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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Into the fire : using therapeutic enactment to address early traumatic memories of childhood sexual abuse Hirakata, Pam


While traditional forms of therapy focus heavily on a survivor's ability to tell his or her story, the very nature of traumatic memory can present a challenge since survivors of trauma often struggle to find the verbal language to describe the terrifying events that have occurred. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse can be left in a state of re-experiencing the past as they face the overwhelming task of trying to find words for something that is often wordless. Researchers have identified the need for a "bridge" between the non-verbal and the verbal however, studies in this area are lacking. The purpose of this research is to examine the lived experience of using therapeutic enactment as a supplementary tool to address the fragmented and wordless memories of childhood sexual abuse. Through an ethnographic research design, four women have participated in this study. These women share with us their stories and take us on a journey through their experience of using therapeutic enactment to address memories of their abuse. From these stories, four dominant themes emerged. These themes - re-connection, voice, empowerment, and corrective re-experiencing - appear in varying degrees and indicate an overall positive and reparative experience.

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