Fathers, Grandfathers; Types: Child Sexual Abuse, Incestual Rape; Victims: Daughters, Girls, Granddaughters, Testimonies


Link: EBSCOhost (Restricted Access)

Link: JSTOR (Restricted Access)



»The taboo of speaking of incest is enforced in three ways: by direct silencing, by violence and threats, and by discrediting anyone who defies this taboo. These methods of enforcement are used by both abusers and other family members who often blame the incest victim. This article articulates how language is a central part of the struggle of incest survivors to vocalize their "unspeakable" experiences as an integral part of healing. By close analysis of the writings of incest survivors, Barringer shows how "in beginning to speak about abuse, the survivor's voice is tentative, hidden, terrified." By using escapism, euphemisms, and fragmentation in their stories, survivors can create a space from which they can selectively disclose experiences, reflecting the psychological need for boundaries and safety. Narratives and journals become an essential tool for remembering, re-experiencing, and healing. Ultimately, feminists must listen to their stories to recognize and receive part of our collective history as women, or the vocalization of incest survivors, their "coming to voice" will never be completed.« (Source: NWSA Journal)

»Discusses incest and sexual abuse of children and the inability of its victims to speak out on the experience due to fear and intimidation. Examines a number of books written in the 1980's in which the victims, having confronted their fears, provide personal recollections of sexual abuse.« (Source: America: History and Life)

Wikipedia: Child sexual abuse, Incest