This paper introduces readers to the sociopolitical context within Colombia and provides examples of the use of narrative therapy and collective narrative practice with survivors of torture. In particular, this paper focuses on responding to women who have been subjected to sexual violence in the context of organised political violence. Detailed accounts of work with a mother and her two daughters, and a group of women survivors, are offered.
This article presents an example of collective narrative practice with Chinese women who have experienced rape. In a cultural context where rape is an immense taboo and a source of shame, this group project linked individual women to the collective. The use of the Tree of Life methodology, re-authoring conversations, outsider witnesses, therapeutic letters and documents, and definitional ceremony, has richly described the knowledges and skills of these women which have helped them, and which could contribute to the lives of other women. In addition to acknowledging personal agency, the cultural dimension and social construction of sexual violence was exposed in local language and practice, and the power of dominant discourses was revealed and challenged.
In 1984, Biff Ward wrote ‘Father Daughter Rape’ (The Women’s Press) one of the first books to address the issue of childhood sexual abuse. In this short reflection she looks back at the writing of this book and the question of forgiveness.
In this paper, I argue that the capacity to talk about sex and sexuality is vital to effective narrative practice, though these issues are little discussed among narrative practitioners. Building our skills in enabling such conversations can better equip us to move in the direction of reducing violence, discrimination and coercion; creating safety and improving wellbeing. I argue that being capable of conversations about sexual practices is critical to important goals, such as ending sexual violence and eliminating discrimination against queer people. The capacity to speak about sexuality is also important in supporting people who wish to move beyond traumatic or joyless experiences related to sex and into living thriving and pleasurable lives. This paper invites readers to reflect on their own confidence and ability in enabling conversations about sex and sexuality. Finally, it provides concrete suggestions for people who would like to increase their capacity for relaxed conversations about sex and sexuality.
A reflection on Mary heath’s paper ‘enabling conversations about sex and sexuality by Barbara Baumgartner.