, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 80-101
Date: 28 Oct 2011

Ritual and Performance in Domestic Violence Healing: From Survivor to Thriver Through Rites of Passage

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This article describes a group for domestic violence survivors to help them move past a “liminal” state in which their social identity is characterized by being “victim” or “survivor” to one of “incorporation” defined by “thriving” and joy. Through the creation and use of healing rituals, blessings, poetry, art and music, the women in the group establish “communitas” and support each other in the work of self-reclamation and healing. The group, “Rites of Passage” is intended for women who have completed shelter-based crisis interventions, and uses a structured curriculum that integrates theoretical and philosophical concepts from anthropology, post-modernism, humanistic psychology, social work, and existentialism. Through the Rites of Passage group, women identify and traverse a healing trajectory to construct an identity founded on strength and fulfillment. Patterned after non-western sex-segregated rites of transition, those who go through the group celebrate its conclusion with a defining ritual that publically marks their change in identity and status.