Inside Voices: Witnessing Oral Disclosures of Trauma
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Examining the relationship between speaker and listener provides insight into empathy and ethical responses to disclosures of trauma. This study examines the delivery and reception of testimony in performing arts contexts and quasi-juridical settings to find patterns in the way the communication of trauma is delivered and received. What can we learn from the patterns that emerge among survivors as they speak out about their trauma in various settings? Vocalizing an experience that has caused trauma creates a space that exposes both the speaker and the listener to a kind of vulnerability, which can be felt in that instant as either a release in a process of healing or a new trauma. By analyzing recordings of testimony and spoken word poetry, trends in responses occur that suggest venue and sense of personal responsibility greatly impact the relationship between speaker and listener and the communication process as a whole. These results offer several ways to consider new approaches to sharing and responding to disclosures of trauma.