Everyone loves a comeback story. That’s why Brendan Fraser’s return to the Hollywood stage has resulted in awe, applause and praise at every turn.
It’s particularly poignant seeing the actor’s success now. This week, Fraser earned an Oscar nomination for his role in “The Whale.” The milestone comes after Fraser has been public about the hardships he’s faced during his career, including being sexually assaulted.
The incident left Fraser depressed and reclusive, he told GQ in 2018 in an article titled “What Ever Happened to Brendan Fraser?” It nearly derailed his career.
Hollywood recognition can’t erase trauma. But those struggling may find hope in Fraser’s success.
“In seeing a public figure experience this kind of comeback, we have an opportunity to allow the story to challenge our assumptions about ourselves and others, reconsider limiting beliefs, and even gain insight in the creative ways we can face difficulties throughout our lifetime,” says Amanda Garcia Torres, licensed mental health counselor at Chairwork Therapy NYC.
Brendan Fraser’s trauma, career comeback
Fraser, once a sought-after movie star, took a break from blockbusters for many years. In his 2018 GQ interview, he said he was groped by former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Philip Berk, in 2003. (Berk remained part of the organization until April 2021, when he was ousted from the association after sending a email calling the Black Lives Matter a “racist hate movement.”)
Recently, fans let Fraser know they were in his corner. An August 2021 video of the star becoming emotional at a fan meet-and-greet went viral on TikTok.
“There are so many people out there who love you,” the fan told Fraser. “And we’re rooting for you, and we can’t wait to see what you do next.”
Fraser stunned critics with his transformation for “The Whale.”
‘It is incredibly healing’
Healing after trauma is easier said than done. But making space for happiness is an important step in the process.
Garcia Torres says “it is incredibly healing and meaningful for trauma survivors to welcome joy after experiencing harm.” That doesn’t mean denying “the gravity and impact of what has occurred, but choose how they will now live their life going forward,” she adds.
Coming out the other side of traumatic events is what licensed clinical social worker Cecille Ahrens calls “post-traumatic growth.”
“This is when a person survives and thrives after experiencing a traumatic event,” she says. “This resiliency allows a person to transform from a ‘victim’ to a ‘survivor’ mindset. The healing and growth that can occur after a trauma can be absolutely powerful and transformative.”
How overcoming trauma and can motivate change
As Fraser racks up wins and nominations for “The Whale,” trauma survivors may begin to vicariously feel like winners themselves.
“It can motivate us towards change,” says Ahrens. “It can also be a great reminder that our past doesn’t have to define us and that our pain doesn’t have to forever rule our lives. The more people who are in public positions and roles talk about their own struggles, the more normalizing and destigmatizing it will be to seek mental health care. The underlying message is that we can heal and move on and still live a full life despite what happened.”
Garcia Torres says embrace it: “When we see this, it can remind us that we also have the chance to overcome our own painful experiences. In particular, it can also be very healing and validating to witness another person be truly heard and seen. ‘If the world is willing and able to believe and accept their story, maybe it is possible for me to share my story, too.'”
What to know about trauma
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Important:Paris Jackson said the paparazzi traumatized her. What exactly is trauma?
Wow:Trauma isn’t just psychological. It can impact your body too.
To think about:‘You’re so mature for your age’ isn’t always a compliment. Sometimes it’s from trauma.
Story Credit: usatoday.com