Infant feeding experiences of women survivors of childhood sexual abuse

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From the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health

Violence against girls is a broad social problem. While there is a great deal of literature available on Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA), most of it is related to clinical research or service provision; there is very little focus on breasts and breastfeeding in relation to the abuse experiences of women survivors of CSA.

Anthropologist Penny Van Esterik of York University and Karen Wood, Director of Tamara’s House, Services for Sexual Abuse Survivors in Saskatoon, teamed together recently to carry out participatory action research on the impact of CSA on women survivors and their breastfeeding experiences and infant feeding decisions.  The goal of the study was to find out how breastfeeding and support for breastfeeding for women survivors of CSA could flourish.  Drawing upon the literature on CSA and using key informant interviews, Van Esterik and Wood found that breastfeeding, with proper support, could offer important opportunities for healing for survivors of CSA – opportunities that are currently being missed.   Read the Information Sheet.