Interpreting for Victims of Violence: Its Impact on Victims and Interpreters

Interpreting for Victims of Violence: Its Impact on Victims and Interpreters

Lois M. Feuerle
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 33
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9308-9.ch010
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Victims of violence and interpreters share one trait: they are susceptible to trauma-related sequelae. Direct victims may develop PTSD while interpreters may develop vicarious trauma. This chapter sets out the legal basis for language access in healthcare, noting the important quality dimension added by the ACA. It then reviews the statistics for various forms of violence and presents some of its enormous societal costs. It also highlights the similarity of some of the symptoms observed in persons suffering from vicarious trauma, PTSD and burnout, but notes the difference in the genesis of these three conditions. This is followed by an introduction to trauma-informed approaches in delivering victim services. Finally, it lays the basis for identifying VT symptoms, mentions two online instruments that might be useful in assessing the likelihood of vicarious trauma, and reviews types of self-care techniques for creating a personal self-care plan.
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Interpreting for victims of violence is not easy. Human beings at their best are by nature empathetic and can absorb the trauma of those they interpret for. Some cases are more difficult than others, but all take their toll. This chapter will provide some background on the pervasive violence in society that makes it likely that interpreters will be called upon to interpret for victims who have been subjected to a level of violence that may be unfamiliar in their own lives. It is not unexpected that victims of violence may suffer long-term damage from their experience; however, all who encounter victims on their path from the trauma to physical and psychological healing may also suffer from their exposure to the trauma of others. The victims suffer primary trauma and those in the helping professions may suffer secondary or vicarious trauma.

This chapter aims to introduce interpreters to the concept of trauma –informed interpreting, which ideally should parallel the trauma-informed services provided to these victims. Finally, this chapter hopes to sensitize interpreters to the indicators of vicarious trauma so that they can address these symptoms and develop a self-care plan to prevent, or at least mitigate, its effects on those who interpret for the victims of violence, enabling them to continue to provide these indispensable language access services.

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