AfricanCaribbeanWomen. Fostering, Race, Bodies

Black and marginalised individuals may be suspicious of
social service interventions influenced by discourses of
family dysfunction (Agozino, 1997; Barn, 2001; Bernard and
Gupta, 2008; Lees, 2002), further explored in first person
narratives of Black British women abused as children (Briscoe,
2009; Mason-John, 2005; Riley, 1985; Williams, 2011).
Knowing what I know now...research
15 women interviewed: 6 as experts who worked in support
services; 9 as victim-survivors, on help seeking for violence
and abuse for African and Caribbean heritage women. Visual
methods (photographs, maps and diagrams) were used to
help elicit past memories and some were created by the
women as part of the research process. Of the nine, seven
were abused as children: four were fostered (privately in one
case); two were fostered by family friends/relatives, and one
became the legal guardian of her siblings.
Participants who were fostered
Six of the seven women abused as children received
social service intervention. The table below shows
those who were placed into foster care.
Routes into care
Black African
Sexually abused and raped
by uncle and mother’s
Afro Caribbean
with Jewish
Jobseeker, former
Sexually abused by family
accounts professional friend.
Amateur actress,
Black Caribbean
Health care
Sexually abused and beaten
by foster family, raped by a
group of young men while
living in a hostel.
Malnourished and beaten
by her mother.
Room body
Generations of female relatives
sexually abused or exploited in
contexts of migration.
‘Saved’ by social service
intervention as children, ‘betrayed’
as parents.
Viewed as betraying their families
by not ‘keeping business’ (Wilson,
1993) which severed relationships
with siblings and close relatives.
As teenagers concealed their
bodies, were sexually exploited,
and did not ‘use’ sexuality enough.
Described feeling ‘like a minority’,
‘like a pathology’ in public spaces
and ‘judged’ by social workers,
and counsellors.
‘When you’re young you tend to see things inside your house, what goes on in here
stays in here ... it’s quite a Black thing to think well they’re your parents, you should
live with them, you should be obedient.’ Norma
‘Social services obviously [giggles] did their job They were interested in how the other
children were being raised and the whole dilapidation of the conditions.’ Rebecca
Felt Intensities
•Continuum of
•Violence and abuse
•Everyday racism
•Being silenced, not
Exhausting liminal rumination
•Strong Black woman
•Single mother
•Women are whores
•Audacious Speech
•Less than
•Not Black enough
‘The hostel where I was staying, one of the young ladies there, got beaten up
Farah’s Bodyline
Room Body
because she said that somebody was looking for [me] … I was too scared to tell the
police … I feel totally stupid up to this day, for not doing anything.’ Jacinta
Feeling ‘raced’ (Ahmed, 2000; 2004; 2007; Fanon,
1986) intersected with experiences of racism and
child sexual abuse. Some felt that abuse was
already known and could be read from their
bodies (Coy, 2008; 2009). Family or cultural
discourses about being strong (BeaubeoufLafontant, 2007; 2008) suggested they conceal
emotional distress, through processes of
‘toughening up’. A ‘continuum of oppression’ is
experienced long after abuse and leaving care.
Women carried these past legacies, while they
manage everyday challenges as embodied
‘I’m learning to love the
outside of my body … the
inside’s got all its parts
intact … just like here
[points to the photo] … I
need to decorate … over
the old parts … all the
memories from the
previous occupier are there
… the nicotine on the walls,
which is a lot [laughs] … I
need to make it into my
own.’ Rebecca
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Ava Kanyeredzi, PhD Candidate, CWASU, London Metropolitan University ( [email protected])

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