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Advocate or Ally pt. 1

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

Understanding and Working with Survivors: A Basic Primer


A SURVIVOR'S PERSPECTIVE

When young men and women began returning from the jungles of Vietnam, they found a country divided on how to receive them. Worse, those who loved and supported our veterans had a hard time relating to them. The veterans were changed, altered, by the experiences, traumas, and losses they suffered while in that foreign war zone. Even those who’s psyches weren’t ravaged acted differently.


This is the power of perspective. It literally changes the way you view the world. Those men and women had left a world of death around every corner to come home to people worrying about lawn care and fashion. It didn’t sync up with their new perspective on life. They didn’t know how to relate to this new existence, and it didn’t know how to relate to them. The stakes, the consequences, and the weight of the world had been irrevocably changed.


When you interact with survivors of childhood sexual trauma you are dealing with the same issues. Their perspective on the world has changed, been altered by circumstances outside of their control. They are not seeing the same world you see; they are seeing the world through the lens of their trauma.


WHAT TO DO?

Therefore, our first order of action in dealing with survivors is to be patient. Establish in our minds that we are functionally speaking different languages and it will take time to learn and understand each other. Working toward this place of unity will not only aid the survivor but make you a stronger, more patient, compassionate, and well-rounded human being. And isn’t that what we all want?

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