Denial and bargaining often overlap – when the denial becomes too great the bargaining phase usually takes over. During the bargaining phase the victim will acknowledge that something terrible happened but he will try to convince himself and others that there was no trauma associated with the event. This is the ‘yes but’ stage of the recovery process. The therapeutic task in this stage is to overcome family myths and social stereotypes and misinformation that allow child abuse to take place in the first place, preventing victims from talking about it and about the impact it has had on them.
One form of bargaining is pseudo forgiveness. This occurs when a victims goes straight from the denial stage into the forgiveness phase without experiencing other emotions associated with the abuse.
True forgiveness doesn’t come straight from denial, it emerges only after a complete understanding of what has happened has occurred, including the nature of the wrongs and where the responsibility lies.
Bargaining also raises it’s head after the victims first admittance that the abuse actually happened. Once the abuse is out in the open the euphoria of the secret being lifted is often followed by the victim thinking that that was all he or she needed and now that the weight has been lifted they are free to continue their life and forget about the abuse. This of course isn’t true.
Again a good way of dealing with the the bargaining phase is to write a letter. write a letter for each side of the story. For example write a letter arguing your point and then write a letter arguing against it.
Another side of bargaining is requiring outside proof that the abuse actually happened. In other words the inability to trust your own thoughts and feelings. Evidence of this nature is very hard to come by. adults very rarely admit they were abusive to children so the only evidence is that of the emotional scars left on their victims. Trusting your own feelings and emotions will take time, but isn’t impossible.