Beyond Trauma – A Group for Survivors of Sexual Abuse

At the end of 2012 a group of women who had experienced rape/sexual abuse and were on the PARCS waiting list for therapy were invited to join a ‘pre-therapy’ group. The group was based on a Gestalt model of therapy and was devised and written by the Metanoia Institute in collaboration with PARCS. The10 week pilot group was facilitated by 2 experienced Gestalt Psychotherapists.

The group work model was based upon research and PARCS experience of working with survivors of sexual abuse. It aimed to build a safe and supportive group space where survivors would have opportunities to develop the skills and understanding necessary to support the first steps in the journey of recovery, alongside women who had been through similar experiences.

Dr Nina Burrowes evaluated the group and produced a research report for PARCS. This in turn enabled PARCS to develop its group work approach based upon Nina’s findings. The group is now a part of a number of services PARCS provides to survivors and their families.

The Courage to Be Me

Nina has also created a graphic novel which was inspired by the women she met (although not their actual stories) as part of the research project. Dr Burrowes uses cartoons in her work because she feels they are the perfect medium for communicating about difficult topics ‘I think cartoons are fantastic. They help you communicate simply and with humility and yet they can also be very moving. I enjoy the challenge of taking a very complicated and difficult topic and simplifying it through cartoons’. The novel is called the ‘Courage to Be Me’.

Dr Nina Burrowes undertook a piece of research regarding the impact of this way of working and her full research report can be read by clicking here.