April 2012: Using Oral History with Trauma Survivors: Ethical, Practical and Personal Considerations

Using Oral History with Trauma Survivors (Survivors of Intimate and Family Violence): Ethical, Practical and Personal Considerations

April 18th, 2012
1:00 – 2:00 EST

Featured Practitioner: Alisa Del Tufo, Threshold Collaborative

Life histories have been used for many years to document the experiences of people who have survived trauma. These stories have been used for advocacy, qualitative research, healing as well as the profound and simple task of recording the voices of people who have survived significant personal challenges. With the advent of the women’s and other liberation movements, viewing the “personal as political” has sparked an even greater focus on this intimate methodology. What are some of the challenges of using such a personal framework with people whose healing may be “in process” and whose well-being may be deeply impacted by the interview itself: their experiences of, reaction to and relationship with traumatic experiences?

Over the past 20 years I have used oral history to record the stories and insights of women and men who have experienced intimate partner, family and sexual violence. I am hoping that we can discuss our experiences and insights regarding questions and concerns that are at the heart of this work. For me these are some central concerns:

  1. What are our reasons for embarking on such a journey? How do we come to best understand our own motivations? How do we express that to others? How do those being interviewed participate in defining the project?
  2. Why would someone want to participate in an oral history program of this kind? What is in it for them? How can we help understand these needs and help articulate them as part of the process?
  3. Since re-gaining efficacy and a sense of control are central to trauma survivors how can we structure our interviews so that people have a maximum sense of control of the process and the product?
  4. What might happen after the interview process is complete to address concerns regarding decisions about the product as well as looking at unintended consequences that might arise?

I hope you will join me and Groundswell for a conversation on these and other issues concerning this topic.

To participate on the call, sign-up here.