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“A Girl Child Ain’t Safe in a Family of Men”: Breaking the Secrecy Between African-American Mothers and Daughters about Familial Childhood Sexual Abuse
Geist-Martin, PatriciaLindemann, KurtLara, Irene
Keeping the secret of childhood sexual abuse creates unbelievable pressure for the carrier of that secret. Childhood sexual abuse is the sexual mistreatment of any child under the age of 18. It is a phenomenon shrouded in secrecy that affects children of every race, sex, culture, and ethnic group. Abuse suffered during childhood or adolescence breeds shame, distrust, and most of all secrecy. Children who have been abused may hold onto their secrets for months or even years. Unfortunately, cultural norms may also hinder the child from sharing their secret. As is the case in the African-American generational culture of secrecy, African-American mothers teach their children, especially their daughters, at very young age, not to relay information to anyone outside of their home, perpetuating the culture of “keeping your business out of the street.” This generational culture of secrecy comes at a very high cost to the child, breeding a future of long-term mental and emotional scars that follow them well into adulthood. This research is a qualitative study using an autoethnographic approach in order to investigate the communicative breaks in the relationships between African-American mothers and daughters who have survived childhood sexual abuse. I interviewed women from my immediate family and close friends concerning their experiences with familial childhood sexual abuse and the lack of communication they had with their mothers. The aim of this study is to understand what communicative elements hinder disclosure between African-American mothers and daughters.
Professional Studies and Fine Arts
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2015.
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