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Table 4 Impact of Narrating Memories of Sexual Assault/Abuse (i.e., Completing Imaginal Exposures) in Group

From: “I’m not alone, my story matters”: Incarcerated women’s perspectives on the impact and acceptability of group psychotherapy involving imaginal exposure to sexual assault memories

Theme Illustrative Quotes
1. Emotional release and/or transformation (n = 25) • “It’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders”
• “It made me feel free from the prison I was living inside my head”
• “Sense of relief from holding it in for 17 years”
• “Releasing all the pain, anger, and guilt has given me a sense of freedom I have never had. A great weight has been lifted from inside me. Thank you.”
• “Released the shame holding me down.”
• “I have slept better in the last month and a half that I have in twenty-five years and I have got a new peace about me and in my life.”
2. Changed view of people and/or increased connection with others (n = 9) • “It helped me to realize that not everyone is the same. Loosen up and learn to trust.”
• “It was amazing to know that people believed me and others have understood what I went through.”
• “I believe it helped me in a way sharing alone never has.”
3. Transformed view of oneself (n = 7) • “I had a major breakthrough. I peeled the mask off.”
• “Tremendous – believe that it was my gateway to becoming a victor, instead of a victim over my abuse.”
• “It made me…realize that I am a good and forgivable person….”
• “An extremely positive one. I am beautiful and enough.”
• “A different perspective of myself”
4. Challenged self-blame beliefs (n = 6) • “…made me see it wasn’t my fault.”
• “It made me accept the fact it wasn’t my fault…”
5. General positive impact (n = 6) • “It helped me in many ways.”
• “I see that the group helped me a lot.”
• “A huge impact. I never thought I could look at my past the way I am able to do today.”
6. Was hard (n = 4) • “It felt horrible at first. But now I understand that there were emotions I didn’t know I had inside that intertwine with problem areas of my life.”
• “It was hard to actually open up and share how I felt about my abuse.”
• “It was hard for me but it helped by hearing three other sisters share first. It made it a lot easier for me.”