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

Georgina Lewis


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.


trauma; child abuse; recovery; affordance; reflexivity; healing

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15845/voices.v17i2.859


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Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy (ISSN 1504-1611)