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Spaces of dissociation: The impacts of childhood sexual abuse on the personal geographies of adult survivors

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    Rights statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:Willis, A., Prior, S. and Canavan, S. (2015), Spaces of dissociation: the impact of childhood sexual abuse on the personal geographies of adult survivors. Area. doi: 10.1111/area.12254, which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291475-4762/earlyview. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

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Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Early online date15 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


The experiences of survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) have received almost no attention in geography. However, activists and therapists working with survivors have long recognized that CSA has spatial impacts and that finding some sense of control over one’s environment is an important step in recovering from this trauma. By bringing the stories of three adult women who are survivors of CSA into conversation with debates in human geography about the habitation of space and place, this psycho-social paper goes some small way towards addressing this oversight. Set in the context of the high prevalence of CSA in all communities, we argue that efforts to understand everyday, domestic and marginalized geographies need to consider the potential impact of abuse. By understanding psycho-social pathways by which abuse impacts on individuals we highlight how violence and trauma can impact on personal geographies in a myriad of ways.

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