Friday, May 30, 2014
Most of us have had people in our lives that hurt us, and we never got the chance to tell them how we truly feel. Imagine being a survivor, where people have hurt you in some of the worst ways imaginable. Survivors often have mixed emotions towards their perpetrators: anger, hurt, sadness, maybe even love if they were close with the perpetrator or were related to them. Holding these feelings deep inside without finding a healthy release can lead to many physical and emotional issues.
Recently I was working with a client who was sexually abused by a family member. I told her to write a letter to him that we wouldn't send. The letter could be as short as one page or as long as 10 pages; the length didn't matter, what mattered is that she felt she wrote to him everything she needed to say. I also told her that I wouldn't read it unless she gave me permission.
The next week she brought in her 2 page letter. In the letter, she discussed her feelings towards the perpetrator and how his actions have affected her life. The letter ended with hope for her future. After processing how it was for her to write the letter, I told her we were going to have a funeral for it. She could dispose of any way she wanted (except burning, due to fire hazards). She chose to use the shredder in the office. I asked if she had any last words, and allowed her to shred the letter herself.
When I asked how she was feeling, she stated that she felt a weight had been lifted. She couldn't believe how something so simple as writing a letter could make her feel so free. She has even decided to continue doing this ritual on her own!