Judith Lewis Herman

Author of Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

Judith Lewis Herman

Judith Lewis Herman is an author, psychiatrist, researcher, and teacher whose work has tackled the effects of traumatic stress and incest.

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In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.

... in practice the standard for what constitutes rape is set not at the level of women's experience of violation but just above the level of coercion acceptable to men.

Over time as most people fail the survivor's exacting test of trustworthiness, she tends to withdraw from relationships. The isolation of the survivor thus persists even after she is free.

The guarantee of safety in a battering relationship can never be based upon a promise from the perpetrator, no matter how heartfelt. Rather, it must be based upon the self-protective capability of the victim. Until the victim has developed a detailed and realistic contingency plan and has demonstrated her ability to carry it out, she remains in danger of repeated abuse.

Combat and rape, the public and private forms of organized social violence, are primarily experiences of adolescent and early adult life. The United States Army enlists young men at seventeen; the average age of the Vietnam combat soldier was nineteen. In many other countries boys are conscripted for military service while barely in their teens. Similarly, the period of highest risk for rape is in late adolescence. Half of all victims are aged twenty or younger at the time they are raped; three-quarters are between the ages of thirteen and twenty-six. The period of greatest psychological vulnerability is also in reality the period of greatest traumatic exposure, for both young men and young women. Rape and combat might thus be considered complementary social rites of initiation into the coercive violence at the foundation of adult society. They are the paradigmatic forms of trauma for women and men.

Combat   Ptsd   Rape   Trauma

The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.

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