Coping with trauma in domestic migrant worker narratives: Linguistic, emotional and psychological perspectives

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Trauma can be defined as an event that goes beyond ordinary modes of experience and linguistic representation. It represents a break not just with a particular form of representation but with the possibility of representation at all. Drawing on a large corpus of domestic migrant worker narratives, the article analyses trauma narratives in which migrant women share their experiences while working for abusive employers. The stories deal with unspeakable suffering and humiliation, and the article attempts to outline the narrative structures that characterise trauma storytelling: broken narratives with voids in the narrative flow. It also analyses the emotional component of trauma narratives focusing on crying, which is seen as an authentication of feeling and meaning. Finally, the article considers how the women make sense of their traumatic experiences, and how peer support becomes essential in the narrators' attempts to rewrite their life stories from victimhood to survival and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-221
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Broken narratives
  • Crying
  • Discourse analysis
  • Foreign domestic helpers
  • Narrative therapy
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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