Telling your story
is a way for sexual assault survivors to begin healing. Sometimes that
is a hard thing to do. Art
a good way for trauma survivors to begin to express themselves safely.
Taking small steps
towards expressing yourself may be easier.
Most victims of
serious trauma actually store memories of the event in the form of images
instead of words.
That's why it's so hard to find the words to describe it. Sometimes
it's just too immediate to use words. It may be easier to start telling
your story using metaphors or images.
Images ~ Words
stay safe and do not push yourself to do anything you don't feel
comfortable with. Be aware of your boundaries and stop to use coping
skills if needed.)
see also: Online
The simplest way
to tell your story with images is to find some magazines and make a
collage out of the images you find there.
What you will need:
Round tipped scissors,
paper and rubber cement. Just select the images you identify with and
paste them in any order onto a peice of paper. This is used in art therapy
Examples of collages, examples
Often you may find
you want to use words along with your images.
You can also create
How to create
a mandala. More information about mandalas
I | II.
Mandalas are also used in art therapy and are associated with jungian
theories of healing. Sometimes you can just draw a circle and then draw
inside of it. If you like you can divide the circle into four and draw
images in each section. It reminds me of the circle of healing.
For the web savvy:
your story in an
Sometimes when I
can't bring myself to "say" what is bothering me I like to
do an art therapy google-game. Basically I use google (or any search
engine) to look for images that I identify with. I post them in a survivor
message board forum. Sometimes I add a few words under each image to
'hint' at what I am really trying to tell people. Sort of like a poem
or haiku. I usually feel a little better for having people feel - if
not fully understand my message.
If you like the
idea- try using google
image or altavista
image to find the right metaphor/image.
You can save your
story to a message
board creativity forum or to your own anonymous web
page. If you do not want
to share your story yet you can put it in powerpoint or a word document.
Please do not use
your full name, address, email address with your name as part of it,
or phone number on either for safety reasons. This is always a basic
internet safety rule.
1/ Message boards
To post the image
to a message
board type a descriptive word in google
image and then double click on the image you feel is right. Next
you can either: example
1/ Double click
on the image (or words 'see full size image') to enlarge it and then
highlight the url, right click, select copy (or just copy as you would
should look like this: example1,
Example of a url:
2/ Go to the website
and right click directly on the image and select copy image location.
Then in the message
board post click on the icon that represents inserting a picture (sometimes
a tree inside a frame). There should be a row of little icons at the
top of the space you type into. One of them will be the 'insert picture'
icon. If you put the mouse over the icons they may have descriptions
that pop up.
After you click
on the picture icon- paste the url into the text box that appears. The
tags sometimes look like this:
(Please give credit
to the website or person the images came from)
2/ Web sites
You can also create
an online photo essay using this tool - Create
your own photo essay or using free images or your own art work.
If you are saving
your story to an anonymous web
page you have to think about
copyright. Someone else did the work to create that image. You might
want to find free images to use.
Examples of photoessays:
of photoessays - a story in image , survivor
art work, Perceptions
(the last one may trigger), (do not use these images
Here are some copyright
free image sources:
you can search for others
You can also create
yourself using a camera, a drawing or a collage from magazine images.
You shouldn't use
their bandwidth so you have to save the images to your own server.
This is not difficult.
Just find the image you want and right click on it- save it to your
computer hard drive. (Do not do this if someone finding the images could
be a problem.) Then when you create your site from a template (they
will explain) you can just upload the image from your computer like
an email attachment. It's as easy as using email.
When you save the
image to your computer be sure to notice what folder it is saving the
image to. It varies but often automatically saves them to the my pictures
folder, the desktop or another file folder. You can select the folder
you prefer as you are saving them.
Here are some free
art - a visual arts blog site
Here are some easy
to use photo album sites:
These two allow
you to post images to message boards by url.
Please use internet
safety precautions when setting up your website. Do not give your address,
full name, phone number or real location to the server or anyone else
on the internet. If you need to create a free email that does not contain
your real name that only takes five minutes. Some free email servers
If you don't want
to share your story with others at all yet- you can create the story
in a word document or in power point. Just copy and paste the images.
find out how to clear your computer history click here.
This will not delete any images you saved to your hard drive.
It only clears the record of what websites you have visited. If you
live in an unsafe environment you should do this. Images you saved may
be saved to your desktop folder or your my images folder. You can find
them by clicking on Start in the lower left corner, then my recent documents.
You can also search for them by clicking on start and then search. Type
in the name of the image.
This is intended
to be a free - association creative arts exercise. The author is not
a trained therapist or counselor. If you do not feel safe doing this
please don't. It is most important that you stay safe.
You also need to
see a trained therapist,
counselor or speak to a rape crisis hotline
about your healing
See also: Coping
skills for panic attacks
If you want to
write your story with words you can post it at a support message
board or submit it to a website
that publishes stories anonymously.
Power and Mystery of Naming Things by Eve Ensler
survivor tells her story
- video interview. This survivor published a book as well.
of posting it to a support group is that you will definitely get positive,
supportive feed back. No one at a rape victim support group is going
to disbelieve you. If they did, they would probably be banned. Support
groups are usually well moderated.
Word game: tell
your story in butterfly
survivor story can be difficult, but it can be healing and empowering
too. It also lets other rape victims know they aren't alone in their
experiences and feelings.
When you're done, take a look
at some of the other survivor
other survivor's stories.
You can also listen to books
on tape or psa's
on how to get help.
back the news
This is a survivor / feminist
site – I am no longer a victim is the motto. When you hit your
survivor stage you will feel stronger and may want to tell your story
on a message board. This site deals with the telling of our stories
and how it aids in the healing
process and regaining our strength.
You may read stories
or submit your story to this site. I am not sure if they are updating
the site currently but the form works.
in the Darkness
"This Site contains the
stories of over 600 courageous survivors. If you wish to add your story,
you may use the form below."
may read stories at Surviving to thriving
Foliano, Janet S. (1995). Listening
to the voices of survivors: The effects of rape on self-esteem and self-blame.
; Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and
Engineering, 56(4-B), Oct 1995. pp. 2323. link
"Several researchers have
begun to look at the long-term effects of rape (Calhoun, Atkeson, &
Resick, 1982; Cohen & Roth, 1987; Ellis, Atkeson, & Calhoun,
1981; Resick, 1983). This research suggests that women beyond the initial
crisis phase are in need of services. Depression, guilt, shame, fear,
anxiety and interpersonal difficulties have been found to be present
in survivors beyond one year after the rape (Cohen & Roth, 1987;
Resick, 1983). Crisis theorists (Burgess & Holstrom, 1974; Sutherland
& Schurl, 1970) have provided a model by which the emotional sequelae
of rape can be better understood. However, crisis theory models are
limited because they compartmentalize the aftermath of rape into phases
and the actual experience of being raped can be lost (Fischer, 1984).
A qualitative study of rape survivors' experiences of self-blame and
self-esteem was conducted. The voices of rape survivors are employed
to gain a better understanding of the experience of surviving rape.
Three participants took part in a one to two hour interview designed
to capture the multi-layered nature of the psychological experience
of surviving rape. The study utilized the voice-centered method of data
collection and analysis as described by Brown and Gilligan (1992). The
interview tapes were listened to four times in the following way: the
story the participant told, how the participant spoke of herself, how
the participant spoke about the rape in relation to others, and how
the participant spoke of her world. The acute reaction stage was absent
from the accounts of the participants. They instead discussed a denial
phase, in which self-blame, self-damaging behaviors, and lower self-esteem
played a role. The shift from the denial phase to the integration phase
seemed to be marked with breaking the silence by sharing their story
with a caring, supportive person(s). Healing was also aided for the
participants by participation in group therapy. The participants also
appeared to have experience"