Previous studies have suggested that the use of personal narratives can be useful for victims of sexual abuse in the process of enabling them to overcome their trauma.
The authors of this small study in the Netherlands start with the view that it is possible for counsellors to help victims with learning disabilities to co-construct a personal narrative by taking an active part in conversations with counsellors.
The researchers used discourse and conversational analysis to look at four conversations between a counsellor and a woman with autism and mild learning disability.
They found that from these conversations, the woman was able to express inner emotions and understanding about sexual issues and other sensitive topics. It was also possible for her to express disagreement and lack of understanding.
They conclude that it may be possible, despite communication issues, for adults with a learning disability who have been the victims of sexual abuse to actively participate in conversations with counsellors to construct personal narratives..
They stress however that the counsellors’ duty in such situations is to prevent distressing effects within the interview.
Communicative empowerment of people with intellectual disability, van Nijnatten C & Heestermans M in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability37, 2 , 100-111