This topic is probably one of the hardest topics to tackle. Not just in sharing with the public something that can be misunderstood so easily, but it is also one of the hardest parts for each woman as she works through her program at Amirah.
Spiritual Trauma Recovery - what on earth does that mean?
Whenever I share in public about the whole-person approach that we have at Amirah and get to the spiritual part, I find two reactions are pretty common to this: either I am too Christian or I am not Christian enough. So, I'm going to ask for some grace here in this space, and hopefully each person that reads this will see the heart of our faith.
There is a term out there called moral injury. This is when damage is done to one’s conscience when that person perpetrates, witnesses, or fails to prevent acts that transgress their own moral and ethical values or codes of conduct. The reverse is also true in having the injury done to you, breaking with your moral and ethical values. The term is used primarily with veterans, as they come back from war with PTSD, but then also have deep guilt, shame, and inner conflict (i.e. moral injury).
Complex trauma in addition to being trauma upon trauma, is when PTSD meets moral injury. The psychological effects (panic attacks, physiological changes) cross with the spiritual effects, and often times this can lead to depression, a cycle of shame and fear, and at times suicidal thoughts.
This is where Spiritual Trauma Recovery comes in. The prime response to the moral injury that a survivor has suffered is shame, and even guilt (as she wrestles with the choices that she made). If we do not help her to address this, then we have not helped her heal as a whole person, but have left a huge stone unturned, that if left unturned, can become deadly.
While every woman that comes to us is free to explore this Spiritual Recovery in the faith that she chooses, our goal for every woman is that they would come to understand forgiveness. Not just the ability to forgive others, but that she would forgive herself and realize that God has as well.
This is an incredibly powerful part of their journey of liberation. Shame has a way of digging in to one's soul, setting up camp, and making itself at home. The cycle of shame, as I understand it, takes a supernatural helper to break. This cycle is fully broken when one comes not only to understand what forgiveness is, but to actually believe that this exists and is for me. That a Creator loves me, that a Savior died for me, that He never left me and will never leave me, that while I don't feel like I deserve this love, it is given anyways - freely and lavishly.
It's the most important 12-inches that someone can travel, the 12 inches from your head to your heart. Not just to cognitively understand that forgiveness exists, but to believe it in your heart and soul - I am forgiven.
That statement has the power to break the cycle of shame, and allows each woman to become something new: the woman that she was created to be, not the slave she was forced to be.
This post is a part of a series on The Goals of Whole-Person Care Recovery.