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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Making silence knowledge : towards the educational implications of intimate childhood sexual assault Wisewoolf, Joanna


"How can I know what I know if I don't know what you have done to my body?" I am a woman victim, survivor, and healer of intimate childhood sexual assault. I remembered these assaults when I was in my early thirties, but did not deal with the assaults, family denial of them, or the emotional, intellectual, physical, sexual and spiritual consequences of the assaults and denial until writing this thesis. My own knowing -- my thinking, confidence, memory, and my sense of being able to speak and contribute to the truths of the world -- has been contaminated by the assaults, the family denial, and my lived consequences of the assaults. In this research, I work to make my silence knowledge through intimate reflective autobiography. First, I explore the literature of intimate assault from the perspective of silence and knowing. Then, I explore the educational literature of women and knowing from the perspective of intimate assault. Then, I relate my crone/ology of making silence knowledge. Then, I testify to my experiences of intimate assault and healing in a series of narrative poems. Finally, I conclude with theoretical frameworks of assault, silence and healing, and with implications for educators' personal action and educational praxis. We are all implicated in the oppression and betrayals of intimate childhood sexual assault. Our silence as assailants, witnesses and victims protects and condones the assaults. When we develop our felt sense of intimate assault, we become knowing witnesses, survivors and healers able to resist intimate assault and other forms of emotional, intellectual, physical, sexual and spiritual abuse and create knowledge based on the truths of women’s experiences. This work of making silence knowledge stretches from individual personal awareness to the content, processes, relationships, structures, and goals of educational institutions. Making silence knowledge is the work of educators committed to naming and resisting women’s oppression and the related oppressions of race, culture, class, age, and sexual orientation within our educational praxis.

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