Victim–Survivor–Warrior–Healer: An autoethnographic account of a male childhood sexual violence survivor’s activist journey




autoethnography, sexual violence, survivor, child abuse


It has been argued that stories inform our perceptions of reality and social change is driven by stories (Sarbin, 1986; Bochner, 2012; Frank, 2011/2013). Sexual violence is a complex cultural challenge for societies (Rape Crisis, 2020). Individual survivor identity is formed in that complexity and personal posttraumatic growth (PTG) can be forged in such challenges (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). Activism is one way the survivor can help forge social change both for themselves and the ‘community of interest’ they belong to (Raskovic, 2020; Herman, 1992). This article uses autoethnography to explore one male survivor’s story of childhood sexual violence and his 22-year journey of activism. It adopts a novel approach weaving metaphors taken from episodes of the long-running British television series Doctor Who. It attempts to link social action to PTG in its reflections on meaning and redemption beyond shame via activism and lived experience witnessing (Bruner, 2002). The power of lived experience can powerfully bring the ‘unspeakable’ to society’s conscious awareness (Herman, 1992; Balfour, 2013). By sharing the raw reality of victim blaming when challenging the status quo. The reality of political and professional agents’ resistance to change is evidenced. It uses psychological and other theories, aiming to weave them through the story and illuminate one activist’s journey. Its limitation is its just one story, However, within that lies an authentic strength. It does not claim to be objective. Instead, it knits both the subjective and objective together to allow you to experience something as old as humans, a real story told in a new form (Gottschall, 2012).

Author Biography

Robert Balfour, CEO of a sexual violence service for males

Robert Balfour is the CEO of a sexual violence service for males as well as a community psychologist and honorary supervisor at the University of Liverpool’s Clinical Psychology Department.


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How to Cite

Balfour, R. (2022). Victim–Survivor–Warrior–Healer: An autoethnographic account of a male childhood sexual violence survivor’s activist journey. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 23(2), 103-125.