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

By Diana E. H. Russell | Go to book overview

14
Incest Runaway: A Case Study

Everything that's happened to me since in my life has been a result somehow of that experience.--Jacqueline Bell, speaking about her stepfather's sexual abuse of her

Jacqueline Bell's story, like the three described in chapter 12, is another example of a life ravaged by sexual assault. She is one of two respondents in our survey who was sexually abused by both her stepfather and her biological father.

It is becoming increasingly well known that many girls and young women who run away from home are incest victims. The repeated experiences of sexual abuse to which Jacqueline was subjected fit what is coming to be recognized as the plight of many who become runaways. Her life illustrates some of the dynamics offered in chapter 11 to explain revictimization. But most of all it illustrates the tragic dilemma of underage girls whose healthy desire to leave an abusive home places them at great risk of what appears to be an endless series of other abusive experiences. The fact that they so often prefer to take their chances on the street rather than return home is a testament to the extremity of their suffering in the families from which they flee.

At the time of the interview, Jacqueline was a twenty-year-old woman who had never been married. She described her ethnicity as half white and half Native American.

Jacqueline was uncomfortable and evasive when asked what her current employment was, if any, and replied simply, "I don't do anything." She had had some college education but had not graduated. She said that she had worked less than half the time in the job market since she left school.

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