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“She may have charmed him”. Gender Violence and Victim-blaming of Incest Survivors in PolishAuto/biographical Narratives

Subject and Keywords:

gender violence   autobiography   incest trauma   victim blaming   taboo


Although in the United States of America personal narratives documenting gender violence have been discussed since the 1970s, in Poland public disclosure of this type ofviolence in published autobiographical narratives is still a taboo subject, despite the fact that this prohibition does not apply to the practice of such violence in diverse social groups due tomultiple, intersectional causes of gender asymmetry. Women authors of recentauto/biographical testimonies about domestic sexual violence are often stigmatized for breaking this social taboo although they show incest in the context of other forms of discrimination and transgenerational traumas. Auto/biographical narratives of Ewa Wanat, „Molestowana w domu” („Abused at home”), Halszka Opfer, „Kato-tata. Nie-pamiętnik” (Sado-daddy. Non- memoir) and Katarzyna Surmiak-Domańska, “Mokradełko” (Boggyland), highlight intersections between masculine domination and reproduction of patriarchy in Polish society, in which quite a lot of women are also actively involved. Narrators look for reasons behind aggression and sadism in the vicious circle of domestic violence and the post-war traumas. Nonetheless, their community often blames the victims for exposing the violence. Prioritizing of family’s integrity, separation between the private and the public sphere and economic dependence of victims and witnesses on the perpetrators often result inpost-traumatic sexualization of the victimized person, which limits to a large degree their ability to form satisfying relationships, pursue self-realization, and effects reproduction of the dysfunctional family model. The first published incest autobiographical narrative, which has been included in the syllabus of Silesian University, initiates an attempt to break down this taboo.


Institute of Sociology, University of Wrocław

Detailed Type:





Genderowe filtry. Różnorodność doświadczania i percepcji płci w przestrzeni publicznej i prywatnej. Pod red. Doroty Majki-Rostek, Ewy Banaszak, Pawła Czajkowskiego, Wrocław 2015



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Copyright by Elżbieta Klimek-Dominiak