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  • Kristin Miller, PhD, Psychologist

Burning Through the Barriers

Burned trees in Northern California

The fires in Northern California burned through my community taking many homes and much of our green space. These devastating infernos left us standing naked and in great need of emotional support and comfort.

Effects on Sexual Abuse Survivors

The loss of life and property associated with these fires has had huge painful effects for sexual abuse survivors. Many have seen their homes destroyed and experienced other tragic losses. They have no choice but to reach out for physical and emotional support.

One positive result from this otherwise dark tragedy: the fire has burned through our strong protective beliefs. Some of these protective beliefs include:

  • Don’t trust anyone.

  • Do everything yourself.

  • Don’t let anyone know what is happening on the inside.

  • It is unsafe to reach out for support.

  • Keep to yourself.

The Need for Support in the Face of Disaster

We have no choice but to reach out for support, because the need for relief, connection, and healing is so great. No one can recover alone, whether that recovery is from sexual abuse or a fire. We need each other.

And, that is what we have done in our Northern California community. The barriers are burned through and my community is supporting each other.

I am amazed with the courage as the sexual abuse survivors I serve move out into the community, share their pain and need, join recovery groups, and learn how to receive support. This is met with love and support as groups of therapists and community leaders burn through old barriers that kept them stuck in their own belief systems about trauma and traditional modes of service delivery confined to diagnosis and agency policies.

Acting to Break Through Our Own Barriers

Let’s not wait for fire to burn through our barriers. What can we do instead?

  • Find people and groups you can trust.

  • Build a support system.

  • Acknowledge your pain inside and out.

  • Reach out and find safe support.

  • Break the agreement with yourself that safety = isolation and find safety and comfort with others.

Let’s do it now before a fire in your community burns through the barriers that keep you isolated and alone in your pain. There is no need to wait.

We can heal together.

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