Feeling the Fleshed Body published
In 1971, on two separate occasions, Brenda Downing was raped. She was in her final year of primary school. In the immediate aftermath, the shame she harboured, coupled with a failed disclosure the same year, meant she did not risk talking of her experience again until almost thirty years later and did not begin to address the trauma, held frozen in her body, for a further ten years.
In this book, she not only explores her long-term somatic response to the trauma of rape, but also examines the bodily responses of nine other women raped in childhood. Using a combination of somatic inquiry, writing and performance-making, her pioneering reflexive and embodied methodology reveals the raped body as agentic and subversive, with the capacity to express trauma through symptoms not always readily recognized or understood. Her findings have significant implications for the care and treatment of rape victims, for further research into the multiple impacts of sexual trauma, and for materialist knowledge-making practices.
Available for purchase here.
Brenda Downing is a feminist academic. She completed her PhD at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia and is currently teaching in the School of Social Science and International Studies at Curtin University, Western Australia. Her research focuses on the long-term somatic impact of gendered sexual violence, rape trauma and cellular memory, and arts-based forms of reflexive and embodied inquiry including writing and performative autoethnography.