With the Phoenix Rising: Lessons from Ten Resilient Women Who Overcame the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse

With the Phoenix Rising: Lessons from Ten Resilient Women Who Overcame the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse

With the Phoenix Rising: Lessons from Ten Resilient Women Who Overcame the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse

With the Phoenix Rising: Lessons from Ten Resilient Women Who Overcame the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Synopsis

The devastating effects of childhood sexual abuse have been widely chronicled, validating the difficulty with which many survivors struggle. Often overlooked are the millions of women who have overcome early trauma to lead successful, happy lives. Why do these women-whom we might otherwise have expected to fail-have such tremAndous strength and resilience? This question is at the heart of With the Phoenix Rising as it paints a moving and optimistic portrait of ten women who have overcome the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and shows how their resilient success can be encouraged in others who have suffered similar traumas.

Excerpt

The phoenix in our title is a beautiful bird described in Egyptian mythology that lived for five hundred years, was consumed in fire, and then rose anew from the ashes. Resilient survivors of serious childhood sexual abuse have been, in important ways, consumed by the destructive power of the horrors visited upon them and then have reconstructed themselves out of the ashes. This book grew out of our interest in learning more about how people do that—about what allows children and adults to do well in the world in spite of their horrific life experiences. As psychologists, we are often asked to focus on what is wrong with someone and how that came to be. Yet sometimes people show enormous strength when we might have expected them to fail. How does this happen? If we can understand something about how it happens and what contributes to that process, perhaps we can help those who are less fortunate by engendering the same processes in them.

Doing well in the face of difficult life circumstances is called resiliency. Some people believe that resiliency is based primarily on genetic factors such as intelligence, temperament, or strength of character. Others believe it is more affected by factors in the environment such as secure parental relationships, positive school experiences, and healthy peer relationships. Most researchers assume that resiliency is composed of some complicated combination of factors.

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