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
You may be interested to know about a couple of DVDs we have made – one is specifically for adults with learning disabilities, the other is for young people but is very simple and direct and has been well received by adults with learning disabilities as well when considering their own childhood experiences.
1 – BELIEVE ME – http://www.leedsanimation.org.uk/films/believe.html – a short animated film for young people and children, about children’s experiences of sexual abuse
2 – GETTING TOGETHER – for people with learning disabilities, about making friends and starting relationships – includes some material about possible dangers. See below and watch a clip here: http://www.leedsanimation.org.uk/films/get_together.html.
Ms Terry Wragg
Leeds Animation Workshop
45 Bayswater Row
Leeds LS8 5LF
GETTING TOGETHER is a new animated DVD pack about friendships and relationships, for people with learning disabilities.
Watch a clip here: http://www.leedsanimation.org.uk/films/get_together.html
This is an animated short DVD pack, to support people with a learning disability and to raise awareness about problems they may face when making friends or starting a relationship. The DVD shows how people with learning disabilities can enjoy friendships and sexual relationships without putting themselves at risk. It also shows how care workers and family members can provide appropriate support.
The 13-minute DVD shows characters in different living situations who all have learning disabilities. Their stories can be seen singly or together, with/without subtitles or BSL signing:
. Erroll helps with the cricket club, meets people and makes friends.
. Gita, a wheelchair user with non-verbal communication, finds a friend at pottery class. They quarrel and make up again.
. Harry finds ways to meet other gay people, with support from care workers who help him look for a boyfriend without taking risks.
. Candice goes on a date and learns to say no to a pushy boyfriend.
. Jacey meets a man in a club, and nearly gets into trouble.
. Brett starts a relationship with Marie, and takes things one step at a time: they sort out contraception, get over arguments, and eventually decide to move in together.
All the voices on the soundtrack are those of actors with learning disabilities.
The resource pack includes an accessible booklet.
The film was produced by Leeds Animation Workshop, a not-for-profit co-operative. Consultants included Mencap, CHANGE and other organisations, relationship experts, and people with learning disabilities.
The project was funded by the Big Lottery Fund, and supported by Leeds City Council.
Both DVDs are available on a non-profit basis directly from Leeds Animation Workshop, online or by phone: 0113 248 4997 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.leedsanimation.org.uk
Thanks for your response to the post and the link to the great resources. Hopefully readers of the blog will go and take a look at the site,