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I Never Wanted to Be a Stereotype

A Sociologist’s Narrative of Healing

Cindy Brooks Dollar

Trauma and its consequences are social phenomena. Coming from a working-class family and raised in a small, rural Southern area, this author's narrative offers a unique style of life history reporting whereby the author uses her academic standpoint to situate her life experiences in broader macro-social and cultural contexts. Weaving scholarship with personal narrative, the author highlights connections between self and social awareness, which is crucial, especially in a modern, Western context where the rhetoric of excessive individualism is prioritized. Discussing various issues, including objectification, violence, isolation, stigma, trauma, shame, integration, healing, peace, and love, she illustrates the application and significance of sociological knowledge to individual life. Many chapters include and conclude with excerpts from the author’s diary entries, which she has maintained for over 30 years. These provide a relatively unfiltered glimpse into her personal and social consciousness throughout various life stages, including adolescence, teens, young and middle adulthood. The book closes with a summary of existing research on trauma and recovery, which often promotes the use of body-based therapies. The author argues that these findings have important implications for sociology given the body’s symbolic socio-cultural status and how it is used to maintain existing inequalities and inequities, which (re)produce shared forms of trauma and differential access to recovery.

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Chapter 5. On the Way Out, But Still Very Much In



I was between 6 and 9 years old when I was first touched sexually. I don’t recall exactly when it first happened, but I have specific memories of the place I was at, which narrows the time frame down to these few years. I also have three specific memories of the actual assaults. Those are clear in my mind. The first and the second time, Hope, a girl who was about four years my senior, and I hid under a bed. Hope was Katie’s best friend, and her family and mine were long-time, close friends. Our families went to the same church, played at one another’s house, and participated in community activities at our local school and volunteer fire department together.

With Hope, the set up for assaults were the same each time. We would play hide and seek. I would go to hide, and she would hide in the same place – sometimes from the start and sometimes she would join me later after supposedly not finding another place to hide. At least one time, another child was seeking, but if I recall correctly, that wasn’t always the case. It didn’t occur to me that no one was “seeking” us. It also didn’t occur to me that the house we played in was a large farmhouse with many hiding spaces. Each time, I hid under a bed. Once in a room at the back corner of...

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