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Date of Award
Thesis-ISU Access Only
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of English
We all need stories to survive. Stories of the past and present, stories of ourselves and others. Stories shape all we know and all we are; narrative renders human existence meaningful. In essence, stories form our identities. Trauma interrupts these stories. Perhaps that is why it is so jarring for people to experience it. Furthermore, research has shown that writing can be a tool that fosters a victim’s recovery from trauma, for writing allows a victim to take control of the narration of a senseless and horrifying experience. For this and other reasons, the discourse surrounding the trauma of sexual assault is multifaceted and layered. There exists a master sexual assault narrative in Western culture –a set of conditions that is repeated over and over again to form the dominant cultural belief about the reality of sexual assault and the conditions that surround it. This master narrative, however, does not represent reality in its totality, but a small sliver of the endless possibilities. Despite this, it is powerful; the master narrative is so embedded in our minds that it silences victims by making them believe that their sexual assault experiences outside the limits of the master narrative are invalid. In this thesis, I dismantle the cultural master narrative of sexual assault that silences survivors and examine the connections between it, life writing, and the ability for a survivor to begin to heal from a traumatic experience with the help of storytelling.
Cachey, Elizabeth, "“It’s Not Rape-y Enough”: How The Master Sexual Assault Narrative Restricts The Stories Writers Can Tell" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 800.