Justice is healing : an indigenous approach to sexual trauma

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2017-12

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Ringland, Valerie

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This dissertation brings indigenous perspectives on trauma and healing into academic literature in an effort to expand the Western scientific cultural understanding of trauma due to sexual violence, offer alternative causes and tools for healing. The term “Western” refers to a culture principally based on Judeo-Christian and scientific thinking that is predominant in the United States today, and is the culture out of which the modern field of social work was founded. Though the term “Indigenous” may refer to a cultural group whose beliefs, traditions and ways of living originated with connection to a specific place, “Indigenous” refers more generally to people with a medicine-wheel-based perspective on life, see the world as cyclical and have a conscious awareness of an inherent inter-connectedness of being (Cervantes & McNeill, 2008). Concepts such as justice and healing differ by culture, and are both topics of focus in the field of social work. In indigenous thinking, justice is synonymous with healing. Within an indigenous cosmology, this dissertation explores healing of sexual trauma through three projects: (1) a theoretical approach to healing trauma generally and sexual trauma in particular, with simple tools for social work practitioners and everyday people to use; (2) use of the indigenous healing tool empathic dialogue as qualitative research interview for people within the roles of sex offender, family member and victim; and (3) a Bayesian network analysis using indigenous theory to illuminate behaviors suggesting that adolescents are carrying trauma from childhood.

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