Last week the new edited collection #MeToo: Counsellors and Psychotherapists Speak about Sexual Violence and Abuse was published. It includes my chapter, 'Sexual Abuse and Surviving with(in) Psychology', which is a personal reflection on how growing up as a queer* and genderfluid** survivor in Northern Ireland influenced my career in psychology. It talks about the intersections between homophobia, transphobia, and sexual abuse - and has a conversation section where I talk about sexual abuse and intersectionality with my life-long friend, Fionnuala Dempsey.
The in-person book launch was transformed into a live online Twitter celebration due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidance - which meant that I could attend despite being in a different country from most of the contributing authors.
About the chapter
'Behind the scenes'
Want to hear more about my new chapter?
Find out why I wanted to talk about my personal experiences in my academic work and how I survived psychology here.
1: Retribution - Seb Randall, with Celia Urbach
3: Lighthouses, rocky shores and safe harbours - Concetta Perôt with Clarinda Cuppage
4: How we talk to girls about ‘sex’ - Taylor Broughton with Sarah J Wilson
5: Sexual abuse and surviving with(in) psychology - Jemma Tosh with Fionnuala Dempsey
6: Therapists’ lived experience in counselling and psychotherapy training - Liz Smith & SaraTeresa Mollis
7: Survivors of sexual violence training as psychotherapists in the UK - Deborah A Lee with Peggy, Sam and Phoenix.
8: #MeToo on the internet - Tara Shennan with Haley Clifford
9: Reconnection through dance movement psychotherapy - Amanda Light with Tina Johnson.
10: Shattering the sounds of silence - Reena Shah with Clarinda Cuppage
11: While I was sleeping - Andrew Pari with Katy Woodger
12: ‘#WeToo’: groupwork as an act of solidarity and resistance - Leah Salter with Emily Jacob
13: Pushing, pulling and parts coming together - Joy Farrimond with Emma Palmer
14: Dirty secrets, ecocide and the specialness of the world all around - Emma Palmer with Charleen Agostini
Concluding poem - #MeToo, by Clare Shaw
‘This innovative and ground-breaking book is an exceptional and much-needed contribution to understanding sexual violence and sexual abuse. It provides invaluable insight to the experience of those who work with and support survivors of sexual violence who are also survivors themselves. It allows us to bear witness to how survivor practitioners engage in their work with survivors and demonstrates how powerful and transformative it is to give voice to and share lived experiences. It is an indispensable addition to our understanding of sexual violence and deserves a place on every practitioner’s bookshelf.’
Christiane Sanderson, Senior lecturer in psychology, University of Roehampton, and consultant in sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse
‘The capacity to work with experiences of sexual violence and abuse is an essential competence for all counsellors and psychotherapists. #MeToo presents a diverse, accessible, and deeply moving collection of chapters on this issue, from both personal and professional perspectives. As such, it is a vital resource for our field.’
Mick Cooper, Professor of Counselling Psychology, University of Roehampton
‘This book is truly transformational. It not only documents the #MeToo movement by bringing together therapists in dialogues about the impacts of their personal experiences of sexual abuse in a powerful and moving way. It also deconstructs and disrupts the ways we talk about these experiences and reconstructs the phenomenon entirely. Throughout it challenges notions of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and shows us how to hold ambivalence, as de Beauvoir taught us in her ‘ethics of ambiguity’. Either/or becomes both/and, such as in the desire to be seen and to be hidden, to feel agency and to experience dependence, to feel special and to be shame-ridden, and wanting to hurt and feeling empathy for abusers. ‘No, we will not be silenced!’ shout the authors, united. It is a convincing plea for #WeToo and the power of standing together in solidarity against shame and victim-blaming. This book is a powerful testament of how abuse is a relational experience – a counter-story to the individualisation and pathologisation so rife in our society.’
Dr Gillian Proctor, lecturer, University of Leeds
‘If you don’t find yourself reading this book with your whole mind-body self, then you are missing a unique opportunity for being moved, kinaesthetically touched by the personal stories and learning what it means to work therapeutically towards a soul-soma integration. The different theoretical perspectives, writing styles and conversation structures made me read the book in a 3-D way: as a (socio-political) witness, but then also hearing the different voices that were previously silenced and also feeling in my own body and movement the emergence of deeply hidden memories. Spirituality, politics and intersectionality are at the heart of this utterly inspiring book that sensitively stimulates reflections, inner processes and questioning of conventional therapy practices. It is essential reading for therapists and non-therapists alike.’
Sissy Lykou, UKCP registered psychotherapist
‘Intensely powerful - a book about pain and remembering, but also about testimony and hope.’
Nicole Westmarland, Professor of Criminology, Durham University
* I use the terms queer and bisexual to describe my sexuality. I define bisexual as having an attraction to people with the same gender as me, as well as those with a different gender from me. It is transgender, genderfluid, nonbinary and intersex inclusive. This term best represents my sexuality as it positions my gender as central to the definition (rather than a term like pansexual), which is important to me and my relationships
** I use the terms genderfluid and nonbinary to describe my gender. I define genderfluid as having more than one gender and I use nonbinary to refer to genders that encompass more possibilities than a binary of male/female allows. This can include multiple genders (ie. demiwoman) as well as no genders (ie. agender).