This is for all professionals working with Invisible Girls: The Truth About
Sexual Abuse with their young female clients.
Two years after publishing Invisible Girls, and hundreds of emails as
well as feedback and requests from workshops, my clients, friends, professionals,
I have been asked to put together a guide to complement the psychological work
survivors are doing with Invisible Girls. What I share here are ideas
and ways girls themselves have told me the book works for them. Please consult
this guide and tweak it, bend it, embrace it, whatever works best for you.
I hear from a lot of girls that they are jumping into the book at various
points. If you can, advise your clients to start at the beginning. I wrote
the book in four sections so that it takes the reader on a journey, with a
distinct beginning, middle, and end. The Introduction, and Parts One and Two
pave a road to healing and safety. Part One is like putting on your life
preserver and Part Two proves you can get through the waters safely and survive.
By the time the reader reaches Part Three her life preserver is securely fastened
and she has the support to get through and navigate the muddy waters of her
Warn them in advance that the book may trigger them — that reading about
other abuse survivors may bring up lots of old material and feelings —
and that they should not try to rush their way through it.
You may suggest that your client read a chapter on a kind of abuse that she
did not experience so that she initially has some distance and can develop
empathy, which can help tighten up the fasteners on the preserver (building
defense mechanisms), as she sees that other girls have suffered and clearly
the abuse was not their fault.
By reading about other girls' experiences, the survivor can slowly begin to
realize that perhaps her abuse was not her fault. There will always be a girl
who feels she suffered more than any of the girls in the book (and perhaps
she has), and there will be girls who feel they have suffered much less
and therefore do not have the right to their feelings. I would encourage you
to point out that there are no measurements to pain. Any unwanted touch is
abuse. But again, beginning with empathy for another girl can often allow the
reader to slowly bring herself that same empathy.
Some other ideas for working through the book: