Excerpt: From Pain to Power: Overcoming Sexual Trauma & Reclaiming Your True Identity
Honor her need to feel wrath. It is usually not until there is anger—when the deadened nervous system awakens to the reality of the crime of sexual violation—that Princess Warriors begin to heal. Yet other people are prone to label her wrath as sin. The truth is just the opposite. We honor God by honoring who he created us to be. He creates us to have a visceral response to violation so that we can be discerning and wise. Wrath is a legitimate response to violation, and it is part of the healing process. What a celebration of triumph God must feel when we say, “I engage my wrath to protect myself and to promote who you have made me to be.”
In Isaiah 13, we see God’s wrath in connection to his love, “I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. . .Therefore, I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger” (verses 11-13).
Likewise, a Princess Warrior may need to repeat her story, to voice her anger, many times before she can let go of it. Breaking out of silence is a long process, especially in cases where her voice has been suppressed for years.
Below are practical ideas to get her to connect her past experience with who she is today. This is part of her healing journey in a community context:
- Share with her that you want to make her tea and listen to her, or watch a movie, read poetry, or read Scripture until she falls asleep.
- Let me know that you want to join her in an exercise class, or go for a walk or run. Let her cry if she wants or needs to.
- Make dinner for her and with her.
- Make a collage or dream board with her. In this project, you and she find images in magazines that tell her story and point out who she is beyond the trauma.
- Drive her to counseling and wait in the waiting room, and offer to join her and hold her throughout her counseling session.
- Give her a baseball bat to use to hit pillows and let her scream with primal rage.
- Give her a boxing bag and gloves so she hit back against all she has suffered.
- Attend a self-defense course with her.
- Sign up for art classes with her so she and you can draw, paint, and sculpt. Many recreation centers offer such classes for a nominal expense.
- Develop a fund to help cover the costs of therapy, legal support, massage treatment, chiropractic care, or medical or nutritional support.
- Do what you can to help her get enough sleep. That might include being present in her home overnight if she has been feeling unsafe or arranging to have a security system installed.
- Other ideas include reading to her from a devotional or inspirational book, bringing a gentle and affectionate pet for a visit, or giving her a compact disc or a downloadable file of Scripture being read, which she can play as she is falling asleep.
(Excerpt taken from pages 193-195)
The power of doing what you can is not to be under-estimated. You can always just call and text and tell her you are with her in spirit, too. The greatest thing is timing with our involvement. Plan to stay active at the level you can handle for the course of a year. Sometimes that’s a weekly text, and sometimes it can include one of the things I have listed above. You don’t have to be a mind-reader just tell her what you want to do. It’s best not to say, “Just let me know how I can help.” Be an initiator.
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.