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Maddie Lang — May 7, 2024

Healing Together: Why Meeting Other Survivors is Important in our Journey Towards Healing

Maddie Lang

Experiencing interpersonal harm can be an incredibly isolating experience. Isolation may be a tactic of abuse used by someone causing harm to maintain power and control over someone else. Isolation can also be felt by survivors from the social environments in which we all live that often victim blame or invalidate the harm that is happening within them. All too often, those who have experienced harm feel alone in what they have gone through, making it difficult to feel a sense of safety and community with others. This is what makes having spaces for survivors to come together, share their experiences, and what has aided in their healing so critical. 

Healing is a process that looks different to each person, and how someone heals from their experience is individual to them and their circumstances. For many, the healing process is one with many ups and downs, breakthroughs and setbacks. Overall, healing means being able to see the harm that has happened to you in the context of your whole life and not as the defining feature. Healing from trauma takes effort and is challenging, and can offer growth and restoration. 

Meeting other survivors can be impactful to the healing process. It offers the chance to understand that we are not alone in our experiences, and hear from others about what has or hasn’t worked for them in their journey. Being in community with people who have shared experiences invites hope into our lives to see what resiliency can look like within ourselves. As human beings, we are social creatures, and connections and relationships with others are central to our well-being – we are not meant to do this alone. Trauma makes it feel as though others cannot be trusted and that the world isn’t safe. This makes being part of a supportive environment, with people who care, an important piece to the puzzle of healing. 

In my work with survivors – from community settings to the campus environment – I have seen how powerful it is for survivors to be together in a safe and supportive space. A common theme that comes up in these spaces is the feeling of “I am alone in this,” and “There aren’t other people in this world who care.” These beliefs can cause so much pain and loneliness. Each time someone has shared these thoughts and feelings in a group setting, I have seen other survivors share in this feeling, while also letting each other know that there are people who care, sitting right around them. Knowing that there are people who care about you, who believe you, and are walking with you in your recovery can be a turning point for a lot of people. Vulnerability and letting people in, especially after experiencing harm, is difficult, and when we are open to letting others see us and help us, it can transform the way we see ourselves and the world. 

When survivors come together, they uplift each other through validation of similar experiences or reactions, sharing of coping skills and resources, and engagement in the freedom to talk about their experiences openly. These gatherings can happen in lots of ways and take various forms, and if you’re not sure where to start it can be helpful to check out services offered through a local survivor/victim service agency, your school’s wellness office, or a campus/community organization focused on survivorship or advocacy. You don’t have to do this alone, help and support is available when you are ready.

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