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Survivor Moms: Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse
Survivor Moms: Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse

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By Mickey Sperlich and Julia Seng

Sexual abuse and the reactions to it affect mothers’ whole lives—from thinking about having children all the way to being grandmothers.

Survivor Moms was written to help break down the isolation pregnant women and their caregivers often feel—as though they were the only ones having to cope with these challenges. In 1998, together with a team of survivors, therapists, and midwives, Mickey developed a survey project called “Survivor Moms Speak Out.” This survey asked basic questions about the ways in which survivors felt that their pregnancies, births, postpartum and mothering had been influenced by their history as survivors. A total of 207 surveys were returned, and from this number 81 women completed a narrative or contributed a poem. Excerpts from these narratives form the basis of Survivor Moms.

The book also includes some complete narratives along with resources and information from current research. You’ll be able to read the clinical perspectives of midwives and contributions from other health care professionals, and you will learn about the implications of women's experiences for their care and discover suggestions for working together during maternity care and beyond.

You need Survivor Moms if you are a survivor, a midwife, a mental health provider or if you know a survivor who is on this path. This book will teach you about abuse, mothering and the ongoing journey of healing and surviving. It will also help you discover what you can do to help.

Chapters cover:

  • Life before Motherhood
  • Pregnancy
  • Labor and Birth
  • Postpartum and Breastfeeding
  • Mothering and Attachment
  • Healing and Survivorship

Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 245

Table of Contents

 Chapter 1 ~ Life before Motherhood

    * Kay's Story
    * History: What Happened
    * History: Disclosure
    * The Range of Effects after Abuse
    * Effects: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
          o Intrusive Re-experiencing
          o Avoidance and Emotional Numbing
          o Arousal
    * Effects: Other Trauma-related Problems
          o Dissociation
          o Somatization
          o Interpersonal Problems
          o Substance Abuse and Disordered Eating
          o Poor Self-care: High Risk Sexual Behavior, Revictimization and Self-harm
    * Effects: Depression
    * Effects: Altered Memory
    * Outlook for Help and Recovery
    * Relationships
    * Sexual Intimacy
    * Pregnancy as an Impetus for Change
    * Breaking the Chain
    * Where in the Process

Chapter 2 ~ Pregnancy

    * Elaine's Story
    * Pregnancy as a Trigger
    * Needing Help and Getting It
    * Family Relations
    * Bodily Experience of Pregnancy
    * Relationships with Care Providers
    * Issues for Providers: Gaining Skill in the Therapeutic Relationship
    * Three Key Relationship Issues
          o Trust
          o Boundaries
          o Transference and Countertransference
    * Conclusion

Chapter 3 ~ Labor and Birth

    * Katherine's Story
    * Lynelle's Story
    * Overview
    * What Is Left Out
    * Reading this Chapter
    * Issues of Care, Control and Coping Strategies
    * Finding Your "Match"
    * Relationships with Caregivers
    * Childbirth Classes
    * Birth Plans
    * Labor and Birth as Triggers
    * Dealing with Pain
    * Doulas
    * Birth, Paradigms, Traumatic Stress and Empathy
    * The Art of Attending and Facilitating Birth
    * Honoring Complexity and the Efforts of Individuals
    * A Physician's Perspective
    * A Midwife's Perspective
    * A Survivor Mom's Perspective
    * The Healing Power of Birth

Chapter 4 ~ Postpartum and Breastfeeding

    * Claire's Story
    * Postpartum Depression, Anxiety and PTSD
    * Processing Birth
    * Postpartum Mood Disorder
    * Practical Help and Peer Support
    * Therapy
    * Medications
    * Parenting Classes
    * Sharing the Burden with Trustworthy People
    * Breastfeeding
    * Making the Decision Whether or Not to Breastfeed
    * Breastfeeding and Posttraumatic Stress
    * Getting Help
    * Breastfeeding and Bonding
    * Making Adaptations
    * Breastfeeding as Healing
    * Professional Advice for Lactation Consultants and Postpartum Caregivers
    * What You Can Do
    * Conclusion

Chapter 5 ~ Mothering and Attachment

    * Sadie's Story
    * Kim's Story
    * Will I Abuse My Child?
    * Attachment
    * Mental Health
    * Relationship with the Child's Body
    * Gender
    * Boundaries and Discipline
    * Keeping Kids Safe
    * Telling Children
    * My Child Was Abused
    * Survivors' Other Parenting Thoughts
    * Good Enough Moms
    * Breaking the Chain
    * Healing through Mothering

Chapter 6 ~ Healing and Survivorship

    * Deborah's Story
    * Relationships
    * Family
    * Friends
    * Intimate Partner Relationships
    * Therapy
    * Getting into Therapy
    * Troubles with Therapy
    * Being in Therapy
    * Group Work
    * Confronting the Abuser
    * Recovery as a Lifelong Process
    * Faith-based Healing
    * Abuse by Clergy
    * On Forgiveness
    * Alternative Healing Modalities
          o Massage Therapy
          o EMDR
          o Music Therapy
          o Art Therapy
    * About Being a Survivor: Terminology
    * Activism
    * Conclusion
    * Afterword
    * Resources
    * References


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