Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Kathy K. Hickok


This paper names the problem--rape--and attempts to determine a solution. Most of the current social theory on rape emphasizes what the woman can do to prevent an impending attack, that she must protect herself, never leaving herself vulnerable. And theory focuses on treatment, helping the victim heal after the attack. But the focus should shift onto prevention. But not via the victim. The only lasting plan for prevention comes with a complete social restructuring. Raising our children with different values. Educating them in a more humanist fashion. Connecting them with others in a way that doesn't emphasize competition with dominance as the ultimate goal.

History shows that ancient law treated the crime of rape as destruction to women as property. So much of law throughout time has focused on the legal definition of rape, the rhetoric behind the act. The emphasis has just shifted from the damage to women as `property,' to the degree of damage--in terms of its physical display, via bruising and lacerations, on the body as object. Neither addresses the psychological damage, the unseen trauma that results from rape.

Most psychotherapists subscribe talk therapy and the recovery industry recommends active involvement with fine arts. Studies show that both can be effective. But little scholarship exists on the power of using the victim's voice--through her art and writing--to actually change the hegemonic structure and reform and re-socialize our youth.

Rape affects everyone. When a victim remains silent, she suffers alone. But when she shares her story--through her writing or music or painting--everyone benefits. Though her pain may never disappear, and her recovery may never be complete, she can heal. And she can help others heal, as well. And her story, her art, her voice may be able to prevent rape from happening to someone else. This community mentality empowers survivors. When so many voices combine, it becomes possible to erase the sound of silence that reverberates from the trauma of rape.

Primary texts include: Lucky by Alice Sebold, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Memory Slips by Linda Katherine Cutting. Other sources include: Susan Brownmiller, Linda Alcoff and Laura Gray, Sandra Bloom, M.J. Clark, Wendy J. Glenn, Pamela Haag, Janice Haaken, Judith Lewis Herman, Marianne Hirsch and Valerie Smith, Carine M. Mardorossian, Janet Marstine, Nancy A. Naples, James Pennebaker, Sara Shandler, Jane Orleman.

Key words: Rape, literature, trauma, recovery, healing, therapy, art therapy, prevention, rape law, rape theory, journal writing, poetry, painting, music, recovery industry, psychotherapy, Freud, incest, statistics, social change, humanist education, silence, voice, victim, survivor.


Copyright Owner

Jennifer Jean Pruiett-selby



Date Available


File Format


File Size

132 pages