Using narrative declarations with women who are taking a stand against injustice — Kathryn Thompson


For women who have been subjected to rape or intimate-partner violence, experiences with police and criminal justice systems can bring additional harms and trauma. One of the ways this can happen is through processes of professional verification of women’s accounts of violence. Counsellors and others can be called on to elicit women’s stories and to provide validation of their victimhood. In addition to validation, such professional accounts can reinforce single-storied understandings and make it difficult for women to move away from identities shaped as a result of harm. This paper shows how narrative declarations can be used as an adjunct to such ‘modern documents’. Narrative declarations can call attention to the ways in which women have taken a stand against violence and harm, and remind them of hopes and values that may have been subjugated by abuse. These declarations can take a range of forms, and may be brief enough to be recorded on note cards that can accompany the woman in the courtroom.