Women and Trauma
Wear, torture, violence, poverty, diseases, discrimination and domestic
abuse: these great human ills sicken the individual psyche. … The
pathogenic power of trauma is an emerging woman's issue at the level
of international policy.
—Kofi Annan (2004)
A true history of women and trauma would have to go back to the witch trials in the early days of this country, and undoubtedly to Biblical times. But suffice it to say that contemporary history is painful enough, and we will focus on that.
In chapter 1, I made reference to the universal issues of women and trauma. It was not, however until the Women's Movement of the 60s and 70s that women were encouraged to join together, and speak out about their traumatic experiences by creating consciousness-raising groups. These groups allowed many of the horrors of the reality of women's lives to surface.
Gradually, research was initiated about women's needs, allowing them to become recognized. In so doing, many of the secrets of their own sexual traumas were finally revealed and validated. Our colleague and friend, Dr. Lenore Walker, wrote poignantly about the Battered Woman Syndrome and shelters for women who were abused by their spouses were created.
Although many of these changes have been acknowledged since that time, today, at the start of 2005, women in North America and elsewhere