Conclusion

Thema Bryant-Davis

Sexual violence is pervasive across demographic lines and can have long-term psychological, social, physical, economical, and spiritual consequences. The contributors have provided a wide range of potential pathways to recovery and empowerment. These pathways cover a range of issues that survivors of sexual violence are often left to confront, including the survivor's thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and relationships. Included in the described recovery pathways are those that focus on challenging unhealthy thinking, uncovering unconscious thoughts, learning new coping strategies, developing positive spirituality, building helpful relationships, regulating a range of emotions, caring for one's body, and expressing the unspoken experiences. These recovery processes have empowered numerous survivors to move from victim to survivor and even from survivor to thriver.

It is important for therapists, survivors, and their support persons to gain a more inclusive view of the possibilities that may enhance the recovery process. While this focus on intervention is highly important, it is also critical for the reader to remember the necessity of prevention. There is a need to prevent first-time violations and also to prevent the repeated violations that survivors often experience across the life span. In other words, although there are pathways to recovery, this does not eliminate the need for the eradication of sexual violence. The larger aim is to empower survivors such that their risk for future violation is reduced and to intercede such that potential perpetrators do not engage in violent and abusive behaviors.

I would like to mention the limitations of this text. There are actually numerous healing pathways and, due to space constraints, I could not include chapters on all of them. There are three that I believe warrant your attention and consideration that are not included in this text: psychophar-macology, wraparound services, and expressive arts therapies. Medication has been an integral part of the recovery process for many survivors and is one pathway that survivors should be open to considering when needed and under the care of a psychiatrist or primary care physician. For those who make use of psychotropic medications, I would recommend their use in conjunction with therapy, not as a replacement for therapy. The second important approach is the use of wraparound services. This is especially beneficial for survivors of human trafficking and intimate partner violence. In addition to counseling, one may be in need of residential, vocational, legal, medical, and educational services. It is very difficult to get to a place of empowerment when one's basic needs are unmet. Getting assistance with these needs while in a therapeutic environment is a core component of recovery for many survivors. Finally, while this text includes the use of expressive writing and yoga, there are a number of expressive arts therapies that survivors should consider. These include, but are not limited to, poetry therapy, drama therapy, dance therapy, art therapy, and music therapy. If you do not find the pathway that works for you in this text, it doesn't mean that there is not a pathway for you. Continue to research and engage in different processes until you find one that is helpful for you.

Survivors have also healed through activism and social justice work. There are survivors who find empowerment in part by working to combat sexual violence. These survivors may work as rape crisis counselors, neighborhood watch volunteers, therapists, advocates, police officers, educators, or engaged parents. It is important to recognize that while social justice is laudable work, it is not a substitute for doing one's personal work. After one has worked through their personal experience (possibly through one of the pathways described in this book), a next step to consider may be working to eradicate sexual violence in its various forms. This is one example of post-traumatic growth. The trauma or violation does not make us become better people, but the choices we make in our recovery can help us to grow and facilitate growth in the communities around us.

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