My Story, My Terms: A Storytelling Workshop for Survivors

Blog / January 5, 2022

Women’s Justice NOW has launched a transformative storytelling workshop, a safe space for survivors to reframe and reclaim their stories and experiences. This four-part, trauma-informed workshop will offer an opportunity for women, femaleidentifying, non-binary, or gender nonconforming participants to reflect, write, share, and humanize their experiences as survivors of sexual assault. The workshop is available in an online format via Zoom. 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.


Schedule update: Applications now closed for Spring 2022

Thank you for your interest in My Story, My Terms. Stay tuned for more information about upcoming workshops. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at [email protected].


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.  

Sessions Three & Four:  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.

Christine Vargo

Christine Vargo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Certified Gestalt Therapist and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator – Clinician. Christine has worked in various settings and capacities for more than 20 years for non-profit organizations in NYC and Washington, DC. With experience in administration and as a clinician, Christine brings a range of skills to her work including, management, public speaking, and group work. Now in private practice, Christine utilizes a present centered, experiential approach that strives to connect clients with their mind, body and spirit. Christine invites her clients to practice identifying and increasing awareness of the patterns and defenses no longer serving them. Working with her clients to unravel the core beliefs that are keeping them stuck, Christine strives to offer them tools and skills to develop a practice in living with clear boundaries, integrity, self-compassion, and gratitude. Christine’s mission is to help clients develop a deep connection with themselves and transform how they can live with purpose and passion. Additional information about Christine and her current offerings are listed on her website

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.

Christina Marie Castro

Christina Marie Castro is a Nuyorican multi-genre writer and academic. Christina holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is completing her graduate study in Women's and Gender Studies at SUNY Empire State College. A native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, she studies Puerto Rican social welfare and economics, Nuyorican/Diasporican literature and history, as well as feminism/women’s history and trauma theory with a focus on violence against women. Christina continuously hones her writing and editorial craft while teaching, researching and editing. Beginning January 2022, Christina joined the Women and Gender Studies Department of Hunter College as an Adjunct Lecturer teaching Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies. In her career pivot to higher education, Christina has counseled college students as an academic/career advisor, academic program specialist, creative writing peer editor, and writing tutor. Now, as a Storytelling Educator at My Story, My Terms, she marries her passion for storytelling with her passion for supporting fellow survivors of sexual assault and influencing healing and community building through survivor circles. She believes in and works toward a future free from gender-based violence.

Who can participate?

Survivors of sexual assault who are women, femaleidentifying, non-binary, or gender nonconforming 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 [email protected].
  • 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 [email protected]. Please make sure you meet the program’s stated “inclusion criteria.”
  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Workshop details

  • The workshops are held online via Zoom on Thursday evenings for four consecutive weeks.
  • The workshop is FREE to participants. Every participant completing all four sessions will receive a stipend of $150 to cover any costs associated with participating. 
  • Please view our program fact sheet to learn more and view frequently asked questions: