I asked my dear friend Brandi to write something for my blog for SAAM. I’m so glad I did because what she wrote was timely and beautiful.
April is sexual assault awareness month, which may be hard to wrap our minds around during a time of global pandemic. As anything other than COVID-19, seems to take a back seat. I appreciate the open perspective of seeing and bringing awareness to other things that are affecting us during the pandemic, allowing people to feel seen as they make it through multiple challenges. I would like to take a moment to highlight something I have been noticing while continuing to provide trauma-informed therapy during COVID-19 pandemic. What we say and expect of ourselves, we end up saying and expecting of others.
There is a term, “collective grief,” which we are all experiencing as we grieve the losses that have come with this new life of physical distancing. This also applies to those who are sexual assault survivors. A collective grief of those who know what it is like to lose a sense of safety, protection from those we thought would protect us and even our ability to protect ourselves. We grieve many things on the road to healing after abuse. We even lose people who we thought would be there for us, which compounds our sense of loss.
Here is what I know from working in both trauma and grief: we all grieve differently. We have our own unique story. We process the loss(es) differently; we relate to the loss(es) differently and we all have different speeds through which we begin to experience joy again after loss(es) and trauma. Grief doesn’t “end,” your relationship to it changes. There is no right or wrong way to do this. And if we believe there is no “right way” to grieve , then we must notice how we speak to ourselves, and what we expect from ourselves during this global pandemic and our collective.
Brandi Nichols, MA
Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist AMFT109783
Dr. Don Welch, PH.D, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist LMFT50129