Survivors experience a range of emotional and psychological effects in the aftermath of a disaster, which have no expiration date.
Anyone who has experienced the effects of a disaster knows resources and social supports for survivors can either help promote healing and recovery, or, if resources aren’t accessible or culturally sensitive, may also present obstacles and challenges.
Sharing your story is a powerful way to reflect on both the support you received and the challenges you faced or still may be facing. It is a way to shape your own narrative and provide a sense of hope to others who might find what you have learned useful to them. The following examples are important benefits to sharing your story:
- Reframing one’s experience of a disaster and creating meaning
- Expressing an experience in one’s own words as opposed to a media driven narrative
- Validating the emotional impact that may be happening in the communities where the disaster occurred
- Becoming a tool for group & community learning beyond the specific disaster, to other disaster populations.
Sharing your story is a personal choice. It is important that a survivor feels ready to share their story. When considering your own readiness, it is recommended that a survivor have enough distance from the date of the incident, usually 18 months or more, to share in a safe and intentional way. It is also recommended that a survivor have an active support system (loved ones, peer supporter, counselor) available to help process reactions.
The following guidelines will help you consider what is important for you to convey and what to expect once you have shared your story.