By Carol L.
Unless someone who has experienced domestic violence has an opportunity to be helped through the phases of recovery from domestic abuse, one may never fully recover and could cycle through the memories and psychological damage over and over again for years to come. Carol L. is a mental health counselor who has worked in the domestic violence field for 20 years and suggests the following continuum for the healing phases from domestic abuse.
The following is an effort to make the confusing and disheartening process of coming out of an abusive relationship a hopeful possibility. It is presented as simple on purpose so that it may be seen as know-able and do-able. The serving or ministering phase (PHASE 5) also serves to help survivors resist the possibility of re-engaging with another perpetrator, acting as a kind of deterrent in future relationship dysfunctions. The process is fluid, not necessarily linear, except for phases one and five.
PHASE 1 Breaking the Silence: Telling your story, being heard and hearing other stories; compassionate connections with other survivors; breaking down denial; expressing hopelessness, anger and fear.
PHASE 2 Understanding: Understanding the dynamics of your abuse in light of others’ stories, in a supportive environment. Studying books, attending classes, etc.
PHASE 3 Healing: Retelling your story with the timeline of your whole life in a safe, trauma-informed setting, support group, etc, to neutralize traumatic memories. Therapy interventions for PTSD, depression and anxiety as well as other trauma-generated issues.
PHASE 4 Action: Moving from victim to survivor to victor, losing your shame; boundary issues: restructuring the archaic beliefs from betrayals in childhood and past relationships; understanding and dealing with forgiveness.
PHASE 5 Serving (this is an important part of healing): Ministering and helping other survivors to heal; sharing your story with a goal to create safety and healing for other survivors. Advocacy and support for victims.
©2020 Christian Coalition for Safe Families