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Surviving sexual abuse

Midwives magazine: April/May 2009

Survivor moms: women’s stories of birthing, mothering and healing after sexual abuse by Mickey Sperlich and Julia Seng Motherbaby Press

ISBN: 9781890446413

Reviewed by Kathryn Gutteridge

survivor moms
This is an important book for all midwives to read. It is intended for mothers and health professionals providing maternity care as an insight into the taboo subject of sexual abuse in childhood and adult life. There is little written on the subject matter in maternity care and what is printed is often of transatlantic or Australasian origin. The book contains survivor accounts of their birth and mothering experiences, inviting the reader to understand the psychological implications of sexual abuse during this vulnerable transition. Where care vignettes are given, there are sensitive explanations of how this applies to sexual abuse, memories during birth and mothering. Some survivors have submitted poetry and prose to describe their pain and suffering, this only adds to the power of the text.

The layout of the book is easy to read, chapters are divided into the journey of pregnancy, childbirth and mothering with helpful hints on how to avoid retraumatisation of the woman. The language occasionally conflicts with the British model of midwifery; however, this does not dilute the meaning of the work.

There are many useful references within the text and links to valuable websites. It is probably not a book to read in one go, but to digest in parts. It will make a huge difference to midwives who are faced with helping a survivor who has disclosed to them. I thoroughly recommend this book and suggest all libraries find a place for it.

Have you read this book? What did you think?