Survivor Tree by Christy Croft is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
In 2011, I led my first support group for survivors of sexual violence. It was a topical, multi-week group on reconnecting with intimacy and sexuality after abuse or assault. Over the course of eight weeks, survivors of child sexual abuse, commercial sexual exploitation of children, and sexual assault shared their stories, and two themes emerged.
First, isolation and loneliness seem like universal fears and concerns for most of the survivors I’ve worked with (and this extends beyond the handful of survivors in that one group). Can anyone relate to what I’m feeling? Am I weird or wrong for being bothered or afraid? Is it okay that I’m not okay sometimes, and will other people accept me the way I am?
Second, these survivors were some of the most beautiful, courageous, compassionate, insightful people I know. Many of them expressed finding themselves to be broken, ugly, or damaged. I saw beauty and strength in their words, and power in their vulnerability.
Survivor Tree is a guided, journey-style visualization I created for our next-to-last session, to remind them (us?) that they (we?) are not alone, and that each one of us possesses beauty, strength, and power, even in our struggles or vulnerability. On the last week of group, one of the attendees shared that it had been one of the most powerful reflections of the group for her, and shared with me a picture torn out of her wall calendar, of a beautiful, colorful tree. Beside the tree is a quote: “Blessed are the seeds waiting in the darkness for the call of spring.” It hangs on my wall in my office today, almost a decade later.
This is the work, this is the reminder. You are not alone.
This guided visualization is offered here free for personal use for survivors (including those who are advocates or professionals), as well as for use within non-recorded support groups. It may not be recorded, uploaded to any other sites, or redistributed in any way other than by sharing this link.