Take a subject you’re familiar with and imagine it as three photos in a sequence. Tackle the subject by describing those three shots.
First Shot: The new client looks up from her iPhone as I come down the stairs. The expression on her face is apprehensive, shut-down, and scared. Her eyes are shadowed. There is no smile. As I speak her name, she gathers up her things. I extend my hand, introducing myself, and invite her up to my office. She follows, saying nothing. I’m already pretty sure I know what her story is.
Second Shot: I’ve gone through the preliminaries, started my paperwork, done my best to make her comfortable. Chit-chat about the weather, her cute shoes, anything to put her more at ease. She sits perched on the very edge of the sofa, in the farthest corner away from me, rigid.
Third Shot: She has told me an abbreviated version of the purpose of her visit. I’m picking up cues from her body language, her downward glances when she’s avoiding the real truth, her rigid posture on the edge of the sofa as if she’s poised to run. When she finally stops talking and looks up at me, I say to her, “Who molested you? Was it a family member?” The third picture is of her astonished face, tears welling and pouring down her cheeks, her body caving inward as she absorbs the fact that I’ve seen through her words to the truth in such a short period of time.
I wish there were a fourth, fifth and sixth shot. They would show her beginning the long, difficult process of healing, of accepting that what happened to her was monstrous and ugly and changed her forever; that it was NOT her fault, no matter what her abuser told her; that she CAN rid herself of the guilt (false) and fear (overwhelming) that she will turn around and molest her own child, that she is somehow evil because of what was done to her.
And the final shot would be of her strong, look-you-right-in the-eye face several months later as she puts her shoulders back, smiles, and walks out of my office for the last time with a spring in her step and a determination that she will live a normal life, free of the evil that her molester introduced into her heart when she was too little to defend herself.
She is a survior. She is a champion.