A World Without Martha

Institutionalization was routinely recommended for children with intellectual disabilities when my sister Martha was born in 1958. Very little has been written about the impacts on the family and especially the siblings of those who were institutionalized. My book, A World Without Martha: A Memoir of Sisters, Disability, and Difference, explores the historical and familial context and the consequences of my sister’s exile from the family, as well as the complexity of my own responses to the stigma associated with her disability. I revisit my loss of her and my fear of a similar banishment from the human race as I tried to define my own reality as a queer and genderqueer person. A World Without Martha explores love and accountability in the face of the tyranny of the normal.

“Victoria’s book courageously clears the air – once and for all. First, she told this story to herself – painfully challenging her own past actions and assumptions. And now she has dared to tell the world.”

MARILYN DOLMAGE, Disability Activist and Litigation Guardian for Marie Slark and Pat Seth, Huronia Class Action

“This is a raw, honest, and candid account of how institutional and ideological ableism – institutionalization and the separation of siblings as well as stigmatization, shame, and marginalization – impacts individuals, families, and their relationships in tragic, shattering, and unpredictable ways.”

PATRICIA DOUGLAS, Disability Studies, Faculty of Education, Brandon University