430 Mental Health
➤ Once a woman
reactions, the feelings
usually have less
control over her.
Helping women with reactions to trauma
• The most important way to help someone suffering from
trauma is to help her learn to trust others again. Let her
control how fast the relationship between you develops.
She needs to know you are willing to listen, but that she can
wait until she feels ready to talk. Doing everyday activities
together may be best at first.
• It may help a woman to talk about her life before the
trauma as well as her current experiences. This may help
her realize that although life has changed a lot, in many
ways she is the same person as before. If it seems right,
encourage her to do some of the same activities she
enjoyed before or that were part of her daily routine.
• Some painful things may be too difficult to talk about, or
may be ‘buried’ away where they cannot be remembered.
Exercises like drawing or painting, or a physical activity
like massage, can help a person express or relieve these
• If a woman dreams of the trauma, she can put an object
from her new life next to her as she sleeps. This helps her
remember, when she wakes from a bad dream, that she is
• If reminders of the trauma make a
woman react in fearful ways, help her
make a plan for those reminders that
cannot be avoided. For example, a
woman might tell herself: “His face is
like the man who attacked me, but he is
a different person and does not wish to
• If a person was tortured or raped,
remind her that she is not responsible
for what she said or did while being
tortured. All responsibility lies with
those who tortured her. Help her
understand that one aim of torture is to
make a person feel she can never feel
whole again, but that this is not true.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012