Cover image for The courage to heal workbook : for adult survivors of child sexual abuse
The courage to heal workbook : for adult survivors of child sexual abuse
Davis, Laura.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Harper & Row, 1990.
Physical Description:
xv, 460 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ71 .D245 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In this groundbreaking companion to The Courage to Heal, Laura Davis offers an inspiring, in-depth workbook that speaks to all women and men healing from the effects of child sexual abuse. The combination of checklists, writing and art Projects, open-ended questions and activities expertly guides the survivor through the healing process.

Survival Skills--Teaches survivors to create a safe, supportive environment, ask for help, deal with crisis periods, and choose therapy. Aspects Of Healing--Focuses on the healing process: gaining a capacity for hope, breaking silence, letting go of shame, turning anger into action, planning a confrontation, preparing for family contact, and affirming personal progress. Guidelines For Healing Sexually--Redefines the concept of "safe sex" and establishes healthy ground rules for sexual contact.

Author Notes

Laura Davis is a nationally recognized expert on healing from child sexual abuse. She is the co-author of The Courage to Heal, Beginning to Heal, and Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, as well as the author of Allies in Healing. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA.



The Courage to Heal Workbook A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Chapter One About The Exercises In This Book As you begin the workbook, you'll find that most of the chapters contain both cognitive and creative exercises. Cognitive exercises ask you to think, brainstorm ideas, complete sentences, answer questions, set goals, and make assessments. The creative ones use writing and art to explore your inner thoughts and feelings. "Things to Think About" offers questions to help you absorb and expand on the key concepts of each section, to be answered alone or used as the basis for group discussion. And many of the chapters include "Activities" that give you the opportunity to do things: make collages, design rituals, work with a partner. Finally, each chapter closes with a summary section called "Reflections," which includes a set of questions to help you assess your feelings, goals, and needs as you complete the chapter. Feel free to pick and choose among the exercises. Although each chapter follows a certain progression, there may be times when a particular exercise doesn't fit your needs. Maybe it calls for a lot of thinking, and you're having too many feelings to think clearly. Skip that exercise and come back to it later. Try a creative exercise or activity that's more geared to the expression of feelings. As you move through the workbook, there may be moments when you feel inadequate, confused, or unable to proceed. There may be ideas that are new to you or that aren't explained adequately. That means there's a flaw in the design of the book, not in you. At other times you may find that your particular set of circumstances or feelings aren't being named or acknowledged. That's not because you don't belong; it's because of an oversight on my part. Many of the exercises ask you to fill in blanks or answer questions, and they often begin with examples. These are intended to stimulate your own thinking and to demonstrate the way the exercise works. If the particular example given speaks to your experience, feel free to copy it down and include it as one of your answers. On the other hand, if the specifics of a particular exercise don't pertain to you, change them. If the sample question asks about your mother but you were raised by your grandmother, substitute your grandmother's name. If you were battered but not sexually abused, adapt the material to fit your experience. In workshop settings, survivors often want to know if they're doing the exercises the "right" way. There is no right or wrong way to do these exercises . They are for you. Feel free to alter them to fit your needs. Writing As A Healing Tool I've always used writing as a way to express myself and get in touch with my feelings, so it was natural for me to turn to writing when I began to recover memories of having been sexually abused. I wrote to quell the feelings, to deal with the panic, to express my feelings, to find answers. Writing opened up realms of information I couldn't reach with my conscious mind. It was a way to talk about what had happened to me. There was something about putting the words on paper that made me really believe they were true. In the early stages of healing, when I despaired that I wasn't getting anywhere, that all this therapy and introspection and work on myself was a cruel joke, writing was a way for me to chart my course, to mark my progress. I could go back and read my journals and see that things really had changed. And I could make commitments through my writing: "I will not give in. I will say no to sex I don't want. I won't let myself be abused anymore." Writing was a tremendous relief, and at many points my lifeline. When Ellen Bass and I agreed to collaborate on The Courage to Heal , it was a perfect fit. Ellen had pioneered the use of writing in her I Never Told Anyone workshops with survivors, and had developed a series of writing exercises that were unique and powerful. She wanted to share those exercises, and they became an integral part of The Courage to Heal . The Workbook builds on many of the writing suggestions, originally made in The Courage to Heal . Many of the exercises use the same technique introduced in the first book -- freewriting, or stream-of-consciousness writing. Freewriting helps you to get in touch with buried feelings and memories. It helps you to get past your censors. This kind of writing can bring up strong emotions, and it's important that you build in some protection. Set a timer each time you sit down to write. That way you have a specific time frame, with a set beginning and end. (Other suggestions for creating safety can be found in "The Five Building Blocks of Safety" on page 2 1.) You can, also experiment with the way you write. You might want to try writing with your opposite hand. The childlike writing that results can help put you in touch with childhood feelings. I remember watching one woman do this in a workshop. After a few moments of furious scribbling, she shifted her position, grasping the pen in her fist with the point down, much as a young child would do. Although there's ample room for writing in the workbook, you may prefer using crayons or markers on big sheets of newsprint or some double lined paper (like the kind you learned to write on). If it's too hard for you to write by hand, you can use a typewriter, a computer, or a tape recorder. Sharing Your Words In The Courage to Heal we emphasized the power of sharing your writing out loud. Frequently survivors write without any visible expression of emotion, but as soon as you read what you've written, feelings surface... The Courage to Heal Workbook A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse . Copyright © by Laura Davis. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Courage to Heal Workbook: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Laura Davis, Laur Davis All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. x
Dedicationsp. xii
Special Pagesp. xiv
Introductionp. 1
About Language
Where Am I Right Now?
What It Will Feel Like to Use This Book
About the Exercises in this Bookp. 9
Writing as a Healing Tool
About Freewriting
Art as a Healing Tool
About Making Collages
Part 1 Survival Skills for Healingp. 15
Creating Safetyp. 19
The Five Building Blocks of Safety
Create Ground Rules
Build a Container
Find a Safe Spot
Establish Your Privacy
Establish a Protective Ritual
Building Your Support Systemp. 35
Creating a Support System
Helps and Hindrances to Healing
Therapists and Therapy
Dealing With Crisisp. 64
When I'm Lost and Scared
Phone List for Hard Times
When I Start to Panic
Things I Can Do When I'm Overwhelmed
Dealing with Suicidal Feelings
My Suicide Prevention Plan
The Emergency Stage
Simplify Your Life
Ask for Help
Create a Light at the End of the Tunnel
Nurturing Yourselfp. 89
Learning to Nurture Yourself
Marking the Wayp. 98
Marking the Way: A Writing Exercise
What Have I Already Accomplished?
Celebrating Your Accomplishments
Part 2 Taking Stockp. 111
Where did I Come From?
When I Was Growing Up
Name the Abuser
The Effects: How did it Change My Life?p. 123
Assessing the Damage
Identifying My Strengths
Activity: Picturing the Effects
Putting the Abuse in Perspective
Coping: How did I Survive?p. 144
Identifying Coping Mechanisms
Forgiving Yourself
The Pros and Cons of Coping Behaviors
Developing Healthier Ways of Coping
Part 3 Aspects of Healingp. 165
The Decision to Healp. 169
Preparing for Change
Facing an Uncertain Future
About Courage
Activity: Designing a Warrior Mask
Expanding Your Capacity for Hope
Putting Hope Aside: A Writing Exercise
My Hopes Today
Making Hopes Come True
Rememberingp. 204
What Is a Memory?
Piecing Together the Puzzle
If You Don't Remember
What Am I Afraid Of?
Activity: Picturing
Believing it Happenedp. 224
I Don't Want to Believe It
Research Your Childhood
Breaking Silencep. 234
Why Tell?
Simple Telling or Confrontation?
Childhood Lessons: Silence
If You Told
A Few Choice Words on Telling the Truth
Guidelines for Telling
Understanding that it Wasn't Your Faultp. 256
Letting Go of Shame
Identifying Hidden Shame
Replacing Shame with Reality
Observing Children
Evidence of Childhood
The Child Within
Activity: Picturing the Child Within
Letter to an Abused Child: A Writing Exercise
Learning to Trust Yourselfp. 274
Being Present
Internalized Messages
The Inner Voice
Learning to Say No
Saying No: A Writing Exercise
Grieving and Mourningp. 302
Naming Your Losses: A Writing Exercise
Activity: Creating a Grieving Ritual
Angerp. 315
Anger Inventory
Fear of Anger
Letters to an Abuser: A Pair of Writing Exercises
Anger into Action
Activity: The Banner Project
Confrontationsp. 340
What Have I Done Already?
Should I Confront?
Vanquishing Secret Hopes
Making a Confrontation Plan
After the Confrontation
The Other Eulogy: A Writing Exercise
Dealing with Your Family Nowp. 367
What Is a Family?
Evaluating My Family of Origin
Redefining Family
Looking at Individual Relationships
Setting the Ground Rules
Planning for Family Contact
Developing Realistic Expectations
Giving Up the Fantasy: A Writing Exercise
Letting Go: An Activity
Enjoying Your New Family: A Writing Exercise
Resolution and Moving onp. 415
How Far Have I Come? A Writing Exercise
Why Has It Been Worth It?
Tooting Your Own Horn
Things I Like About Myself
Things I've Dreamed of Doing and Becoming
Activity: Creating a Celebration Ritual
Appendix Guidelines for Healing Sexuallyp. 428
For Whom Am I Doing This?
What Is Sex?
What Is Sex? (Part II)
Sexual Ground Rules
Safe Sex Guidelines
Activity: Massaging Hands
Sexual Hopes: A Writing Exercise
Resourcesp. 453
Healing Books