Mothers of Incest Survivors: Another Side of the Story

Janis Tyler Johnson, Author
Janis Tyler Johnson, Author Indiana University Press $10.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-253-20737-1
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
This slim treatise seems more like an outline than a finished project. A professor of sociology and social work at Immaculata College (Immaculata, Pa.), Johnson refutes many generally accepted theories about mothers whose daughters are sexually abused by fathers or stepfathers (i.e., that the mothers are somehow absent, or that they fail to protect their daughters from the abusive fathers). However, as Johnson herself acknowledges, the small size of her sample group--only six mothers--makes it difficult for her to draw any conclusions. Her interviews with these women do bring forward many poignant revelations; for example, one woman admits with embarrassment that she had never heard of incest before it occurred in her own family. Since she has not set out to draw any general conclusions from her research, Johnson is able to paint an individualized portrait of each woman and avoids twisting their stories to fit some theory. Her discussion of the mother-daughter relationship is particularly varied, showing that some of these relationships were extremely close, while some were less than loving, estranged or rivalrous. (Oct.)
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