This is a gigantic topic that can not be addressed in one blog. We will give some general guidance and cover other aspects in future blogs. Childhood sexual abuse is a heinous act that takes away a child’s sense of innocence and trust in the world.
Whether the act was done in a violent or loving manner it rips apart a child’s identity. They are no longer a child living in a world of mystery, awe and learning. They no longer can lose themselves in the moment, they lose spontaneity and joy for life.
In its place come watching, scanning for danger, for fear of it happening again. Confusion terrifies – is it good, bad, dirty, evil? Am I a bad person because of it? Why is it a secret? Why mustn’t others know? All of this takes a child out of a child’s mindset and experience of life. It robs them of their freedom to live life innocently and openly connecting with self, others, nature and life.
Each experience is different, based on the particular circumstances, but none of them is beneficial to the child. The child may feel some pleasure in the physical touch. They may feel love towards the perpetrator who is giving them special attention. They may become jealous of the other parent and sharing the perpetrator with them. This sets up an unhealthy competition between mother and daughter (if that is the scenario). Or the mother may be depressed, father/stepfather unhappy and the child steps in to compensate, hoping father will stay, not leave.
There are many combinations and the above relates to incest by family members or friends of the family. These are the most common forms of incest. Strangers molesting children is much rarer. It is usually a person known to the child. Someone they trust and this also has a massive impact on their ability to trust others.
Whatever the situation, healing from childhood sexual abuse is a long and tedious process. All the various emotions have to be felt and released. The dysfunction of the family and the complicity of those involved have to be seen and acknowledged. Your parents / the adults should have been protecting you, but they didn’t. Shame, anger, rage, grief, loss, isolation, pain, all has to be worked through, before the light can start to enter.
Because these events were so painful and confusing it is automatic to push the memories and feelings away when they surface, but suppressing them does not help. It just keeps them locked inside the body and the person numbed out from feeling fully. This means that they can not experience great joy or happiness either, as their feelings are numbed, on autopilot, shut down to the bare minimum.
This all releases in time as the person learns to feel the emotions and release them. This can be done willingly or not. The body will trigger releases when it feels you are ready for them – be it flashbacks, memories surfacing, body aches/rashes, pain or emotional outbursts. It surfaces in many ways and it will impact your ability to function in your day to day life. Surrender to the process and allow the emotion to be felt and released. It will take time, a lot of time, but it will get easier as you learn how to deal with an emotional release and support yourself through the process.
Eat well, rest and get lots of sleep. Your body is undergoing massive shifts and changes. If the trauma or emotional pain was too intense it gets locked inside the body and it all has to come back out. It needs time for this to all occur. There are no miracle cures or quick answers. It has to occur bit by bit so you can cope and process the emotions that surface.
- You will need to work through feelings of loss and its impact on your life.
- You will have to work through feelings of betrayal and perhaps a desire to punish those involved for what happened, and for not looking after you.
- You will have to work through any shame you feel and learn that it is safe to open back up to love, sexuality, passion and joy.
- You will need to learn to trust others and allow yourself to be vulnerable again.
There is much healing to occur and it does take many years to fully resolve. That is the sad truth of it. It is a major impact on a person’s life and they have to deal with it the best they can. It does lead to lots of personal growth and insight, which is a good thing, but it is a hard way to get it. Especially when others around you may seem to be having a happy, easy life. So jealousy and feelings of ‘Why me?’, of victimhood, also have to be worked through.
It is a tumultuous ride and no wonder the body may struggle at times to cope with it all. Depression is common as people work through the issues. Do your best to support yourself with kindness, love and friendship. Be the loving parent to yourself that you wished your parents were.
Be patient and kind to yourself, you are doing the best you can. Know it will shift in time and while frustrating, your feelings and experience are normal. It is part of the process. That is why we said it is a heinous act. It is one that destroys a person’s natural ability to live and enjoy their life. It dominates their reactions to life and the way they interact with others. All this damage, this processing and conditioning, has to be worked through and released.
Many people become overweight, even obese, as a result of childhood sexual abuse. They hide under the layers of weight, feeling more protected and safe. At some level, they hope they are safer as they feel less attractive and hope no one will attack them again.
Some remain extremely thin, afraid to exist and not accepting nourishment. They hope if they look weak, thin, like a child, people will take pity on them and hopefully look after them. The self-loathing, shame and rejection of self can lead them to self-harm, to punish themselves and therefore not nourish their bodies appropriately.
Some people armour up. They put layers of energetic and physical armouring on their body, which hardens them. It makes them rigid and cold and deflects off anyone or anything that approaches them. It acts as a defence but keeps them isolated as no one can get close enough to give them love. Love would melt the armour and help the emotions to surface. But until a person is ready this feels threatening so they would push away anyone who comes close and tries to love them. They may judge those who come close as unacceptable, untrustworthy – finding some fault in them to justify their actions and rejection of them. This can be a very lonely and sad way to live.
Some channel their anger and rage into their work. They may fight for some cause, some charity, in an attempt to protect the vulnerable in society or the planet itself from abuse by man. This fight, this burning passion to save others or the Earth is due to their own buried pain and the need for themselves to be saved, rescued, loved and supported. It is a projection outwards of what they actually need.
They need to allow themselves to be vulnerable, weak, and to be looked after by others. They have been trying to be strong for so long that eventually, they will collapse and burn out. They will need to rest and face what is inside. They can’t go on fighting forever as they are depleting their energy reserves and no matter what they achieve in their work it will never feel like it is enough because it isn’t what they really need. What they really need is to look inside themselves, feel the emotional pain and release it, so they can then enjoy their lives as much as possible.
Finding peace after childhood sexual abuse is possible. It is just a long journey. Call on the Angels and your Guides to help you. Find practitioners to support you – energetically with healing; your body physically with releasing, and nutritionally with vitamins.
There are many different tools and techniques that can be used to support you through the process. Try different things and see what works for you. The key is to remember to be patient, loving and kind with yourself. You have suffered enough, so don’t burden yourself by feeling not good enough or getting mad at yourself.
Inside you is the scared, wounded, confused child who went through the experience. He/she needs your love and support. They need to be talked to, listened to and reassured. They need to be helped to feel safe again and to trust that you, the Adult you, will look after them. Then they can relax and play again, they can become a natural child again – free, spontaneous, in awe of life and full of joy at what they see. This then unlocks the door to your freedom to enjoy life more fully.
So love yourself through it all. Talk to your inner child regularly. Tell him/her that you love them, you will protect them and you are sorry about what they went through. In time they will trust you more and open up. You can visualise with your eyes closed and imagine playing in the park with your inner child. You can eat ice cream together and do all that you missed out on. You can have fun and form a strong connection and feeling of safety, of being loved, accepted and safe. That is important to do. It brings light into your life and the ability to have fun and play.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. Just this and other experiences get in the way. Do the work to free yourself from the past, so that you can enjoy the rest of your life and make the most of it. You can do it and it’s worth doing.
Don’t keep pushing the emotions away that prolongs the process.
- Breathe through emotions as they arise.
- If it is really intense you can scream or yell.
- You may want to hit cushions against your bed or lounge to release the anger.
- Buried emotions within my bodyYou may draw pictures of how you feel releasing the energy onto paper. Whatever method works for you to get it out of your body.
- Some people like to go the gym or run until they are exhausted and the energy has shifted.
- Hot, salt baths help to cleanse and soothe the body after a release.
- Massage and other body work can help muscles to relax and the body to let go of tension and being in constant fight or flight mode ready to defend itself.
- Time in nature helps ground us and strengthen us to cope with what we are going through.
- Feel the Earth’s energy and allow her to hold you, support you. Imagine her energy coming up through your feet and filling you with love and support. See all that you don’t need draining out of your feet, back into the Earth – give her your heaviness, your pain, your emotions, she can process them for you, turning them into positive energy. The Earth is fertilised with our crap and that of all animals. It is why we put manure into the soil. You can do the same energetically. She can cope with it all. Do this visualisation daily or whenever you feel you have something to release.
Counselling can help if you find a therapist who is familiar with these issues and the complexities involved. It is not completely necessary, but for many people they have isolated themselves enough, they have no one they trust or can talk to about what they are going through. If this is the case a counsellor can be that person and someone you experiment with being vulnerable, revealing your secrets and your fears, desires and truth.
Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) can help your body to release stress, tension and trauma. It can help you to come out of numbness, shut down and depression. It can help you move out of freeze, fight and flight, back down into calm, social engagement where you feel safer to relate with others. It takes consistent use over time to achieve a relaxed, calm body that feels safe, can be present in the now, no longer scanning for danger.
TRE can be used for free once learned, so you can use it regularly at home to support yourself and your body to release out the stuck, frozen energies, allowing you to thaw out and come back to life. It is well worth learning so you can use TRE to support yourself for the rest of your life.
It helps to shift the internal pressure, the intense charge out of your body, so it is then easier to feel the emotions and release them as they no longer feel so big, so explosive or threatening.
TRE helps you to come home to yourself and to feel safe in your body. It really is a blessing for those of us that have suffered sexual abuse and other forms of abuse and trauma. It is best to learn TRE with a practitioner for the first few sessions to make sure you know how to self-regulate and can use it safely, knowing how to recognise the signs when your body says “That’s enough for today“. If you are unsure or would just prefer to have a supportive person holding space for you then you can continue to do TRE with a practitioner, but there’s no need once you’ve learned it. You have the choice to do it on your own at home or with a TRE practitioner like me in person or online via Zoom.
Each person’s journey will be unique to them and it all takes time. Go easy with yourself. You don’t need to dig through your past trying to find clues about what did or didn’t happen. it will surface when it is meant to when you are strong enough and ready to process it. So just enjoy your life as much as you can and know that you will remember or be triggered by others when the time is right for you to complete the next part of your healing journey.
Know that you do deserve peace, love and happiness, and you can get it. In time you will be free and you will be so grateful for that. You are brave souls on a massive journey. We cheer you on from the sidelines and we watch your progress. We hold your hands when you cry and laugh along with you when you laugh. We are always here, supporting and encouraging you, whispering in your ear helping you to intuitively know what you need to do next. You are never alone. You are held in the arms of God and the angels. You are cherished and cared for by those of us assigned to you this lifetime. We see your beauty. We see your strength, your innocence and your goodness. It is our job to help you to see them too. We love you. Blessed BE. Adieu.
In this first blog, we have talked about the impacts of abuse and mentioned some tools for healing. In the second blog, we focus on the impact on your sexuality and ability to interact lovingly with others. In the third blog, we will focus on the pain and releasing it from the cells of your body.