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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
46 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY we all came forward together in a formal public disclosure process facilitated by a professional mediator. The monastery hired the mediator to help them address the revelations with which they were confronted. In preparing for the disclosure, it gradually became clear that in order to protect the anonymity of the women who did not wish to be named, a category was needed to refer to them. What are we? I wondered, scrolling through the literature on sex- ual misconduct. Victims? The word conjured up bruised upper arms, restraining orders, and children. Survivors? Destiny’s Child lyrics lapped at the edges of my consciousness. Eventually, I happened on a schema describing stages of recovery from sexual assault that sounded hauntingly familiar. The stages were called victim, survivor, and thriver. The phase of victim comes early in the recovery process. Initially, many victims are unaware they are caught in an abusive relation- ship. Lack of awareness may go on for a long time, accompanied by growing feelings of aversion, extreme anxiety, and self-recrimination. In the victim phase, these feelings gradually take hold of the body and mind, resulting in a sense of powerlessness, loss of agency, invis- ibility, and shame. If the relationship collapses, the victim feels a paralyzing sense of loss and grief but may be reticent to talk about what has happened. The survivor phase comes midway through the recovery process. In this phase, the person begins to recognize the complexity of what happened and the possibility that the teacher bears some responsibil- ity. In time, there is a return of a sense of autonomy and agency. In this phase, the survivor begins to want to process their experience verbally and may seek support from a therapist or close friends. The individual may feel anger at the perpetrator for the first time and may also harbor profound regrets. The third, or thriver, phase comes toward the end of the recovery process. In this phase, the person is able to look back on their his- tory without intense emotional activation. It becomes possible to move beyond grief and regret to a sense of appreciation for the dif- ficult experience as a formative process. In the phase of thriver, the person has essentially healed and moved on. While survivors may opposite | Silk, 2015