Degree Name

MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations

First Advisor

Ken Williams


Judith Herman’s conceptual framework, with its three stages of recovery from trauma, is a resource for healing from sexual violence (Herman, 1997, p. 3). Research was undertaken to determine whether Herman’s Stages of Recovery apply to the experience of African American female survivors with respect to their healing from sexual violence.

Data questionnaires listing strategies potentially helpful to survivors in their healing and triumphing over sexual violence were administered to eight self-identified African American female survivors of sexual violence by a male as well as to six professionals experienced with African American women, sexual violence, and healing. Questions also elicited further information about what survivors and professionals have found most effective in assisting Black women in their healing from sexual violence.

Analysis of data supports a conclusion that both survivors and professionals found most helpful Remembrance and Mourning, Herman’s second stage of recovery, during which survivors confront the reality of the attack, allow themselves to feel grief, anger and other emotions, and make use of counseling and sharing of testimony. Instrumental in the healing of these survivors were many aspects of spirituality: the bible, church, poetry reading and writing, meditation, other inspirational readings, prayer, and listening to self-love music. The study results highlight the importance of 1) knowledge of the history of sexual violence within the African American community and 2) awareness of the socio-economic and financial impediments that restrict awareness and use of counseling and other resources for healing within the African American community.