Sexual Abuse, Counselling and Compensation: Discourses in New Zealand Newspapers
This article offers a critical discursive analysis of contemporary media accounts of controversial New Zealand legislation designed to provide counselling and monetary compensation to sexual abuse victims/survivors. Analysis of newspaper texts from 2002 to 2005 located a heated debate, with opposition to and defense of the legislation. Opposition was articulated through strong emotional talk and perpetuation of a `big scam' discourse that positions sexual abuse survivors as potentially untrustworthy, fraudulent claimants. Counsellors/therapists are positioned as part of a predatory, money-hungry industry, which uses questionable practices to create false memories or reports of sexual abuse. The persuasive function served by this emotionally laden big scam discourse has a higher profile than arguments defending the legislation. The dominance of the big scam discourse arguably contributes to the suffering of sexual abuse survivors, more often women and children, by maintaining attention on authenticity and entitlement. Humanitarian attempts to address the deleterious effects of sexual abuse are undermined.
Feminism & Psychology
Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology