November 23rd, 2009
Have you seen the movie “Precious”? I found it to be very moving, upsetting and enlightening. I thought that the main character, Precious, gave us some excellent examples of the negative effects of trauma and abuse - be it physical, sexual, or emotional.
Precious is a African American, overweight girl who has been raped and abused (physically and verbally) by family and friends, while also being marginalized by our dominate culture. In the film, during some difficult times, we see her “escape” into fantasy lands – envisioning a date with a cute boy, becoming a pop star, or walking the runway as a fashion model. A particularly heartbreaking tragedy was watching Precious deny her own race and ethnicity. She does this by “escaping” into a fantasy where she is Caucasian, slimmed down, with hair like Madonna.
These are excellent examples of how our minds provide us escape when threatened. It can be helpful in getting us through the difficult periods. The challenge, though, is when these escapes become habitual, making it difficult for survivors of abuse to be in the present. Some folk find it safer to be disassociated, anxious, or worried. The present has proven to be dangerous, the mind/body/spirit can’t trust that safety is at hand, so it shuts down.
This is where therapy and counseling can be helpful. When I work with clients – men or women who’ve survived abuse, assault, neglect or rape – we look at the situation through several different lenses. First, I help folk find ways of coping with the dissociations and anxieties. Then, when the client is ready, we go deeper, healing from both the physical and spiritual wounds that may still exist.
It’s a process – coming to terms with disarming truths. But it’s also a life-giving experience learning that you are no longer a prisoner of your past. You can escape the effects of trauma, experience connection, and learn to thrive.
To schedule an appointment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 202/460-6384.