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Old 02-09-2014, 03:16 PM   #1
Snow White.
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Theory about 'Healing' from sexual assault

The following was taken from an article that I will post the link to in the comments. It address the idea about why you might struggle and need help months or years after your trauna but that you're still making gains forward:

For many survivors of sexual violence, the simple act of being able to name one’s experience irrespective of what others might call it is a first act in reclaiming autonomy and agency when those things have been violently taken away. And that is often the first step in a process of healing.

Unfortunately, we often talk about healing with the same problematic “spectrum” metaphors we use for violence, with “broken” on one end and “healed” on the other.Much like naming survivors’ trauma as existing on a spectrum, this doesn’t empower survivors because it doesn’t describe what most survivors’ healing journeys looks like.

Healing is much more aptly described as an asymmetrical spiral.I first learned about the spiral model of understanding healing when I trained to be a sexual assault survivor’s advocate at Earlham College. I’m not sure who originally came up with the idea, but I’ve heard healing described as a spiral by a number of counselors and sexual assault and intimate partner violence advocates over the years.Whoever originally came up with the idea is brilliant, as their model describes so well what so many of us experience when we do the difficult but empowering work of healing from trauma.This is roughly what the healing spiral looks like (excuse my crude drawing):

When we first begin to process being sexually assaulted, we are close to the trauma (pictured in the center of the spiral). Each moment or hour or day is filled with triggers that bring us back to our trauma.

But in time and as we begin to heal, we find ourselves spiraling further from the trauma. Does that mean we won’t ever have flashbacks or find ourselves close to the hurt again? No. We may be four years into our healing and we might feel that we’re far from what happened when seeing someone who looks like our attacker launches us into a panic attack.

(Side note: that’s why trigger warnings are so important – they help people avoid the things that will send them straight back to dealing with their trauma.)

The spiral model for understanding healing is an important departure from seeing healing as a spectrum, as it allows survivors to be gentle and loving with themselves no matter where they are in their healing.

The spectrum, on the other hand, often leads survivors to feel shamed (sometimes because we actually shame them) for being triggered when they are “supposed” to have been healed by now. A linear spectrum keeps survivors from seeking the help they need when they find themselves triggered when they’ve been working on healing for some time. No two people’s spirals look the same, just as no two people’s assaults affect them in the same way.

As such, the spiral model of healing is powerful because, again, it lets the survivor describe their trauma and their healing in their own terms while also giving them a way to name what their process moving forward can look like.

Knowing that it won’t always hurt quite as much as it does now, even if it will always be part of our lives, allows hope and empowers us to envision a life of survival, a life of coping and even healing.Understanding that healing is a spiral empowers survivors with tools to advance their healing. And that’s crucial to imagining a survivor-centered logic when thinking and talking about sexual violence.

Last edited by Snow White. : 02-09-2014 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 02-09-2014, 03:19 PM   #2
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It might be easier to read here as parts are bolded, I've had a difficult time doing this on my phone. It is point number four. Please be trigger aware the article does discuss rape and negative culture responses.

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Old 02-09-2014, 03:23 PM   #3
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This was interesting to read, thanks for sharing.
It makes sense of some of my experiences.

In my dreams I slew the dragon

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Old 02-09-2014, 03:32 PM   #4
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Me too, in fact it answers a thread I have in this page about coping well for a while and then struggling again.
I italicized my favorite line :)

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Old 02-09-2014, 03:48 PM   #5
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Thanks for sharing.
Makes sense why some days are harder than others.
And I like the line you italicised!

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