Natural restoration: Nature therapy for healing from sexualized assault
de Vries, Ursula
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Seven women who used time in nature to heal from sexualized assault and abuse participated in a heuristics qualitative study which included the insight of the researcher. The women went into nature on their own to feel better but not to intentionally heal. The impetus was because they remembered feeling good in nature as girls and identified as being nature kids. Being alone in wilderness spaces without distractions from other people led to feelings of safety. Women went to nature occasionally to feel restored, for ceremony alone, or with like-minded others, or routinely to the same location, following the same path, or frequently as part of a regular habit. Being in nature helped with general relaxation and being present by attending to the five senses deepened the feelings of relaxation. Once the women were in the liminal space, they were able to process thoughts primarily through metaphors provided in the natural setting or were able to process feelings because they felt free to express and release them. Awareness of feeling part of nature led to a feeling of love and acceptance within nature, which deepened into a sense of belonging and relationship with Nature. After some time, the women found that they had returned to an awareness of their core selves that was present before someone harmed them. They emerged from the forest whole, without shame, wanting to share their relationship with Nature with their children and society as a whole to bring healing to others.
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