A Detailed Guide On The 3 Stages Of Victim Recovery

Do you know about the different stages of victim recovery1? The American Psychological Association defines trauma as an emotional response to some terrible events which leads to some kind of loss to the person who has gone through such events.

The events can be rape, physical assault, molestation, psychological abuse, general fear, fear of losing someone, or the personal loss of close ones.

A victim in these situations is referred to a person who has been affected, injured, or hurt by those traumatic events.

Recovering from traumatic experiences takes time but understanding the different stages of victim recovery can aid your healing process.

Sudden flashbacks occur frequently. Negative thoughts, headaches, emotional breakdowns, and crying over nothing are some of the possible symptoms of a traumatic experience2. In some cases, the person can even begin to hallucinate sometimes.

Understanding the different stages of victim recovery can help one prepare to combat such situations.

However, before we move into the article, there are certain facts that need to be addressed.

It has been observed that trauma can destroy the health and mental peace of survivors. The traumatized victim loses his power and ability to be rational. They may feel disturbed. The worst effect that comes after mental trauma is disempowerment and disconnectedness from friends family and others.

The stages of the victim recovery process are driven by the empowerment of the survivors by developing new connections. Recovery can only be found on a relationship basis and can not be carried out solely. No therapy can be successful without being alone.

Therapists who work with traumatized people need a sustained system of support. A therapist often feels emotionally depressed while the stages of victim recovery are in process.

There’s a minor impact on the therapist’s side while dealing with the survivor. It is very important to understand that a traumatic event is neither temporary nor permanent.

Sometimes the recovery takes time, different people take time to recover differently. The only difference is the healing process and how the recovery process goes on.

1. Phases of Trauma Recovery

It is important to acknowledge that trauma and trauma recovery are two different concepts. However, they are somehow related to each other. It is a very crucial part of trauma recovery to understand that we, as a society, as parents and as a doctor should see the trauma recovery as a separate process rather than a concept.

The stages of victim recovery are complicated procedures. Once we have understood that trauma recovery is a process then we should think about its symptoms and how we all can solve this together. Re-establishing safety is the first crucial step in the recovery process.

Initially, one cannot even realize being in a state of trauma or not. Sometimes medical health workers and well-wishers try to gather information about the trauma he/she is facing which may include reliving the past and those traumatic events which could trigger the stress again.

However, it has been done in this way in order to be sure and come out with appropriate medical help.

2. 3 Stages Of Victim Recovery

The stages of victim recovery or overcoming trauma is a lifelong and very struggling experience that requires constant battling within oneself. At the same time, it is disheartening for the people who are associated with victims.

The victims reliving their traumatic events during recovery treatments, not only make them more disturbed but also affect their loved ones too.

There are hard times when the stages of victim recovery torment the individual and lead to isolation and guilt. These feelings are all part of trauma recovery and slowly and steadily it will change into a more positive outlook towards a healthier life.

These phases are victims, survivors, and thrivers. They usually have certain challenges which can sometimes include confusion. By conducting a proper meeting, one can overcome those debilitating traumatic events.

As you prepare to leave, memories and feelings will follow you more than you can control. It is normal. Your care team will discuss with you all the signs you are experiencing including fear-related words. They will provide you with resources to help you cope with these symptoms and help you overcome the trauma.

2.1. Stage 1

The key to overcoming childhood trauma or any trauma is to obtain these stage one goals of personal safety, genuine self-care, and healthy emotional response capacity.

The first stage of treatment is neither about discussing nor processing memories of unwanted or abusive experiences. The process of recovery is very complex therefore measures are taken so that the victim is comfortable enough to move forward with the discussions related to the traumatic event.

However, sometimes, it can become necessary in the first phase to deal with or examine disturbing memories which are disturbing one’s day-to-day routine or life. This is necessary to help manage the memories or to understand reasons why a person is hard on oneself

Measures are taken not to make the stages difficult or create a situation where remembrance and mourning become the only option.

2.2. Stage 2

Stage two focuses on establishing an understanding level that covers safety, stability, and self-regulation. Some people realize that thinking and talking about painful memories do not necessarily constitute a necessary way of reaching their goals. Some people find that memories no longer disrupt their lives and no longer have a real or significant interest in their phase of recovery.

Some people feel unsafe while recalling the abuse, some people may feel an abundance of emotions during this phase. During the initial phases of these stages of victim recovery, it is possible for those who choose or want to concentrate on disturbing memories to use ‘memory processing’ techniques for those who still want to change the outcome.

2.3. Stage 3

The stages of victim recovery focus on recovering and meeting people, doing meaningful acts, and in other areas.

This phase holds a very important aspect in the healing process. Support from loved ones, and maintaining healthy relationships can give the survivors control over their emotional past, and psychological or physical trauma.

2. What Does It Mean to Be Described as a Survivor?

According to the National Crime Victims Law Institutes, a survivor can be defined as someone who endures adversities, moves through those hardships, and perseveres. But the point is how this definition relates to the four stages traumatic survivors 3might experience or the self-healing process as the trauma

A survivor who has been sexually assaulted should never be blamed for the abuse. Victim blaming is often compared to sexual assault. It is equivalent to tormenting his/her mental peace. A victim shall never be accountable for being sexually abducted.

Consider seeking counselling from an experienced therapist. Try to approach the victim but with tenderness and patience. Try to make the victims believe that whatever happened has happened. The patient needs to understand that it is time to forget the abuse although to forget abuse or something traumatic event will take time.

Image source Alex Northey Flickr copyright 2021

Therapy will help to recognize habitual habits, beliefs, and motivations that maintain self-defeating and self-destructive behaviours outside conscious awareness or observation. Mindfulness meditation can also help cultivate awareness and freedom.

This theme should be addressed in the first stage of treatment whenever it poses obstacles to safety, self-care, and controlling emotions and behaviour. This is the central issue that will determine the nature and structure of treatment.

3. Phases of Recovery After Trauma: Victim – Survival Spirit

Believing is something that can take you from nothing to something and can help to achieve desired goals if you believe in something strongly. We always have options to step up the path forward and backwards. Sooner or later you will find the rays of hope. Remember a tunnel can be pitch dark but there is always light at the end.

These are all necessary in our healing process and a very crucial part of the survival spirit and stages of victim recovery. They are important in this journey. Although the stages of victim recovery are long events, recovery is a journey.

It would not come to the people overnight. The stages of victim recovery are a process. All one has to do is keep the spirit up, have patience and have a strong belief.

3.1. Reconnection and Integration as a Stage of Recovery

In these two stages of victim recovery, it is the time for a new beginning or a new sense of self as well as a new future. This task involves reinventing oneself in different aspects. Their loss becomes integral to their life story but it is also not just the stories that define it.

Recovery or the stage of recovery is not defined just by having any thoughts about the traumatic experience or stages but by being able to cope with it in a way so that you’re not controlling your life. A successful solution to the effects of trauma is a powerful testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. Recovery is a process that is individual and will change for everyone. It is important to be gentle to yourself through this healing journey.

3.2. Remembrance and Mourning

This task is focused on processing trauma adding words and emotions to it and making meaning of it. Attending to safety allows the person affected by trauma to move during this phase in a manner that integrates the story of the trauma instead of reacting to it in a fight, flight, or freeze response. It is not meant to repeat or relate trauma.

It is not even intended to tell a story with no emotions attached. This phase involves the important task of exploring and mourning these losses connected with trauma and creating room to grieve and express their emotions.

This phase creates a sense of support, that support which every person who wants to begin a new journey where heath and psychological awareness exist.

3.3. Safety and Stabilization

People who are traumatized tend to feel unsafe in their own bodies and in relationships. Regaining a sense of safety might take days, weeks, or years with seriously traumatized individuals or individuals who have experienced continued/chronic abuse.

Figuring out which areas of life need to be stabilized and how that will be achieved can help in achieving the ways to recover. This can also be called a coping process4 where a person finds hope.

For example, feeling emotionally overwhelmed is like shaking a bowl of soda. The easiest way to relieve the pressure is to open and close the cap slowly but carefully and intentionally in order to prevent an explosion.

4. Finding Hope

Recovery is probably the aim after the trauma; one wants to return to life before anything worse could begin. One could feel blown up in millions and still wish to feel one whole again.

A survivor may find their mind foggy or feeling numb in stages of victim recovery. A survivor feels isolated. These are also a part of the stages of victim recovery. One can experience guilt or confusion and become awkward around people.

mental health
image source Sinn Fein, Flickr copyright 2021

Several physical symptoms are due to unstable emotional processes5. A patient may suffer from life-long psychological trauma and some patients recover physically for a period.

The traumatization may be even worse now when a patient has to reportedly struggle with reliving the experience or desperately wants to pretend that it wasn’t happening. One may even feel like reliving the traumatic events again.

Therapies, counsellors, and support groups to help in coping with the effects of trauma. It is important to understand the affected that it is okay not to be okay. Your wounds need attention.

One can even express their feelings through journaling, drawing, blogging or talking and interacting with individuals or team members with whom they are comfortable. Try to mingle with new people and share your experiences. Your recovery journey can be a source of motivation for someone else.

Have patience with yourself. Do not be hard on yourself. Know that you are not alone. Show yourself some love and pamper yourself with anything special such as spa visits or yoga, binge-watching a favourite show, or a long weekend out. Relaxing is very important.

family support
Image source spike stitch Flickr copyright 2021

Traumatic victims often try to change the situation that had occurred to them and therefore react drastically to even simple situations. In the recovery process, survivors learn to control their actions, and anger and choose their behaviours that can lead to a happier future.

Small steps in the stages of victim recovery have a great impact. Small tasks like tidying up parks, carrying a sick neighbour’s groceries, and even feeding pets matter too.

The experiences of those who once were the victims can help others. There are 24-hour helplines too. These 24-hour helplines help the patient to talk. These helplines are also an integral part of the stages of victim recovery.

The sense of someone being there with them at that point in time when they are left alone provides a strong essence in the stages of victim recovery.

Nobody should have forced themselves too much if they were not able to. If one cannot do a particular thing it is ok. Give it some time but don’t push yourself more than you already can.

Also, do not feel that you are a loser. You have survived a traumatic experience in your life. You are already a winner.

5. Conclusion

It is very important to understand the fact that trauma recovery whether for an adult or children is a process that needs patience and time.

The stages of victim recovery need some free space where adults or children affected by such events can freely discuss the event.

Every person is different from others and so would react to the trauma differently. It may take time to open up or call for help. One can not show anger towards the patient for not cooperating or cannot be insensitive towards them during the stages of victim recovery.

One should understand that trauma is a fact of life however it does not have to be a life sentence forever. The world still hasn’t come to an end. There is so much more and happiness yet to come.

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  1. McGuigan, Karen, and Geraldine Horigan. “The Victim Recovery Journey.” ↩︎
  2. Davidson, Jonathan, and Rebecca Smith. “Traumatic experiences in psychiatric outpatients.” Journal of traumatic stress 3 (1990): 459-475. ↩︎
  3. Shalev, Arieh Y. “Treating survivors in the acute aftermath of traumatic events.” Lecture at the 19th annual meeting of ISTSS. 2003. ↩︎
  4. Taylor, Shelley E., and Annette L. Stanton. “Coping resources, coping processes, and mental health.” Annu. Rev. Clin. Psychol. 3 (2007): 377-401. ↩︎
  5. Weiner, Bernard, Dan Russell, and David Lerman. “The cognition–emotion process in achievement-related contexts.” Journal of Personality and Social psychology 37.7 (1979): 1211. ↩︎

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