Sharing your story

Woman drinking coffee from ceramic cups during interview

Not everyone chooses to share their story

Doing so may happen in counselling or therapy or with a trusted friend or family member. The process is very individual and revisiting traumatic memories and graphic details of events can be very retraumatising. It is by no means a necessary part of the healing process. While it is generally important to acknowledge what happened and how it has affected you, this is different from drilling down into the details of your trauma.

Sharing your story publicly is a very personal choice, and definitely not for everyone. It takes great courage as well as good support and feeling and being safe enough to proceed. While more people are speaking of their experiences all the time, it is important that each survivor chooses what is right for them, at the time. No one should ever be coerced or feel compelled to speak out. That said doing so has been an important part of building community understanding and a sense of connection for survivors who have chosen to do so.

Revisiting traumatic experiences can throw people back so they feel as though the trauma is happening again in the present. Trauma, especially trauma from childhood has biological impacts on your brain and body.

“At times, there are big hurdles and sometimes you don’t feel like dredging up any more crap. You get tired of the gut churning feelings, but the pain is just below the surface at all times anyway and facing it has really helped it to lose its powerful hold over me. Sometimes it is hard to talk about things. I just allow the emotions and pain to come up and I try to ride with it. Then when I feel comfortable enough I speak of why I am feeling the way I am…”

(study participant in van Loon & Kralik, 2005c)

Thoughtful mature woman sitting on couch with crossed legs and drinking hot beverage

Your trauma experiences are not your whole story, even though it can feel like they are at times. Talking can help to put those past experiences outside of you, and disconnect the issues they raise from who you are, so you are able to separate yourself from the experiences (van Loon & Kralik, 2005c). Some survivors believe that it is important to acknowledge their abuse and speak about its impacts, rather than the details of what happened (van Loon & Kralik, 2005b).

It is important only to share your story when and if you feel ready to do so, and only within a safe environment, with a person you can trust.

Speaking about your experiences and talking through how they affected you can help rob the trauma or abuse of its power. Other processes can support your body to heal too. It is often important to work with the body and the mind as trauma affects both as well as the way they work together.

Pensive ethnic man in earbuds writing in notebook

“Wading through self-doubt, grief, disbelief, loss and confusion at this stage of my life has been devastating and overwhelming at times. Whilst I have access to really fantastic professional support, and wonderful supportive friendships there have been times when I've needed just a short conversation with someone who knows that what I'm working through is hard.

It is so powerful to be heard and to have my pain heard after standing in silence for so long. To be heard by someone with empathy, a specialist understanding of trauma who can show me that I am actually surviving, is like being carried safely for just a brief part of the day. It's enough to be able to help me gather my hope, uncover my resources and find the strength I forged in my childhood to keep going and to keep walking towards the freedom I've always wanted.”


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