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The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women [Paperback]

Diana E. H. Russell
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 29, 1987 9780465075966 978-0465075966 Revised
The Secret Trauma remains the definitive argument for the overwhelming prevalence of incestuous abuse. Based on findings about San Francisco, the book makes a persuasive case for an epidemic of abuse on a national scale. In her nuanced and sophisticated analysis, Russell carefully explores the complex variables of incestuous abuse: the changing incidence of abuse over time, the severity of th abuse, the victim’s age, factors of class, race, and ethnicity, and long term effects on victims.In a new introduction to the revised edition, Russell takes on the most important issue to arise in the field since the book was originally published in 1986: the serious backlash that followed the outpouring of reports by victims/survivors, and the controversy over false accusations and “false memories.”

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

An in-depth investigation into the effects of incest was undertaken by Russell to determine the prevalence of sexual assault in America. The Secret Trauma is the result of that study. Some 930 San Franciscans of various races, religions, and ethnic and economic backgrounds were interviewed. The study focused on causative factors; characteristics, such as frequency, duration, severity of abuse, and age of victim and abuser; the socioeconomic history of victims and their families; coping strategies; long-term effects of abuse; the probability of revictimization; incest and relationship of abuser to abused; and the supportive/nonsupportive role of family members. The study's importance is due to its methodological techniques, findings, and review of earlier research. Highly recommended. Frada L. Mozenter, Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte Lib.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Diana E.H. Russell, Ph.D., author of Behind Closed Doors in White South Africe and Rape in Marriage, is professor of sociology at Mills College, Oakland, California.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Revised edition (October 29, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780465075966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465075966
  • ASIN: 0465075967
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Diana E.H. Russell (Born November 6, 1938, South Africa) is a radical feminist writer and activist. For the past 40 years she has been engaged in research on sexual violence against women and girls. She has written numerous books and articles on rape (including marital rape), femicide, incest, misogynist murders of women, and pornography. For her book on incest, The Secret Trauma, she was co-recipient of the 1986 C. Wright Mills Award.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic! April 25, 2001
Since first published in 1986, this work has been the most representative social survey on experience of sexual violence. It is a classic!
Russell describes her monumental study in five parts: study, problem, victims, perpetrators, and families, which involves all the relevant aspects. And each section is rich with case examples and very readable. What fascinates me most is the way she approaches these individuals. This should be a reference for all of those working with violence survivors.
Though method of analysis seems a bit out-dated after 15 years, but that is what you expect in classics. Likewise introduction for 1999 edition is not at all concise. You don't need all the details of what happened since the first edition. Because the classic remains the same regardless of time.
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15 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What is the sound of an axe grinding? May 19, 2003
What is the sound of an axe grinding? Open this book to any random page and you'll hear it. It's there in the ridiculously predictable way Russell bends over backwards to interpret the data in the way most favorable to her thesis. (Which is, in a nutshell: it's not just that men commit basically all sexual abuse, it's the *fundamental* nature of their sexuality that leads them to do it. In other words: men are beasts. Got that?) It's there in her perpetually slanting adjectives. And it's *so* there in my favorite chapter heading: "Female Incest Perpetrators: Why Are There So Few Of Them?" Gee, maybe because Russell deliberately excluded all men from her survey? Or because, even when one of her female subjects describes incestuously abusing her younger brother, she blandly admits, "[The brother's experience] wouldn't have been counted in our survey because our methodology was only designed to collect experiences where the woman was the victim - not the victimizer." (Read that sentence again and tell me this is a work of science.) Don't feel too bad for that kid though. Russell is quick to assure us that people abused by women are less traumatized by the experience. And besides: those female perpetrators were usually victimized by a *man* in the first place!
And guess what? All four blurbs on the back cover of the book are from other female academics. Anyone want to bet on what model axe *they* use?
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