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Healing Through Storytelling

Take Back the Night 2017:

“Healing Through Storytelling”

This year’s Take Back The Night theme is Healing Through Storytelling. We chose this theme after a couple weeks of discussion on what we really wanted to focus on and what TBTN meant to us. Through the Collective meetings, we agreed that it was important for us to highlight the process of healing. Not everyone’s process is the same, but TBTN is about creating a community of support and beginning healing through sharing our stories.

In light of this year’s theme, I’m extending an open invitation to share your story with us through guest writing a blog post, anonymously sharing your story for the TBTN speak out, or sharing a message with survivors. If you are interested, please contact me at

Storytelling is a common tradition to many different cultures and societies that goes back millennia. Storytelling, through oral tradition, predates written history. It’s shown through cave or rock art, pottery painting, fairy tales, books, movies, and more. Humans have used stories to share history, personal narratives, to preserve culture, and instill moral or ethical values.

We use stories to connect with each other, to share experiences, and to teach. In fact, one of the roots of TBTN is consciousness raising groups. Consciousness raising is a form of activism thatwas popular in the United States in the 60s as a way to find common experiences and raise awareness of issues. Domestic violence and sexual assault activism grew out of groups of women who would meet and share what was going on in their lives. These groups aimed to find the causes of oppression of women and to understand what was going on in women’s lives.

Consciousness raising groups became tools for organizing. Through sharing experiences, many women found that they were not alone. They shared their experiences with domestic violence, sexual assault, what expectations and roles they were expected to fit, and how they didn’t fit. These consciousness raising groups directly challenged that women’s issues were personal issues. They challenged the idea that domestic violence was a private problem. These groups popularized the theory that personal problems are political problems; and popularized the phrase “the personal is political.” These meetings pushed the theory that the only solution to domestic violence and women’s oppression is collective action.

Not only is storytelling a form of political action, it is also a way to heal. Many survivors of trauma use storytelling as a way to make sense of their experiences. Storytelling is often the first step in trying to heal. A survivor of trauma may find telling their story is a way to process. It’s a way to figure out why and to connect with other survivors. Telling and sharing stories are ways to heal. For example, the popular series Chicken Soup for the Soul is based in the idea that sharing stories is a way to change the world.

Storytelling is important. It’s the first step in healing from trauma and violence and things that are incredibly hard to process. And it’s the first step to political action. With our stories we can help ourselves, help each other, and help the world.

If you’d like to share your story on this blog, please contact me at