Even though most of the exercises presented here can benefit individuals working on their own, this book will be best utilized by women who work together with other women to support each other through the difficult but often joyful process of healing. Survivors working together in a structured way can safely accomplish many things that cannot occur alone or in a one-on-one therapeutic environment.
Being in the same room with other survivors satisfies a deep longing to know you are not alone in this experience; you are not the only one in the world who suffered as you did. Hearing other women talk about their foibles and problems helps you understand that you are not crazy--that others, too, share your troubled relationships, self-criticism and abuse, space-outs, unexplained physical symptoms, etc.
Survivors are often cut off emotionally from their experience. Being with other women and listening to their stories can usually help you get in touch with, and move through, your own pain. It is often easier to cry (or get angry) for another person than it is for yourself.
Twelve-step programs for abuse survivors can provide women with the kind of companionship noted earlier. However, the feedback I have received is that most survivors eventually decide they want to move into a group environment that is more structured. They want to work in a survivor's group that is facilitated in some way and is actually doing something besides socializing.
Traditional therapist-based groups are often expensive. In addition, some therapists seem to feel that a confrontational approach to abuse recovery is the way to go. I've heard tales of therapists brow-beating, terrorizing and/or ignoring folks in their groups, telling them it's "for their own good." Some therapists have even gotten romantically involved with a member of their group! Thus, the environment created is almost as abusive as the survivor's home. If you've had a negative experience like any of the above-mentioned, don't give up on the potential of group work. You just need to try it another way!
Finally, a group of women working together can create an environment that provides each participant with a substitute family. For those women who feel they have lost the support of their own families, a survivor's group can provide the requisite nurturing to enable one to feel loved and cared for again.
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