This book is based on award-winning research that analyzes transcripts of intrafamilial child sexual abuse trials.
Building on the contemporary focus of legal trials as hegemonic sites of storytelling from the perspectives of dominant interest groups, the argument is developed in three steps.
The first documents the development of a de facto relationship between law and psychiatry that simultaneously silences and blames victims of sexual violence, and advances a critique of law as narrative. The second presents a detailed, critical, feminist reading of six trials that are presented as textual case studies. These show the legal mechanisms through which victim/survivors accounts of abuse are transmuted into forms that facilitate the legal and theoretical acquittal of the alleged abuser and replicates, at symbolic and structural levels, those power relations inherent in the original abuse. The final step in the argument analyzes and synthesizes the structural and thematic patterns in the case studies to show how trials enact a narrative template that maintain a patriarchal status quo around intrafamilial child sexual abuse.
This is a stunning piece of work. It exposes the evils of the adversary legal system in allowing defence lawyers to defeat the truth by vicious cross-examination of child victims of sexual abuse. Taylor's rigorous research and magisterial analysis make a compelling case for change.
S. Caroline Taylor is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Ballarat, Australia, where she completed her Ph.D. on the socio-legal construction of intrafamilial child sexual abuse, which won a national award. She also established the Children of Phoenix Foundation to promote advocacy, educational opportunities, and research on behalf of victims/survivors of child sexual abuse. She has published internationally on wide-ranging issues associated with child sexual abuse, including the reform of law and therapeutic practices in this area, the language of sexual violence, and victim/survivor impact and healing.