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Reading the language of the body: A creative investigation of somatic symptoms in relation to trauma in women who have experienced childhood rape

The experience of sexual violence is a global phenomenon and a lived reality for girls and women. In the aftermath of rape, girls and women are often forced to carry the multiple burdens of not only their psychological response to sexual violation but also the complex somatic (physical) responses located within, and emerging through, the body.

This study will focus on two areas of inquiry: 1) the somatically (physically) experienced aftermath in the years following childhood rape with particular regard to the ways in which women recognise and interpret their somatic responses to trauma of this nature; and 2) the ways in which professional health care providers interpret somatic symptoms in adult female patients who may have experienced childhood rape.

It is intended that the outcome of this survey will help to deepen professional health care understandings of somatic responses to childhood rape in order to better assist women who may have experienced such trauma.


Brenda Downing (PhD Candidate)
Dr Lekkie Hopkins (PhD Supervisor)

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