The Resilience of the Human Spirit
Why do some women overcome traumatic childhood experiences while others, understandably, suffer terrible psychological consequences?
The devastating effects of childhood sexual abuse have been widely chronicled, validating the difficulty with which many survivors struggle. Often overlooked are the millions of women who have overcome early trauma to lead successful, happy lives. Why do these women whom we might otherwise have expected to fail have such tremendous strength and resilience? This question is at the heart of With the Phoenix Rising as it paints a moving and optimistic portrait of ten women who have overcome the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and shows how their resilient success can be encouraged in others who have suffered similar traumas.
Through its emphasis on survivors strengths and resilience over the life course, this book brings a new focus to the study of child sexual abuse. Therapists, researchers, and survivors will gain an important understanding of resiliency in the context of family, community, and women s lives. The authors give voice to women who have overcome the trauma of abuse.
LINDA M. WILLIAMS, director of research, the Stone Center, Wellesley College
This important book breaks new ground .For any reader wishing to be inspired by stories of the human spirit s triumph over adversity.
DANIEL BROWN, Harvard Medical School, Simmons School of Social Work
The women s voices of With the Phoenix Rising bring to life the spirit and hope every survivor can discover. This wonderful book has something to offer new clinicians as well as seasoned trauma professionals.
LINDA T. SANFORD, author of Strong at the Broken Places
Full of practical wisdom and perspective for trauma clinicians working with all trauma survivor groups. Survivors will find their strengths and dignity cherished without giving the slightest aid–and–comfort to perpetrators and their apologists. With the Phoenix Rising palpably enlarges what we know about how a trauma survivor can construct a good human life.
JONATHAN SHAY, staff psychiatrist, Department of Veterans Affairs; author of Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character
Part I: Setting the Stage
1 Resiliency 3
2 The Women s Stories 23
Part II: Safe Havens, Important Relationships
3 School and Work 49
4 Intimate Relationships 69
5 Relationships with Children 79
6 Relationships Outside the Family 95
Part III: Processes and Strategies for Developing Resiliency
7 The Role of Psychotherapy 113
8 The Management of Feelings 137
9 The Importance of Self–Care 171
10 Making Sense of the Abuse 189
Part IV: A Lifelong Process
11 Revisiting the Participants 215
Appendix: Research Methodology 239
About the Authors 249