A World Without Words: Reconceptualizing Aphasia Through the Agency of Rape Survivors in America
This study examines the overwhelming silence survivors of rape feel in the United States. Using a feminist activist anthropological framework, I examine the ways rape culture in the United States has caused rape survivors to feel they do not matter, which causes them to lose their ability to speak. The culture of silence that thrives within police departments across the U.S. is the first space of silence rape survivors encounter. As they move forward from their assaults, family members also create spaces of silence. The United States has developed a culture of aphasia around the topic of rape. This cultural aphasia affects survivors and causes them to lose the ability to speak in many aspects of their lives. However, the most common diagnosis for the trauma of rape is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and PTSD has no lens to examine or heal survivors with aphasia. Through the interviews with three survivors that experienced aphasia after rape, and my own experience with this silence, this thesis explores rape, silence and trauma through the lens of the anthropology of violence and trauma with the hope that theorists will develop further studies to develop a more holistic healing approach for rape survivors.