My Story, My Terms: A Storytelling Workshop for Survivors

Blog / January 15, 2020

Women’s Justice NOW is launching a transformative storytelling workshop, a safe space for survivors to reframe and reclaim their stories and experiences in the #MeToo era. This three-part, trauma-informed workshop will offer an opportunity for female-identifying participants to reflect, write, share, and humanize their experiences as survivors of sexual assault. With a focus on writing, storytelling, and suggested guidelines for navigating the process of sharing your story with others, “My Story, My Terms” is designed to support individuals who seek to use their writing and voice as a tool for personal, political, or social change.

 

About the workshop sessions

Session One: The Power and Science of Storytelling

  • Participants will learn that storytelling is a skill that can be developed and used as a tool for a powerful effect and will receive an overview about purposeful story development and how it can contribute to inclusion and connection, self-confidence, healing, and bring about social and political change. 
  • Participants will acquire skills in the techniques of storytelling and how to apply it for different modes of communication and will take a deep dive into interactive writing exercises. 
  • Participants will be given an extended overview of the experience of trauma and learn the guiding principles of trauma recovery, which will include the restoration of safety and opportunities to reclaim power and share their story. 

Session Two: Understanding the Stages of Writing, Healing, and Compassionate Reframing

  • Participants will be taught skills to reprocess their experience from a safe place, enabling them to experience a type of mastery and control over the trauma, and begin to overcome any feelings of helplessness and powerlessness.  
  • Participants will become expert in Marinella’s five stages of writing and healing and apply the stages to their story. These stages can lead to story transformation. 
  • With guidance from facilitators, participants will be able to confront their trauma at a suitable, self-directed speed, letting personal meanings and solutions develop and flourish in their writing of their own story on their own terms.  

Session Three:  Using the Power of Your Resilient Voice to Bring Your Own Words to Life

  • Participants will give their own perspective to their experience and its relation to the rest of their life by opening up about the elements of the trauma most important to them, and constructing their own narrative of what occurred in a way that allows them to cognitively confront, process, and heal from the pain.  
  • Participants will discover new ways to sustain resilience, viewing it as a muscle they can build, and that both sharing their own narrative of what happened and listening to those of others are at the heart of working out the resiliency muscle. 
  • Each participant will be given an opportunity to tell their story to the group.  When we tell our stories to others who are actively engaged and listening, our neurons in our brains fire up together and forge deep bonds. This sense that we matter, are connected to others and moving through tough times in our lives as part of a narrative larger than our own is linked to resilience. 
  • In closing, the group will celebrate their work and their journey in a celebratory ceremony including food, music, sharing, and interactive activities.

Meet our facilitators:

Claire T. McCue

Claire T. McCue is a trauma-informed forensic social worker and doctoral candidate at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has served as an Adjunct Professor at the Silberman Graduate School of Social Work at Hunter College for eight years where she taught Human Behavior in the Social Environment and mentored Graduate Students entering the field as trauma specialists. Additionally, Claire taught social work and sociology classes with an emphasis on understanding the impact of human-induced violence on individuals at the City University of New York Graduate Center, College of Staten Island, and Wagner College. During her 20+ year career in social work, Claire has worked in direct care, supervisory, and training capacities at social service and legal service organizations, serving survivors of gender-based violence and trauma in New York City. She developed a specialization in providing psychodynamically-oriented treatment for survivors of incest, sexual and physical abuse, and family violence.

Roxanna ‘Roxy’ Azari

Roxanna ‘Roxy’ Azari is an Iranian-American spoken word poet, performer, storyteller, and educator. She serves as an Adjunct Lecturer for the Women's and Gender Department at Hunter College and a Storytelling Coach for Story2. Holding a BA in English Literature: Creative Writing and Women’s Studies from Wheaton College (MA) and an MSc in Gender, Development and Globalization from the London School of Economics, Azari infuses her academic background with her visions of challenging social, political, and economic inequalities. As a former Thomas J. Watson Fellowship recipient, Azari created and facilitated writing and performance workshops with young women in the Middle East, Europe, North Africa, and South-East Asia. Azari combines her passion of art and activism by leading nation-wide performances and writing workshops for participants to explore and utilize their voices. Azari has featured as a performer in spaces such as Madison Square Garden, Off-Broadway, the United Nations, PBS, World Channel, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and colleges nationwide.

Who can participate?

Survivors of sexual assault who are female-identifying are encouraged to apply. Applications are currently being accepted via referral by a service providing organization. All participants will undergo a confidential screening process with a licensed, trauma-informed therapist.

 

How to apply

  • A service provider must complete either our online or paper referral form. If paper is preferred, please print, scan and return to Claire@WomensJusticeNOW.org.
  • If you are a survivor interested in completing a “self-referral,” please email your contact information, including a phone number, and a brief statement of interest to Claire@WomensJusticeNOW.org. Please make sure you meet the program’s stated “inclusion criteria.”
  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with priority given to those received by Monday, March 1st.

Workshop details

  • The workshop will take place as follows:
    • Saturday, March 21st, 2:30-6:30pm
    • Saturday, March 28th, 2:30-6:30pm
    • Saturday, April 4th, 2:30-7:00pm
  • Location: WJN Office (near 28th St. & 7th Ave. in Manhattan)
  • The workshop is FREE to participants. Every participant completing all three sessions will receive a stipend of $50/session to cover any costs associated with participating. Light refreshments will be provided at each session.
  • Please view our program fact sheet to learn more and view frequently asked questions: