Kate Rose teaches sociology at Northern Arizona University and holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from University of Montpellier, France. She is the editor of Displaced: Migration, Indigeneity, and Trauma (Routledge, 2020), has given writing workshops for women on overcoming trauma, and is a survivor who uses creative writing to portray her experiences.
Starhawk’s speculative novel City of Refuge (2015) depicts rape trauma and its consequences in a dystopian society that is the logical conclusion of patriarchy. French psychiatrist Muriel Salmona’s research on how traumatic memory contributes to inequality and how reconstructing narrative can heal survivors places her similarly at the intersection of story and activism. City of Refuge is a literary experiment focused on survivors of institutionalized sexual assault, while Salmona’s work maps consequences of traumatic memory linked to childhood sexual violence. The basic tenet of narrative medicine that life experience affects mental and physical health coincides with Salmona’s critique of how mental illnesses are often erroneously considered by psychiatrists as isolated genetic or congenital defects. They are seen as manifestations of individual pathology, devoid of a past or a context. This view may lead to sexual violence to continueto be unpunished. Starhawk explores trauma through sexually-enslaved characters and the problems they encounter even after freedom is gained. Conjugating Salmona’s research and Starhawk’s novel may help to spread awareness of traumatic memory’s mechanisms, through illustrating dissociation, risk, emotional anesthesia, disjunction, and male versus female conditioned models of reliving trauma through inflicting it or having it inflicted. The gap between those suffering from traumatic memory and those who are not is wide, and often survivors are blamed for behaviors that are determined by patterns neurologically linked to trauma. Understanding survivors requires awareness of symptoms so that they can be treated effectively through reassembling and contextualizing narratives
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
"Sexual Violence, Traumatic Memory, and Speculative Fiction as Action,"
Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dignity/vol5/iss1/5