Voicing the Silence
Voicing the silence is an animation exploring the maternity care experiences of women who were sexually abused in childhood. The project was funded by King’s as part of the 2014 Collaborative innovation scheme for early career researchers and was a collaboration between the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery at King's and video production company J Motion.
I felt almost like an animal
I had everyone just looking at me
I felt embarrassed
I felt degraded
I felt dirty
I felt horrible! Horrible!
I just wanted to run away
This ‘I-poem’ was created from an interview transcript using the ‘voice-centred relational method’ of analysis and is one example of the powerful data provided by women with histories of childhood sexual abuse for a study exploring their maternity care experiences. The project developed an animated film of the ‘I-poem’, which is now being used within King's as an educational resource.
Please be aware that the animation reflects the words and experiences of a woman who survived childhood sexual abuse. Although the content is not explicitly related to abuse, some viewers may nevertheless find it disturbing. The information and ideas presented in the video can act as a trigger for people, whether or not they have experienced sexual abuse.
Childhood sexual abuse affects approximately 20% of women but is hidden in society and shrouded in silence. Few women disclose childhood sexual abuse to healthcare professionals but the potential for trauma in encounters with them is well documented. The study confirmed silence and demonstrated that many aspects of maternity care were reminiscent of abuse. However, childbirth can be healing for women who experienced sensitive care. There is no direct intervention to support these women: they are often unidentifiable. What they need depends on the individual woman, may change from day to day and is context-specific. Healthcare professionals may feel ill-equipped to deal effectively with disclosures of childhood sexual abuse and educational resources are lacking.
This project created an opportunity to ‘voice the silence’ through cultural media, address this deficit and influences the social impact of childhood sexual abuse.
Legacy and additional outputs
Following on from the above project, Dr Montgomery continued her collaboration with JMotion to develop a co-produced on-line resource to help prepare women who have experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA) for pregnancy, birth and parenthood. The resource shares real-life experiences through interactive content, film and animation, and has been created through the collaboration of women who have experienced CSA, midwives and researchers.This further work was funded by a Wellcome Trust People Award and is hosted on The Survivors Trust website.
This project is in collaboration between the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care at King's College London and J Motion. It was supported by the university's Culture team.
Dr Elsa Montgomery
Elsa Montgomery is a Senior Lecturer in Midwifery in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care. She has worked at King's College London since January 2014. Prior to that she was a lecturer in midwifery at the University of Southampton, where she completed her PhD on the maternity care experiences of women who were sexually abused in childhood.
J Motion is a video production company who provide a dynamic fusion of experienced broadcast-industry professionals with a background in journalism and programme-making. They are a talented team who employ state-of-the-art hardware and software and digital marketing experts to unlock their clients’ vision. The company’s founder Jonathan Staples and post-production manager James Grundy worked with Elsa on this project.