There are many things that a survivor of power-based personal violence might do to aid in their healing; outlined below are a number of different tools and strategies. Everyone’s experience of power-based personal violence is different and various strategies will be useful for different people, alone or in combination.
None of these are substitutes for the work done with a helping professional, but they may be used in combination with therapy, between sessions, or to help a person who is not yet ready to seek treatment.
Bibliotherapy is the reading of specifically suggested books that provide background information and/or help normalize one’s experience. Our list of suggested reading is below.
- Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy by Francine Shapiro
- The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep by William C. Dement
- Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
- Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me by Charlamagne Tha God
- The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
- Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
- Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff
- Rising Strong by Brene Brown
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
- My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem, MSW, LICSW
- Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman
- Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: A Guide and Map for Recovering from Childhood Trauma by Pete Walker
- Transforming a Rape Culture 2nd Edition by Emilie Buchwald (Editor), Pamela Fletcher (Editor), Martha Roth (Editor)
- The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, 20th Anniversary Edition by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis
- The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love Paperback by Janet W. Hardy (Author), Dossie Easton (Author)
- Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller
- Childhood Disrupted by Donna Nakazawa
Self-help and therapy workbooks can provide structure activities and guidance to aid your healing. Our suggested workbooks are below.
- The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne
- The Courage to Heal Workbook by Laura Davis
- The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism: Evidence-Based Skills to Help You Let Go of Self-Criticism, Build Self-Esteem, and Find Balance by Sharon Martin
- The Resiliency Workbook by Nan Henderson
- Healing Anxiety,Depression and Unworthiness: 78 Brain-Changing Mindfulness & Yoga Practices by Mary NurrieStearns
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation techniques can help to calm our nervous systems and give us more control over racing and repetitive thoughts. Start small, maybe five minutes a few times a week and work your way up.
- Intro to Mindfulness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtsdz_jhB7c&t=22s
- Breathing Meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFSc7Ck0Ao0
- Body and Breath Awareness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEzbdLn2bJc
- Short, 3-minute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOne1P0TKL8
- Non-guided, follow the sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGFog-OuFDM
- Music as a meditative focus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1pDswSyrrk
- Mindfulness resources from TCNJ’s Center for Mindfulness and Compassion: https://religiousandspirituallife.tcnj.edu/center-for-mindfulness-and-compassion/mindfulness-compassion-resources/
Grounding techniques are simple ways to bring oneself into the present moment and help contain feelings of panic or distress.
- Use your senses: Out loud or to yourself, label five things you see; three things you hear; and one thing you can physically feel. Can you taste or smell anything right now?
- Use your body: wiggle your toes; roll your shoulders; use small movements to remind yourself of your body in space.
- Use your breath: inhale for a comfortable count (3-4 for many of us) and exhale for 1-2 counts longer. Repeat. This activates your vagal nerve and calms your body and also helps center you in the moment.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy defines our needs to survive and thrive. The needs on the lower tiers of the pyramid must, in theory, be met first before we pursue the higher tiers. Often in healing, we need to assess what needs are not being met and work to do so. Assessing where you are in your needs can help direct your goals and gain insight into how you are feeling.
Directed Journaling Prompts
Journalling is often recommended by therapists as a form of self-exploration and to aid in processing distressing emotions. The prompts below may be useful on your own as well.
- Create a list of areas where you derive self-esteem from (this might be academics, projects, accomplishments, friends, family, faith/spirituality, etc); expand each list by recording different people, places, things, etc, in your life that fit into each category; expand a few of these listed items by explaining what about them makes you feel good and how they are a resource to you.
- The ABC Organizer from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be helpful in managing negative or repetitive thoughts. A worksheet on how to do this is linked below. We recommend adding a fifth column, labeled E, for New Emotion. This will make more sense after you read the .pdf but this fifth column is about how you might feel differently if you believed your new thought. https://iveronicawalsh.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/cbtafg_abcdextract_handout.pdf
- It is normal for thoughts and feelings to surface between therapy sessions, even if we have begun to feel better about a past event or memory. The link below is for a log that will help you take a “snapshot” of any time a thought, feeling, or sensation shows up. Journaling in this way can help you manage the emotion/discomfort and provides a record of things to discuss with your therapist next time. It can also help to externalize the feeling and give it less power. You don’t have to write a lot, just enough to jog your memory should you need it later. https://www.cbtandemdr-cambridge.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/EMDR-TICES.pdf