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Girls on the Verge of Exploding?: Voices on Sexual Abuse, Agency and Sexuality at a Youth Detention Home
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Child Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present thesis investigates the dilemmas and difficulties the staff at a youth detention home encounter and struggle with when working with young women who are understood to be victims of sexual abuse. At the center of attention is talk about the problems of talking about sexual abuse and other difficult experiences. The overall aim in conducting the study was to open up an arena that has been neglected and little investigated - youth detention homes for girls and young women, by talking to staff and the young women at the detention homes, and talking about sexual abuse. Also in focus was the young women's own thinking about the body and sexuality.

The findings are presented in five articles. The first article examines what discursive devices are employed when using the focus group method when talking to the young women in forced care. The study shows in what ways the focus groups is a fruitful method for studying marginalized young women and their views and thoughts about being young women today. The second article addressed the issue of how the staff form narratives of sexual abuse. Stories of sexual abuse were "power stories" as well as "work identity stories" and were considered to have the power to heal as well as the power to harm. The third article examines the process leading up to the definition of sexual abuse. The study is concerned with the process in which the staff members define whether or not a young woman has been a victim of sexual abuse. A determining factor was whether or not the act involved a person who was defined as a victim. A core issue was an evaluation of the credibility of the alleged abused girl and the degree of consent. The fourth article addresses the issue of how the staff and the young women at the detention home talk about sexuality. The article compares the different views of the staff and the young women and concludes that the staff talk about the young women as asexual children and as victims of sexual abuse, and the young women talk about themselves as having sexual agency. Finally, the fifth article shows how the young women talk abut childbearing and motherhood.

The study shows that the issue of talking about sexual abuse and other difficult experiences is complex. The different views of how to talk about sexual abuse, whether to talk about sexual abuse, when to talk and to whom, as well as the question about whether there is a need to talk, makes the issue of talking about sexual abuse multi-layered and contradictory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2004. , 104 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 301
Keyword [en]
Sexual abuse, youth detention home, agency, sexuality, institutional care, narrative
Keyword [sv]
Socialt arbete, Sverige, behandling, sexuella övergrepp, sexualitet, flickor, unga kvinnor
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-4826ISBN: 91-85295-60-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-4826DiVA: diva2:20767
Public defence
2004-11-05, Elysion, Hus T, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Supervisors
Available from: 2004-11-15 Created: 2004-11-15 Last updated: 2014-09-03Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The Focus Group Method as an In-depth Method?: Young Women Talking About Sexuality
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Focus Group Method as an In-depth Method?: Young Women Talking About Sexuality
2005 (English)In: International Journal of Social Research Methodology, ISSN 1364-5579, Vol. 8, no 4, 331-344 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article discusses whether the focus group method can be employed with troubled groups and for the discussion of high-involvement topics. It analyses focus groups' discourse of high-involvement topics, such as 'the body', 'relationships', and 'sexuality', conducted with female adolescents aged 15-20 years at a detention home. Contrary to the traditional belief that the focus group method is designed for low-involvement topics and mainstream groups, our analyses of the discursive devices employed suggest that the method can indeed be used for high-involvement topics. We also argue that other methods would not have given us 'deeper' insights and that the focus group method can be seen as a less intrusive method to be used in this setting.

National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13447 (URN)10.1080/1364557042000119607 (DOI)
Available from: 2004-11-15 Created: 2004-11-15 Last updated: 2009-06-09
2. Work identity at stake: The power of sexual abuse stories in the world of compulsory youth care
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Work identity at stake: The power of sexual abuse stories in the world of compulsory youth care
2003 (English)In: Narrative Inquiry, ISSN 1387-6740, Vol. 13, no 1, 217-242 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article deals with issues of narrative power in the highly contested area of sexual abuse stories. The storytellers are all members of a group of resident assistants working at a Swedish detention home for young women aged 13–21. Being a victim of sexual abuse was seen as a fundamental component in the complex picture of self destructive behavior impairing the young women. Expressing their suffering and talking about these experiences were seen as important aspects of the positive psychological development that was the aim of mandating the young women to compulsory care. The analysis focuses on the performative, destabilized struggle of the staff to maintain their work identity at the detention home, as they talked about their encounters with young women victimized by sexual abuse. The object of examination is how the work identity of the resident assistants at the institution was enacted and lived through in a narrative form as accountable patterns of meaning, as they took an active part in the process of narrating. The stories were “power stories” as well as “work identity stories”, considered to have the power to heal as well as the power to harm, and the staff regarded themselves as responsible for the storytelling, at the same time as they were not in control of either the act of storytelling or its outcome.

Keyword
Sexual Abuse, Narrative, Young Women, Social Work Practice, Work Identity, Detention Home
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13448 (URN)10.1075/ni.13.1.08ove (DOI)
Available from: 2004-11-15 Created: 2004-11-15 Last updated: 2009-06-09
3. Applying Narrative Analysis to the Process of Confirming or Disregarding Cases of Suspected Sexual Abuse
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Applying Narrative Analysis to the Process of Confirming or Disregarding Cases of Suspected Sexual Abuse
2005 (English)In: Child & Family Work, ISSN 1356-7500, Vol. 10, no 1, 57-65 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyses discourse about sexual abuse at a detention home for young women. At the centre of attention is staff members' struggle with the process of confirming or disregarding cases of alleged sexual abuse. The determining factor for establishing an act as sexual abuse was whether or not the act involved a person who was defined as a victim. A core issue in the process was an evaluation of the credibility of the alleged abused girl and the degree of consent. The unintended result was that many of the girls' narratives were never confirmed. The article argues that there is no objective 'given' regarding the definition of sexual abuse. To be involved in the process of understanding and establishing an act as sexual abuse means being involved in a process of social definition. To be able to handle such involvement constitutes a fundamental professional issue in social work. Adopting a narrative approach to the process of confirming or disregarding cases of suspected sexual abuse shifts the focus from developing categories of social problems and work on the basis of them to developing ways of listening to young people and allowing their narratives to provide a point of departure.

Keyword
detention home, narrative, sexual abuse, young women
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13449 (URN)10.1111/j.1365-2206.2005.00352.x (DOI)
Available from: 2004-11-15 Created: 2004-11-15
4. Innocent Girls or Active Young Women?: Negotiating Sexual Agency at a Detention Home
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Innocent Girls or Active Young Women?: Negotiating Sexual Agency at a Detention Home
2003 (English)In: Feminism and Psychology, ISSN 0959-3535, E-ISSN 1461-7161, Vol. 13, no 3, 345-367 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyzes discourse about sexuality at a detentionhome for young women aged 13-21 years. Staffmembers, both male and female, talk about the young women asif they were still children, i.e. as asexualbeings, thereby denying them sexual agency. Theimage of young women as innocent children is, however, contestedby the young women themselves, who explicitlyclaim sexual agency. The article concludes thatby not using the situatedness of a young woman as their therapeuticalpoint of departure, the staff members cannotprovide her with the guidance and support that she needs. The article further suggests that feminist theoryshould focus on young women's own perceived senseof agency and that sexual agency can be understood and established in the context of Moi's (1999) model ofwomen as `de Beauvoirian' situated beings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London, UK: Sage Publications, 2003
Keyword
compulsory care, feminist theory, sexuality, situatedness, voice
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13450 (URN)10.1177/0959353503013003007 (DOI)000184284300007 ()
Available from: 2004-11-15 Created: 2004-11-15 Last updated: 2014-11-14Bibliographically approved
5. “You want to have done your living if you know what I mean”: Young Incarcerated Swedish women speak about motherhood
Open this publication in new window or tab >>“You want to have done your living if you know what I mean”: Young Incarcerated Swedish women speak about motherhood
2004 (English)In: Feminism & Psychology, ISSN 0959-3535, Vol. 14, no 2, 226-230 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13451 (URN)10.1177/0959353504042175 (DOI)
Available from: 2004-11-15 Created: 2004-11-15 Last updated: 2009-06-09

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