Saint Arnault, D. M.
The use of the clinical ethnographic narrative interview to understand and support help seeking after gender-based violence
Gender-based violence (GBV), characterized by the abduction or rape of women and girls to humiliate, intimidate, and traumatize them and their communities, is a profoundly disturbing tactic in international conflict. Long after armed conflict has ended, survivors continue to experience physical injuries, psychological trauma, and social and cultural stigma. Guilt, shame, and continued interpersonal violence can become a normalized part of daily life, significantly challenging the road to healing and recovery. Research about self-disclosure and narrative after GBV has shown that help seeking rates are shockingly low, with estimates ranging from 4-27%. From a feminist and a humanistic perspective, studying trauma history and to seek help is delicate work that must use interview processes that ensure the survivor can tell her story without revictimization, while also aiming to restore personal mastery, empowerment, and self-understanding. Based on theories about benefits and challenges of the narrative after GBV and trauma, we propose that the Clinical Ethnographic Narrative Interview (CENI) allows researchers and practitioners a safe container to examine the complex interplay between suffering, culture, and help seeking. Using this interview, the interviewer and the participant work as partners to define, compare, and contrast the socio-cultural barriers and facilitators of help seeking. This paper explains the narrative theory and the challenges and benefits of the narrative approach after trauma. Then we provide support for the use of the CENI for an understanding of the help seeking process and facilitating a health-promoting narrative interview for survivors. We then address implications for research, practice, and policy.Back