Empowerment vs Disempowerment

Narratives for survivors and for understanding survivors. 

Empowering narratives – the role they play and how important they are for survivors.

I want to talk today about empowerment and disempowerment and the role it plays for survivors of extreme and traumatic events in childhood.

Empowerment is a positive state of mind. Disempowerment is the opposite. Disempowerment arises from extreme and traumatic events in which you had no control. For survivors of extreme and traumatic childhood events – a state of disempowerment is at the core of their experiences.

Those experiences – being abusive – were essentially a transference ( a mega-load, if you like) of abusive behaviour dropped on the child from great height, and with full force. The child having no real emotional equipment to understand the traumas will often sublimate trauma by absorbing it.

Abuse is an emotional experience – it is negative, unmanageable, painful – it creates a burden so heavy, any sense of childlike playful response is burdened and disempowered.

Disempowerment is a negative emotional state that enables survivors of extreme traumas to live in the world. It allows them to exist, like a wounded animal dragging itself around looking for means and ways to heal those scars left by the abusive adult.

In order for survivors to heal these scars – empowerment must happen. This can happen through many ways. But, essential to this is the narrative of empowerment that comes from a survivor sharing, part, portion or whole of their traumatic experiences.

Disempowerment fosters shame. Shame is a result of abuse that crushes a child’s soul.

The act of listening and sympathetic response of I am glad you told me that doesn’t solve everything for the survivor. It simply enables empowerment to grow and disempowerment to diminish.

Listen. Sympathise. Learn. Grow.

Stella Raven
Survivor. Writer. Therapist in Training. Educator for Healing.


Published by Stella McHugh

Survivor of so many things that happens to women and girls.

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