Exposure to experiences of pain and grief. Vulnerability is not limited to or solely characteristic of oppressed groups, whether women, children or old people. People are only made vulnerable by the existence or perception of threat. The vulnerability of a form of life is roughly proportional to the weight of influences from afar, from outside the locality in which that form has achieved an ecological equilibrium.
A great deal of therapeutic work depends on the provision of enough safety to allow a person to be vulnerable, to feel anguish without having it denied, and to work through the pain towards healing. Choosing to be vulnerable is very different from enforced vulnerability. Appropriate self-protection is just as important as appropriate openness.