The language of trauma : an analysis of A stolen life by Jaycee Dugard and My story by Elizabeth Smart

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Aprill, Morgan
Mix, Deborah M.
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Thesis (B.?)
Honors College
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Language is a powerful tool that humans use in order to make sense of their surroundings, situations, and relationships. In moments of trauma, language processing is hindered by our body's coping mechanisms which turn off these areas of the brain. This makes it very hard for victims of severe abuse, like those of sexual abuse and childhood slavery, to be able to make sense of and share their stories. This paper looks at two memoirs written by women who have escaped childhood sexual slavery and have taken on the tasks of reclaiming, retelling, and making sense of their traumatic experiences through memoir. These books are A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard and My Story by Elizabeth Smart. By analyzing various aspects of their memoirs we can understand more about how trauma affects a victim and how powerful language is in and surrounding these incidents.