The Linguist

The Linguist 53,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 13 of 35

FEATURES Clarisa Carvalho and Caroline Roemmele on the challenges of interpreting for victims of torture Freedom From torture (FFt) is a charity dedicated to the treatment of survivors of torture. We take a holistic approach to rehabilitation, and cater for the distinctive needs of people who have survived physical and emotional abuses of their human rights. torture is a practice used to terrorize, repress and dehumanise people, and it is done by inflicting excruciating psychological and physical pain. the injuries sustained by torture victims, and the acts of violence on others they are forced to witness, have long-lasting effects, and many develop mental health problems. Survivors with little or no command of english access our services through an interpreter. At FFt we believe that cultural interpretation complements linguistic interpreting. therefore our interpreters might need to use their background knowledge to explain what the client is saying, and this is crucial for effective communication. As we see interpreting as an integral part of our clinical service, our interpreters work closely with practitioners to foster a spirit of trust between client, practitioner and interpreter, and this plays a pivotal part in clients' treatment and rehabilitation. While practitioners are trained to deal with people with trauma, interpreters are not. this raises a number of dilemmas and ethical issues. Emerging from torture A traumatic stressor is an event that involves a perceived threat to one's own life or that of another, and is accompanied by an intense fear, horror or helplessness. It can be a unique, individual experience of an event or series of events, or a set of enduring conditions in which the individual's ability to integrate his or her emotional experience is overwhelmed. the person's ability to stay in the present, understand what is happening, and to integrate those feelings and make sense of the experience, is impaired. What is traumatic to one person may not be to another. how trauma is experienced and interpreted by each person is never the same. For example, a person's culture can determine how they understand and respond. there are several symptoms that our clients present. the most common are Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PtSD), depression, anxiety and panic attacks. the common symptoms of PtSD are recurrent and intrusive memories of the event, nightmares, flashbacks, and a sense of reliving the experience, hallucinations, intense anxiety and panic attacks. clients will want to avoid stimuli linked to the trauma – thoughts and feelings associated with it, or anything that may remind them of it. therefore they may have difficulty remembering the traumatic event and speaking about it. they may avoid going outside in case they hear police sirens, for example. their feelings towards other people may be affected, so they avoid relating to people, are suspicious of them or seem detached. they may also be irritable, have outbursts of anger, be hyper vigilant or have difficulty concentrating. they may also describe feelings of despair and hopelessness, and often have sleeping difficulties. Flashbacks can happen in the consulting room when clients try to recall and speak about the trauma. For the client, it is as if they are back in the distressing situation, so they may react in a way that would be appropriate to the original situation. triggers can vary and it is not always possible to pre-empt them. In caroline's consulting room, there is a small window above the door. this often triggers memories of the small windows people may have had in their prison cell. the client may then crouch down on the ground in fear. they will have difficulty seeing caroline as their Facing trauma © ShutterStock

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