Chapter 1 introduces the four guiding metaphors for this research, being, Social Construction, Narrative, Writing and Participatory Action Research. The Writing-metaphor provides the structure for the research process, and PAR highlights the important aspects of participation and ownership. In this chapter I proposes a narrative hermeneutical and a cultural linguistic approach to theology. This approach has as its primary motive care and empathy, and the stitching of life stories into the greater narrative of the Christian story. Approaching theology in such a way urges Practical Theology to be both politically aware and courageous, and to impart this courage on people to transform their lives and communities. Along this way Practical Theology accepts the challenge as Public Theology to bring her methodical skills and her knowledge of spirituality, meaning and transcendency into a conversation with the world around her. Chapter 2 introduces the action field of the research. Part of this introduction entails an encounter - a story - just as valid as any other grand narrative. The story of a survivor. This study acknowledges children survivors of sexual abuse as the most important source of information. Open interviews – individual and in groups - were facilitated and real conversations were written down to show the emphasis this research places on participation, while the researcher takes on the role of a curious companion on the journey. This chapter also shows the critical importance that the work of the narrative researcher and therapist with children survivors of sexual abuse must be informed by knowledge and an understanding of the politics of abuse, the politics of adult-child-relations, and the politics of power. In chapter 3 I discuss and bring to the fore voices from the background since these voices often force themselves into the spotlight. Discussions on the long term effects of child sexual abuse from a traditional, psycho-analytical model introduce to the reader the restraining and subjugating power of these discourses. The therapeutic frameworks of Kamsler and Baird are utilised to indicate both the restraining effects of these discourses and problem-saturated stories, but also ways in which the survivor can free herself from these restraints. Chapter 4 shows the stories of two survivors which developed from unique outcomes, resisting subjugating discourses and problem-saturated stories. This chapter tells the stories of survivors being invited to capture these “sparkling events” and develop them into prefered stories, and in living these stories recognise and experience themselves in prefered and satisfactory ways. Chapter 5 describes and introduces various groups, methods and approaches through which the news of empowerment and transformation can be circulated. Through the creating of acommunity of shared experience the impact of the insider status and role of the survivors were discovered. This community created space for the survivors in which their experiences, skills and knowledge could be acknowledged, shared and celebrated. Not only were the stories of the surivors re-written and transformed by this community, but could they start dreaming about the transformation of their communities and how their stories and their journey could touch and transform the lives of numerous other survivors. Not only are the importance and benefit of critical reflection by a professional academic community shown in chapter 6, but also the value of self reflection. The transcripts in this chapter present almost all of the conversation that took place after a presentation of my work in research and practice – as it is portrayed in this thesis – at the Evanston Family Therapy Center. These transcripts do not only show a critical appreciation of the work and approach but also bring to the fore many questions and themes highlighted by the reflecting team, themes and questions which will only enrich and further develop the story of this journey.
Thesis (PhD (Practical Theology))--University of Pretoria, 2006.