“Other stories come second or third-hand, via friends who acted as confidants to the assaulted,” Tara Rose writes for Washington Post. Her article, titled, “Women are suffering under the weight of each other’s stories” talks about the profound experience of heartache women carry when they have experienced sexual assault. Women carry a magnitude of heartbreaking and difficult stories, many of which are hidden from the mainstream. Stories are only told from one woman to another- stories that are brutal, gruesome, and difficult to take.
Women bear the responsibility of bearing the responsibility of other women. In recovery we use terms like ‘co-signing’ to describe taking on the dark secrets of another person and holding onto them ourselves. Holding onto our own dark secrets, memories, and stories, can take a physical, psychological, and spiritual toll. The same is true for carrying the weight of others’ experiences.
“When a woman tells me someone else’s story in confidence, it isn’t to gossip,” Rose explains. “It’s because she needs to get that ugly knowledge off her chest without burdening the survivor. Knowing the details of someone else’s assault is obviously nowhere near the trauma of going through the experience itself, but holding that knowledge can wear us down.”
Process groups are common and important through the first year of recovery for women because of this experience. Women rely on one another to support one another, but in doing so they need support for themselves. In the privacy and safety of a process group, a woman has the opportunity to release everything she has had held onto her entire life- grief, anguish, and pain, belonging to her and to so many other women she has come upon in her life.
Process groups give women the opportunity to cope with their own experiences of the past and of the present. In bedrooms, hallways, and common areas, new confessions are coming to light everyday as the wellspring of the female experience is finally released. Recovery is a deeply healing process that seems to act on a quantum scale. When one woman is healed, so many others are healed by proxy.
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