Court licensed abuse: Patriarchal lore and the legal response to intrafamilial sexual abuse of children
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science / Social Justice Research Centre
This book is based on award-winning research that analyzes transcripts of intrafamilial child sexual abuse trials. Building on the contemporary focus of legal trials as hegemonic sites of storytelling from the perspectives of dominant interest groups, the argument is developed in three steps. The first documents the development of a de facto relationship between law and psychiatry that simultaneously silences and blames victims of sexual violence, and advances a critique of law as narrative. The second presents a detailed, critical, feminist reading of six trials that are presented as textual case studies. These show the legal mechanisms through which victim/survivor’s accounts of abuse are transmuted into forms that facilitate the legal and theoretical acquittal of the alleged abuser and replicates – at symbolic and structural levels – those power relations inherent in the original abuse. The final step in the argument analyzes and synthesizes the structural and thematic patterns in the case studies to show how trials enact a narrative template that maintain a patriarchal status quo around intrafamilial child sexual abuse.