MLA: How does Sexual Assault Trauma Impact Classrooms?

How does Sexual Assault Trauma Impact Classrooms?

For survivors of sexual assault, language can become a barrier to communication. A sexual assault survivor’s language may change; this might be seen through rejection or isolation of the word rape, due to its socially-constructed meanings, or utilization of silence to a culturally uncharacteristic degree. This can lead to misunderstandings in the classroom.

woman-writing-illusIn a composition classroom, the parameters of an assignment might result in an essay which appears to not match the assignment. An example of this is when a woman described her fear about hearing someone coming up the stairs to her apartment and her overwhelming relief when it turns out to be her boyfriend in a paper that was supposed to deal with rape. The instructor did not recognize that the author was a survivor (Amron).

reading-asian-girl-blue-ovalIn a literature classroom, the reading may involve sexual assault and, even though the survivor reads the work, her (or his) personal experience and subsequently-adapted coping mechanisms cause her to disassociate the sexual from the violent in their reading, thus leaving her with an incomplete understanding of the text. An example of this is a woman who read a play for sophomore literature, was very active in the ensuing discussion, but was completely flummoxed when the professor asked her a question about the rape in the play. She had not read a rape.

The sexual assault survivors’ very different life experiences lead to language changes which affect their writing in two-year college classrooms.

This is one of the abstracts that was accepted to MLA and which I will be giving the paper on in December.

One thought on “MLA: How does Sexual Assault Trauma Impact Classrooms?”

  1. Looking for the article you published on this topic in Scribe Vol. 1 no. 1 of Winter 2010. I cannot locate it and would love to read more. Any chance you can send a link?

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