Source: (2002) British Journal of Social Work. 32: 1067-1087.

Sexual abuse has a devastating impact on children, yet abused children often have little voice in the legal process. However, write Ronit Leichtentritt and Bilha Davidson-Arad, these victims need to be given a voice and they need to be heard if they are to experience that restoration of power necessary for psychological wholeness. With this in mind, the authors focus on how Israeli social workers made sense of victims’ experiences and constructed them for the court by means of the victim impact statement (VIS), a statement that has legal, social, and therapeutic importance. They pay particular attention to the forms used by Israeli social workers to construct the statements. The background for this study is constructivism, the perspective that human beings actively construct and co-construct meaning out of their own life experiences and those of others. Hence, the work of Israeli social workers with sexually abused children to develop victim impact statements is seen as construction of a narrative or story resulting from the relationship between the social worker and the child.