Many women who have experienced sexual violence do not label their experiences as “rape,” says Dusty Johnstone, a learning specialist in women’s and gender studies.
She discusses her dissertation research into the subject in the September issue of the Canadian fashion magazine, Flare.
According to Dr. Johnstone, women who do not label an experience as rape are known in the literature as “unacknowledged rape victims.” Her study involved interviews with women who fall into this classification.
“Specifically, I looked at how they negotiated meaning and processed the experience in the absence of labels,” she says. “This really exposed the ambivalence that many women feel when it comes to labeling and the barriers that they need to overcome in order to be able to do so.”
The magazine will help Johnstone’s work reach an audience otherwise unlikely to hear of it, despite findings “germane to the lived experiences of so many women,” she says.
“Flare is a very accessible publication with an audience far wider than the one that I could reach in academia. Having my work discussed in the popular press means that it is reaching the women who most need to know about it.”