Virginia Woolf’s History of Sexual Victimization: A Case Study in Light of Current Research


Virginia Woolf’s history of sexual victimization is presented in a case study format, and reviewed in light of the present literature on the impact of child sexual abuse (CSA) to human development. The methodology to compose the case study involved reviewing the works of Woolf’s main biographers, the author’s memoirs, and the groundbreaking work of Louise DeSalvo, presenting data from Woolf’s diaries and letters, in which sexual abuse is disclosed. Woolf was sexually abused by her two older half-brothers. The abuse was extremely traumatic, and lasted several years. The various mental health symptoms that Woolf experienced are consistent with the literature of CSA. Woolf also presented some adequate coping skills by disclosing the CSA publicly, keeping records of her depressive episodes, and seeking help. Like many incest survivors, Woolf’s sexual abuse was minimized and questioned by biographers. In addition to Woolf’s enormous literary legacy, her knowledge of psychology was impressive. She was a feminist, as well as a visionary in exploring the effects of CSA before other incest survivors. Understanding her life influences is advantageous, not only to literary scholars but to most readers, and mainly clinicians and researchers are interested in the dynamics of sexual abuse.

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Williams, L. (2014). Virginia Woolf’s History of Sexual Victimization: A Case Study in Light of Current Research. Psychology, 5, 1151-1164. doi: 10.4236/psych.2014.510128.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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