In trauma-focused interventions, therapists focus on saying the words that describe the traumatic event. Words that often cause a feeling of discomfort, such as sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, and shooting. Why do we insist on saying these words that conjure up such horrific images? Because words have power- the power to hurt, but also the power to heal.
Using the words that describe the traumatic event can be empowering for the client. Putting a name to horrific and elusive feeling can allow a client to gain a sense of understanding and control over her experience. Then the person can begin to heal, once he names what is haunting him. Changing the word due to feeling uncomfortable can invalidate and minimize the person’s experience of the traumatic event. Skirting around the reality of what happened enable the person to avoid healing from it. Calling it for what it is shines a light on it, takes away its control, and begins to allow the client to feel slightly more empowered.
By using the correct words to describe the event, the power of the event is taken away. When we choose to leave the event in the shadows and use euphemisms, our feelings are forced to fester in the darkness. The euphemisms do not take away from the horrific event that happened, nor does it change how the person is feeling that experienced it. If we soften the way we talk about something horrific that has happened, we consequently soften the gravity of the experience as well. When the gravity of a situation doesn’t match the depth of one’s feelings, survivors of traumatic events are left feeling confused and invalidated. Providing similarly-weighted words to match the magnitude of one’s feelings provides that person with the tools to navigate such a traumatic experience.
If we allow the words of a situation to remain in the dark, they fester; but, if we shine a light on them, their power begins to shrink. Say the words.
Thank you for taking time to read this blog written by Hannah Rowell. For more information on healing contact our office.