Monday, May 26, 2014

how to interpret traumatic testimony

In the 'interpretips' video below Marjory Bancroft, of voice of love, offers suggestions for protecting yourself as an intepreter when interpreting traumatic testimony (eg. a story of rape or torture).  Voice of love develops training and resources to support interpreting for survivors of torture, war trauma and sexual violence.  It's such important work and I'm so grateful that she's doing it, but I was really taken aback by her suggestion in this video that interpreters can protect themselves by using the third person! It seems to me that survivors of trauma are the LAST people whose words and power we want to diminish as interpreters by using 'he said, she said'.  I am also dubious that speaking FOR others in this way actually reduces the emotional impact much on the interpreter, at least enough to justify stealing their voice like this. But I'd love to hear other thoughts on this issue.  She also has other more useful suggestions for how to stay centered and grounded when doing this sort of interpreting. 

My own suggestion that I would add to hers here is to wash your hands and face with cold water afterwards, and literally shake out your limbs and head (best done in the bathroom where people won't look at you funny : ) Any other tips to add?


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