Article published in:Methodology of Narrative Study: What the first thirty years of Narrative Inquiry have revealed
Edited by Allyssa McCabe and Dorien Van De Mieroop
[Narrative Inquiry 31:1] 2021
► pp. 236–262
Agency and communion in sexual abuse survivors’ narratives
This study uses a form of narrative analysis to examine a sample of sexual abuse survivors’ impact statements (n = 117) given in court at the sentencing of the former USA Gymnastics Olympic team doctor, Larry Nassar. Narrative analysis allows for prioritization of the victim’s perspective. Statements are analyzed using themes of agency and communion (McAdams et al., 1996) and ineffectiveness and alienation (McCabe & Dinh, 2016). Inclusion of ineffectiveness and alienation extends the work of McAdams, which began in the 1990s. Findings show that ineffectiveness and communion are positively correlated, as are ineffectiveness and alienation. Age and agency are also positively correlated such that older victims readily express themes of personal power and achievement. Agency and alienation are significantly more common in the statements than ineffectiveness. These findings suggest that participants’ sense of communion is particularly harmed by their victimization, and that impact statements have agentic-based and communion-based functions.
Keywords: Child sexual abuse, agency, communion, victim impact statement, narrative, Nassar
Published online: 27 October 2020
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