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By Alison Healicon (auth.)

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Sample text

It dismembers the thing, destroying its organic unity, treating its parts and properties as autonomous. ’ That is, in its capacity to define, language is inherently violent because essential truths (of the thing or indeed identity) are diminished or destroyed and can only be made meaningful within discursive constraints. Zizek (2009: 57) suggests there is also a ‘fantasmatic dimension’ to language which further delimits, in this case, the articulation of abuse. The fantasy of the ‘innocent’ victim overdetermines the way in which this identity position is perceived by the individual and others.

Women who have experienced sexual violence position themselves in relation to rape myths and victim blaming ideology, to both question the severity and reality of their experiences, and to assess how they are presenting themselves to others. Each encounter with family members, friends, and the wider community is problematic and risky as it contains cultural presumptions and judgements confirming the self-blame and shame she may already feel. Being believed, which is integral to personal integrity and identity, and derivative of shame, self-worth, and blame, is negotiated subjectively, in relationships with others, and within contextually specific and often contradictory discourses and is inextricably linked with credibility.

In relation to sexual violence, then, cultural intelligibility is facilitated within the limits of the moral framework of victim-survivor duality. Albeit problematic, violence exerted against women who identify as victim-survivor is recognisable because they are named and defined within these categorisations. However, erased are experiences that lie outside the confines of victim-survivor identity, that are not recognised as ‘innocent’, and where definitions are rejected. 0003 Identity  (or abjection) and of ethical practice.

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