Argrow K Evans-Ford
"Overcoming the Storm: Using Photovoice in Spiritual Retreats for African American Women Healing from Sexual Violence" was a study to determine if using the systematic visual research method, photovoice, assists the survivors with healing within a spiritual retreat setting. Six self-identified survivors participated in a three-week Overcoming the Storm (OtS) support group focused on healing from sexual violence. Healing was defined as overcoming an undesirable condition and restoring wholeness. Healing was also related to the participants' relationships with the God of love and was directly connected to their use and interpretation of the Christian Bible. One year after the OtS support group sessions, I, as the researcher/retreat leader, gave cameras to the six participants and instructed them to take photographs on the theme of "sexual violence and healing in your life" in preparation for participation in a spiritual retreat. Through the photovoice process, women captured images of dozens of healing aides in their lives, and seven common themes arose: children/grandchildren, Scripture, prayer, plants, the OtS support group, journaling, and nature. Children/grandchildren and Scripture were seen as the two most important healing elements for all six of the women. Prayer, plants, and the OtS support group came in second for all except one participant. Journaling and nature came in third place for two participants. In tandem with the photovoice exercise, I guided the survivors through a series of questions aimed at assisting them further in their healing journeys. Pre-retreat questionaires, post-retreat questionnaires, and retreat transcripts provided data for determining the effectiveness of using the photovoice method. The data supported my conclusion that photovoice was effective in the healing process for African American female survivors of sexual violence.