Posttraumatic stress disorder has been conceptualized as a failure of communication. This failure results from the effects of dissociation during trauma, the difficulty of expressing embodied experiences, and victim blaming in American rape culture which discourages survivors of sexual abuse to disclose their stories. The inability of survivors to create a trauma narrative results in separation from themselves, others, and reality, which further inhibits communication. The present discussion aimed to explore the utility of creative writing in overcoming the communication failure of trauma and reconnecting survivors to themselves, others, and reality. A review of the literature related to sexual abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder, and writing therapies was followed by a self-reflective example of confessional poetry related to sexual trauma. Personal experience was chosen due to lack of representation of women’s embodied experiences in the literature. The poetry collection was composed of poems written during exposure to sexual abuse and poems written after the trauma had ended. The format was designed to emulate the experience of time as punctuated while still maintaining fluidity, reflective of working and reworking identity. The conclusion of this creative project included a reflection from the artist about the process of creating her trauma narrative and how creative writing enhanced her coping with posttraumatic stress disorder.
Semester/Year of Award
Lisa B. Day
English and Theatre
Open Access Thesis
Smith, Shelby J., "You Have a Body to Share" (2015). Honors Theses. 284.