Hazel Katherine Larkin, BA (Hons), MA, LLM – Dublin City University, studied Theatre before leaving for the UK when she was nineteen. At twenty, she moved to Singapore – with her first ex-husband, who was Singaporean. She spent the next 12 years in Asia before returning (reluctantly) to Ireland with her daughters. Within the year, Hazel was practicing as Ireland’s first doula and had returned to education. She now holds a BA (Hons) in Psychology and Sociology; an MA in Sexuality Studies; and an LLM in International Human Rights Law from Queen’s University in Belfast. Hazel has just submitted her doctoral dissertation to Dublin City University, where her research focused on transgenerational trauma with specific regard to Irish women and child sexual abuse.
In 2015, her memoir – Gullible Travels – was published. It explores the long-term effects of being raised by a narcissistic mother, a psychopathic father, and being sexually abused by her father, elder brothers, and others, as well as being a victim of sex trafficking. In addition, she runs workshops for parents who were sexually abused as children, daughters of narcissistic mothers, healthcare professionals, and others interested in trauma-informed practice. Hazel also provides doula services exclusively to women who have histories of child sexual abuse.
CONTENT WARNING: This article references child sexual abuse, self-loathing, and self-harm. Please exercise self-care if / when you choose to read it, and access mental health support if you feel you need it.
As a survivor of years of childhood sexual abuse, I did not always love my breasts. They were the unwilling receptors of unwanted male attention. I did not want them. I tried to cut them off. I was not successful, but it took a while before I was glad that I had been unsuccessful. Mothering my children, and moving from hating and harming my breasts, to loving, and appreciating, them was a journey that took more than two decades.
This piece – which is both textual, and a theatre performance (extracted from a longer piece ‘Body of Evidence’) – explores and examines my relationship with my breasts. As such, it is very much an Autoethnographic article. It details the damage (cosmetic and otherwise) that I inflicted on my breasts when I was a teenager; explores the theme of self-harm as a way of dealing with child sexual abuse; and reveals the healthy relationship I enjoy with them now, not least because using my breasts for their intended purpose brought me much psychological, and emotional, healing.
This is a piece of work that celebrates triumph over trauma by explicit – but not gratuitous – detailing of the journey from victim to victor. It’s also a piece of work that will resonate with a large number of women, and – it is my fervent desire – will offer hope to many of them.