“Saber es Poder” by Maxine Harris, Fabiana Wallis, Hortensia Amaro

Subtitle: Modelo de Trauma y Recuperación para Mujeres Latinas

Translation: Knowledge is Power: Model of Trauma and Recovery for Latina Women

Recommended to me by: Fabiana Wallis’ bio at Conexiones

This book is a curriculum for a 25-session trauma recovery support group for Latina women. Since I hope to work with Conexiones Center for Trauma Recovery as a practitioner, my goal was to refresh my Spanish language skills and learn the vocabulary associated with trauma and recovery. It served that goal well.

The book also included specific information about Latino/a culture and issues for immigrants.

I read this book as both a practitioner helping people recover from trauma, and as a daughter of immigrants from Latin America who experienced trauma. I fit the target reader in some ways and not in others, especially since the book assumes a sharp separation between facilitators and group members.

The information was very basic, aimed at group participants who had never thought about trauma and its connection to present behaviors. There was recurring emphasis on the issues of drug use, prostitution, and unprotected sex. There was no discussion of the mechanisms of PTSD in the body.

In the various units, I saw identification of the damage wrought by trauma, but less help in building new skills than I expected. I imagine a woman reaching the end of the support group and thinking, “Now what?!” At the same time, I imagine that the opportunity to speak about past trauma and receive support would be healing in itself.

When used by knowledgeable and compassionate group facilitators, I think this book would form the basis for a useful, culturally aware support group for Latina survivors of abuse.

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