“Let Your Secrets Sing Out”: An Auto-ethnographic Analysis on How Music Can Afford Recovery from Child Abuse


  • Georgina Lewis University of Exeter




trauma, child abuse, recovery, affordance, reflexivity, healing


There is extensive literature documenting that music can enable recovery and healing through various means such as performance and memory-work. However, an understanding of ‘how’ music achieves this is less clear. A combination of academic enquiry and reflective writing from a survivor who uses music to recover offers a compelling perspective on music’s functions and abilities. This article explores how music affords recovery following the chronological timeline of an abuse survivor’s own recovery, and this chronology is presented through four main phases.  As a communication device, music can initiate disclosures and expression of trauma. Music can also ground a survivor into the present and thus allow recovery to be manageable. Music can create a safe space through its various qualities; crucially – the musical use of boundaries and in this space recovery can occur. Finally, music can afford the development and maintenance of safe attachments and an understanding of worth, fostering healing from the damage inflicted from abuse. These themes together provide a unique perspective and understanding of how music can afford recovery.

Author Biography

Georgina Lewis, University of Exeter

Georgina Lewis graduated in 2016 from the University of Exeter with a First in BSc Sociology and Criminology. Her undergraduate dissertation project explored the motives and identities of volunteers in Calais refugee camp, analysing the process, meaning and motivation of becoming “volunteer” in such a unique and challenging environment. Georgina currently works as a support worker in a secure forensic psychiatric unit, providing support for patients with mental health issues such as psychotic disorders and personality disorders. Georgina has given talks at several Universities in the UK, and elsewhere such as in South Africa and Germany. These talks discuss recovery from trauma, drawing on her own journey to educate and empower people. She has worked with staff at schools and spoken at a Babcock Education Conference as a keynote speaker, working to inform and educate staff about how abuse may affect a child, and how teaching staff can be of support. She has worked with organisations such as Mind, and Devon and Cornwall Police, to create resources for education regarding mental health. She hopes to continue progressing in her academic qualifications to ultimately work on research regarding music and trauma. 



How to Cite

Lewis, G. (2017). “Let Your Secrets Sing Out”: An Auto-ethnographic Analysis on How Music Can Afford Recovery from Child Abuse. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 17(2). https://doi.org/10.15845/voices.v17i2.859