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Healing from child abuse

Healing from painful beginnings and child abuse: an overview

Healing from painful beginnings and child abuse: an overview (36:05 mins) 

While every individual will go through their own healing experience there are common healing stages. People cycle through these healing stages, moving from one to another and back again until they have released the past and can concentrate on their present and future unhindered.

1. Acknowledging that abuse occurred

  • Admitting it – no more denial
  • Acknowledging the impacts on you & your life
  • Dealing with the emotions & memories
  • Accepting yourself & your reactions as normal
  • Learning to trust your self & your intuition

2. Making the decision to heal

  • Choosing hope over resignation or despair
  • Making an active commitment to change
  • Putting aside other demands and allowing time to experience emotions, to think about the issues, and to get the necessary help & support
  • Allowing the painful emotions to come up and release – dealing with the chaotic nature of this on your day to day life
  • Finding support – from yourself & others

3. Talking to others about the abuse

  • Breaking the silence
  • Reducing shame & guilt by acknowledging out loud that you were abused & it wasn’t your fault
  • Choosing who to tell, what you want from them & dealing with their reactions

4. Placing responsibility where it belongs

  • Recognising the abuse was the abuser’s fault, not yours – you are not to blame at all. You were a child
  • You are not to blame if you went along with it – the abuser had power over you & you didn’t have all the information to decide objectively – you were a child
  • In the case of sexual abuse, you are not to blame if your body was aroused – it’s a normal bodily response. You’re not to blame if you felt positive feelings of intimacy with the abuser – they may have been nice & loving to you when others weren’t
  • Any problems that arose within the family as a result of the abuse were not your fault
  • Identify & understand how you were tricked, bribed, threatened or coerced by the abuser – you were used & abused
  • You are strong though – you have survived. You can heal & create the life you want!

5. Dealing with the loss and sadness

  • Feeling grief over – what happened to you, your loss of innocence & childhood, the loss of trust, sadness that the relationships weren’t the way you would have liked them to be, sadness over the impact of the abuse on you throughout your life
  • If you get depressed, get help to move through it
  • Feel all these feelings, talk to safe people about them, release the emotion – the intensity will pass

6. Expressing anger

  • Feeling anger over what happened
  • Expressing anger towards the abuser & others involved, rather than at yourself (This is done in safe & constructive ways in private, not necessarily with the actual people involved)
  • Letting go of the need for retaliation
  • Building self assertion & strength

7. Working through the difficulties caused by the abuse

  • Working through difficult physical, social, emotional & behavioural problems
  • Working through unhelpful beliefs about oneself, about abuse or about life in general

8. Building a future

  • Accepting the abuse happened & it is part of the past
  • Development of self acceptance & self respect
  • Acknowledging the wisdom & strengths you’ve gained from surviving the abuse
  • Overcoming residual feelings of vulnerability & lack of confidence
  • Dealing with fear & planning ways to take care of yourself in different situations
  • Setting goals & taking steps to create the life you want
  • Feeling more in control of your life

Summarised many years ago by Dr. Jodi-Anne M Smith from: MacDonald K, Lambie I & Simmonds L, 1995, Counselling for sexual abuse. A therapists guide for working with adults, children and families, Oxford University Press, London, pgs 30-43.

Categories
Healing from child abuse Self help techniques

What are the impacts of child abuse on children and their lives as adults?

What are the impacts of abuse on children and their lives as adults? (50:06 mins)

There are many impacts of abuse on children. If the child does not receive assistance to break free from these impacts they often carry over into adulthood.

Loss of childhood – abused children lose their sense of innocence, their sense that the world is a safe place. A sense of mistrust that persists develops with the abused child often expecting people to abuse them. They, therefore, do not let people close and often go inside themself, close down and withdraw. They begin to parent themself and protect themself as best they can. They may even try to parent their parents to gain a sense of safety. They cannot relax and enjoy their childhood. They may act inappropriately sexually or become withdrawn, confused and silent. They may become less intelligent than they were or more bookish if they find some safety and security in being alone.

Repetition of abuse – abused children have acutely low self-esteem. They feel there must be something wrong with them because of what happened. This low self-confidence makes meeting people and relationships difficult. It leads to difficulty in creating appropriate boundaries and recognizing their own needs. Abused children often accept more abuse as they grow, as they do not know any different and they may feel that it’s their fault somehow. They can’t easily identify the kind of person or behaviour that is harmful to them; only that something doesn’t feel good. They become more likely to be bullied in school and abused in adult relationships. A sexually abused child is 4 times more likely to be sexually abused again than a non-abused child. Castine (1989) points out that 50% of the time daughters of alcoholic fathers marry alcoholics while Jorgensen and Jorgensen (1990) report that one out of every four children of alcoholics develop alcoholism themselves.

Blaming ourselves – children can’t bear to believe that those who are supposed to love them and care for them can be wrong, so they take responsibility for the abuse themself. Blaming themself gives them a sense of control. It’s easier to live with the guilt of themself having caused it than to accept that their caretakers could be so terrible. Abused children believe that they are bad. Some may try to hide their feelings of weakness by acting strong, while others will be cowardly and subservient. They live their lives afraid of being confronted at any time with their badness. This sense of badness may not be conscious; it may be suppressed however it affects all parts of a person’s life (this is what gets changed through therapy).

Emotional rigidity – the abused child carries their hurt and their damaged inner child with them as they grow. The emotional damage affects their development. They tend to become rigid, stuck in particular feelings, thinking or a particular way of looking at the world. They often can’t feel all emotions or express them and maybe stuck in feelings such as happy or loving or angry or fear or complaining. Being stuck is a defence mechanism protecting them from feeling the other emotions that they see as threatening or that may result in re-experiencing an aspect of some earlier abuse. An adult who was abused as a child is often unable to be spontaneous. They do not see their rigidity but are aware of a vague dissatisfaction with their life. They tend to see both people and situations as either positive or negative, good or bad, there is no middle ground. They may blame others unnecessarily and direct their bad feelings and suppressed anger at them.

Isolation – starts from a young age as abusive families often try to hide their dysfunction from others, siblings don’t talk about it and they compete for the attention of the parents. They may abuse each other as they try to cope with what has happened to them. They don’t bring friends home from school or venture out into the world for fear of someone discovering their secret. If an abused person feels they can’t deal with the emotions they’ve buried inside such as sadness, anger, and shame, they will often continue to isolate themselves as adults. They feel separate from others. They do not have a sense of a way out of their position and may overreact to any situation which touches on a felt memory or when people seem like their abuser, or where the feeling is the same as when the abuse happened to them. They may act as if in danger and push people away even though they’re not in danger.

Control – Often abused children as adults feel a need for a strong sense of control. This is so that awkward, painful and difficult to handle emotions/feelings can be kept at bay. Giving up control means facing the pain, which they may feel is overwhelming and therefore must be denied. The need for control can show up in rigid demands that partners, children and others also hide their feelings and control their emotions carefully. It may show up in compulsive behaviour like obsessive cleanliness and tidiness, excessive fussiness, or a need to get things right at any cost whether at work or at home. This anxiousness or desperation can be sensed by others and often makes them feel uneasy around the abused person.

Dependence and insecurity – abused children and adults often have an external locus of evaluation. They judge themself on whether or not others love and accept them or on the size of their career success and assets. These people, who feel a need for someone else to nurture them, to tell them they’re okay, are often taken advantage of by others who see their desperate need and know they can do whatever they want to them and the abused person will put up with it, they won’t leave.

Ambivalence – abused children as adults are often ambivalent to what occurs to them. They learnt to be ambivalent while being abused. They didn’t want to dob in their parents as they wanted their love, feared their loss and the consequences of telling the truth. If the parent only abused them occasionally, they may have seen it as an occasional error to be put up with. They may have pretended that they liked the abuse or told themself that not making a fuss is better or that they might not be believed even if they did say something. Hence they learnt to accept it and just get on with life. They are ambivalent about the effect of this on the rest of their lives. They may never relax and feel safe with those they love. They may never allow themself to be emotionally supported for fear of the loved one becoming an abuser. They may believe that anything good can contain bad and vice versa. The result is apathy, not knowing what to choose or where to turn.

Identifying with the abuser – identifying with the abuser can make an abused child feel strong rather than a weak victim. They will therefore act strong using anger as their dominant emotion, blaming others for things. This is a defence against their underlying feeling of danger and the fear that they may be abused again. If they were sexually abused they may be sexual with other kids. This can be an angry gesture: it happened to me now you; it may be a confusing way of trying to share the experience, trying to make sense of the pain and humiliation; or they may have felt the abuse was pleasurable and want to do it again; they may want their child friend to feel what they felt. Many kids who are abused are also cruel to or abuse siblings, kids, pets or wild animals. They may feel ashamed or guilty of this and beat themselves up. It’s really important to always remember it is not the child’s fault. They learnt what they lived, they know no different, be compassionate, do not abuse them further.

Abusing our bodies – abused children as adults often have a high level of self-contempt and self-loathing. They abuse their body by over or under eating; alcohol or drug abuse; physical abuse or ignoring their body’s needs. They may scar themself in an attempt to make themself less attractive to others or to punish themself.

Splitting and multiple personalities – if a child can not cope with what happened to them they may go inside themselves, go somewhere else. People often report leaving their body and looking down upon the scene when being abused/watching from outside themselves. Everyone has sub-personalities, parts of themselves that are happy, sad, achievers, doers, relaxed, etc, but they are all a part of the one person – they make up me. Some people after extended abuse, however, can form almost whole or partial separate personalities. Their sense of ‘I’ is not always the same, the different personalities take control. They never know when they wake up who’s going to be there. This interrupts their memory as each personality has their own preference, skills and memories. The different personalities may or may not communicate and the person can feel horrible, trapped, unable to control them.

Continuing family abuse – when abused kids grow up they often repeat the pattern with their own children. They frequently fail to connect with their children emotionally and do not know how to behave appropriately so the cycle of abuse continues They may feel horrible about what is occurring but do not know how to break free from it.

The impacts of abuse often go wider than just affecting the individual who was abused. There are also impacts on siblings who were not abused and on their partners, children and those they interact with within their adult life. The following information is offered for non-abused siblings. Recognise that it is normal for you to have felt glad not to be abused, but guilty that you weren’t and your brother or sister was or you may have been jealous of the attention they got and sought it out too – being afraid and eager at the same time. You may feel that you should have protected the abused sibling or at least protested. You may have tried to be perfect to avoid abuse and pointed out how much better you were than the other child as a way of trying to protect yourself. Remember you were a child. You coped the best you could. Don’t avoid the abused sibling now because of your guilt. They’ll probably value your friendship and you can both seek assistance in sorting through your issues and developing a closeness.

Partners of adults who were abused as kids may face all sorts of feelings. They may want to rescue their partner, trying to help them heal and protect them from hurt. This can be problematic as relationships always have some tense moments and both partners need to be able to express their feelings and get their needs met – don’t be silent about your needs as this will only cause problems down the track. The abused child as an adult may occasionally behave poorly trying to get the partner to treat them like their abuser did, provoking them. They are trying to feel familiar, comfortable as they are not used to always receiving love. They’re testing you to see if you really do love them and will accept them. If this pattern occurs talk about it, don’t abuse them.

Partners may feel a lot of confusion about what to do, how to handle it, they may get impatient or tired of their mate always being affected by the past and wish they would get over it. They may then feel guilty or ashamed of themselves for thinking this. Don’t bash yourself up over it. It’s normal for you to feel these things. Talk to your partner about your concerns or seek help or if your partner is open to it you can both seek help together. Accept your feelings of helplessness, your pain at seeing their hurt and your anger at their parents. It’s normal. It’s also normal for you to dislike interacting with his or her parents and not saying anything. However, if this is what your abused partner wants then you need to respect their wishes. But look after yourself and vent your anger and frustration healthily when you leave from visiting their parents. You need to get out any negativity, sadness, anger, etc that you have inside about the situations. When you do this you’ll feel better, more in control and react less to what is occurring. You will be able to change the dynamics of how you interact with your partner.

Learn to own your feelings and behaviour and express yourself effectively with no blaming, no judgment, or criticisms. Learn to use I statements – when you do X, I feel Y and I’d prefer it if you could do Z. If you can do this, creating a safe space for them, with love and encouragement it creates the conditions required for your partner to consider facing their own issues. They have to be ready to change. If they’re not keep working on yourself so things don’t upset you so much and you can enjoy your life fully. This is the best thing you can do for both of you. When your partner does become ready to take action you’ll be able to show them what to do or point them to where they can get help. Remember that what we focus on expands so focus on the positive and create more of it! Be a role model for your partner. Don’t see them as sick, but as a healthy person yet to take action and break free of their symptoms.

While the consequences of child abuse are huge there are also gifts that come as a result of our healing and growth.

  • Ability to persevere and survive
  • Ability to feel and understand emotions and reactions
  • Ability to empathise with others and to accept them and not judge them
  • Ability to connect in with Spirit,  Source and Mother Nature
  • Ability to know yourself on deeper levels and to have a greater emotional intelligence than the majority of the population
  • Ability to receive intuitive guidance & access inner wisdom
  • Ability to appreciate the simple things in life, to stop and smell the roses
  • Ability to be a better parent, friend and partner as a result of all you have learned and healed
  • Ability to be happy, peaceful and grateful for all you have
  • Ability for self love and acceptance of all that life brings, learning to flow with it not fight against it

In Australia, there are a large number of support services available that you can access for free. If this blog has triggered you please reach out to one of the below services to get the support you need. You are not alone and help is available. Similar services should be available in most countries.

Prepared many years ago by Dr. Jodi-Anne M Smith. Some content is summarised from:

  • Bradley R & Johnson Marshall C, 1993, A safe place to begin – working to recover from childhood sexual abuse, Thorsons, London.
  • Castine J, 1989, Recovery from rescuing, Health Communications Inc., Florida
Categories
Healing from child abuse Self help techniques

How do you heal from childhood sexual abuse? (Part 3 of 3)

How do we heal from childhood sexual abuse? Part 3 (22:26 mins)

In the first blog on this topic, we talked about the impacts of abuse and mentioned some tools for healing. In the second blog, we focused on the impact on your sexuality and ability to interact lovingly with others. In this third blog, we focus on the pain and releasing it from the cells of your body.

When great trauma occurs it is often too intense for the person to cope with. They escape it in some way. It may be by pushing the pain down in their body – swallowing it, holding it deep inside locked in the cells and muscles of the body. Others push it out, try to escape it by pushing it away, pretending it didn’t happen, not wanting it to touch them ever again. This keeps it in the person’s energy bodies and it does still affect them and touch them, just energetically. It is like the black cloud walking along behind or above them. Either way, the pain and trauma stay with you.

You can tell the trauma is still there by the bodily reactions when someone comes close to you. Do you react in fear? Does your breath stop or become shallow? Do you flinch? Do your muscles tighten? Do you try to shrink and become smaller to avoid their touch? Do you become angry and resentful? Do you puff up trying to become bigger to ward off the person and protect yourself?

Clearly, any of these reactions show that the body is not relaxed and at ease, the body is not feeling safe or trusting of other people. This shows the body is still locked into the trauma and is in a state of fear, not love, not peace, and certainly not joy. It can be. You just have to release the trauma out of the body.

The trauma is stored within the cells and muscles of your body. That’s why you get tight muscles. They’re literally frozen, tensed up in fear, ready to react to defend yourself, run away or freeze and be still so you hopefully can hide and not be seen.

It is exhausting for the body to be tense and on hyperalert so much. This tension and the trauma underneath it can be released out of the body so that your body relaxes and so that your mind doesn’t feel a need to be so defensive. Relaxing the body results in the mind softening and your defences melting. We literally thaw out the frozen parcels of trauma stored within the body so they can melt away.

One way to do this is through ‘tremoring’. Your body has an inbuilt shaking mechanism to help shift out the trauma and tension from your body. All mammals have it. The shaking uses up the adrenaline and cortisol, the fight or flight chemicals that were created in the life-threatening moment. If you couldn’t run away or fight back at the time, then these chemicals didn’t get used up. They stayed in your body resulting in tension and clenched muscles.

Your body was primed, ready to fight or run, but it didn’t get to and afterwards the body didn’t relax fully. It still felt on edge, nervous, anxious, because these chemicals weren’t discharged. The trauma activation never got released. Later when we get triggered, when our body startles easily, is on edge, even if there is no real danger, it is because of these unfinished trauma activations.

You can use ‘Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) to help the body complete these activations, to use up the fight or flight chemicals through shaking, resulting in the body finally being able to relax, to know the war is over, that you survived and you’re okay. 

TRE is a very simple process and once learned you can use it yourself forever for free, to release stress, tension and trauma. If you’d like to learn more about TRE click here to watch some videos or to book an appointment in person or an appointment online to learn TRE. It is well worth doing so your body can finally relax.

Another important process for helping the body to relax and to complete the trauma stored within is inner child recovery work. When you get triggered or scared it is actually a younger part of you that is triggered and scared.

By becoming conscious of your bodily reactions it enables you to start self-soothing. You can tell yourself “You are safe, it’s okay I’m not in danger here”. You can self soothe by holding your own hand, so to speak, or lovingly stroking your arm or your hair. This calms the body, to know it is held and cared for. I have literally stroked my own hair at times of distress and it feels like a safe adult is brushing the hair of a vulnerable child, and this act of self-kindness leads to a softening of the emotion and relaxation back to peace.

Basically, you become the protective, loving parent of the scared child within you. There is literally a scared child inside you and an angry one and a mad, bad, stomp on all the bad guys one who wants to punish those that hurt people. These are the parts of you from the time that you were that age and experienced those things.

You can easily access these inner children by closing your eyes and asking to see them. At first, they may be hiding from you, you might just sense a closed door or a room of furniture with the inner child hiding behind the sofa, just peeking out at you. You need to win their trust, to have them feel you are safe, you will be there for them and they can tell you how they feel and what they need and you won’t reject or abandon them.

In time as you imagine sitting and talking with them, they will start to trust you and come closer, they will start to share their deepest secrets about what hurt them the most. Listen to them, reassure them you love them and that they were not at fault. It was not their fault if someone older sexually abused them or interfered with them. Many inner children may be confused. They may have allowed the contact to occur because the perpetrator was being nice to them, showing them love and tenderness when others weren’t. When it is a parent, step-parent, Uncle, Grandpa or family friend involved, it is extra confusing to the child as that person was known to them, was a safe space, but then all of a sudden wasn’t.

The child may not have thought what occurred was wrong, they may have thought it a game, only to find out later it was labelled as bad or sinful. There are lots of different scenarios.

The point is your inner child is likely to feel confused and until that is cleared up, they won’t feel comfortable trusting anyone else who enters your life. They will always be cautious and on guard, wondering if this new, supposedly safe person is going to one day hurt them as the family member did. Therefore, they don’t relax, they keep their guard up and stay alert for danger.

In this way, they refuse to let love in. Even if the other person is genuinely authentic in their caring for the person who has suffered abuse, it is difficult for the abused person to accept it, believe it or reciprocate it. This, of course, has detrimental effects on relationships and prevents true intimacy and the feeling of being loved for who you are. Without love coming in from within – to ourselves, or from without – from others, our cup becomes empty and we can fall into despair, depression and feeling worthless, unloved, unwanted and think the world is a horrible place.

Yet the love and the light is there, good people are all around us, we just have to learn to let the love in, and to do so we need to allow ourselves to feel vulnerable, to take the risk to love and receive love, to surrender to life and its process of awakening.

While the inner child is still confused, scared, angry or ashamed this process is blocked or minimised, often to the point of almost complete annihilation. Anyone who dares to show you love or acceptance becomes seen as a threat, a bad person or a foolish one because if they truly knew you, you think they shouldn’t love you, and hence if they do they must not be very wise, smart or worth much. So you judge them and push them away.

To stop such patterns you need to heal your heart, talk to your inner child, send it love. Any time you feel scared, know it is your inner child asking for reassurance, wanting to know you are aware of its concern, and you are taking care of the situation, that you will keep them safe and it’s okay for them to go play or have a nap. They may prefer to stay with you, clinging to the back of your leg, watching to make sure you do handle whatever interaction is occurring that has led to their nervousness.

In time, once they have seen you do handle it and keep them safe, then they will relax and go play, they will become a joyful, innocent child again and this frees you the Adult to also enjoy life again. Your body relaxes, so much so, that when someone approaches you, you do not react with fear or hesitation. You can welcome the person and interact joyfully, peacefully, light-heartedly. It takes a long time to reach this stage, but it is worth the effort.

All it takes is becoming conscious of your patterning and comforting yourself, your inner child, becoming the good parent to it and guardian of it, and in time it will relax. Then the pleasure is amazing. You can stare at the leaves moving in the tree and feel transported into a magical place again, you can feel the awe and wonder that a little child feels for life. You can see the beauty and love all around you and you can let it in.

You can let yourself receive love and goodness and the Universe pours it into you. It always has been doing this, but our defences have stopped us from receiving it. With those defences melted away, we can finally accept the goodness and allow ourselves to have a happy life, with friends, love and peace. It is wonderful to do so. Blessed BE. Amen.

Categories
Healing from child abuse Self help techniques

How do you heal from childhood sexual abuse? (Part 1 of 3)

How do we heal from childhood sexual abuse? Part 1 (19:41 mins)

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.

Categories
Healing from child abuse Personal Development Relationships Self help techniques

Why do we fear rejection so much?

In the past rejection meant death, whether it was the witch hunts, the torture chamber or being left to fend for yourself in the wild as your tribe moved on without you. To be isolated and alone meant death, not just sadness and loss, death.

In today’s world rejection is less serious, a loss of a friend, a job, a group. They can easily be replaced. It is not life-threatening. It only feels like it is or like something serious. In reality, it is not.

The intensity of our fear of rejection depends on how much we were hurt when little. If our parents were there for us and we felt accepted, seen, heard, and loved, we will have a sense of secure attachment, love, and safety when interacting with others.

But if our parents weren’t consistently available to us or our interactions with them led us to feel not seen, heard or accepted, we will have pain interacting with others. If we felt rejected by our parents, not good enough for them, that is a deeply painful process to experience. It is this pain of not being loved and accepted fully by our parents, the devastation of that which then taints our interaction with others. We fear feeling that pain again.

But the reality is as an adult we are not dependent on others like we were as a child on our parents. We needed our parents to care for us, to provide for us. As adults, we can give that to ourselves. So rejection is not as serious or life-threatening anymore. It is just the emotional pain of our past experiences with our parents that leads it to feel so serious.

We can do healing work to heal those wounds so that we feel more secure and safe within. We can meet our own needs and reconnect with our body, releasing the stress, tension and trauma, so that we feel safe and secure within and can be more relaxed and open with our interactions with others. When the wounds are healed it no longer feels so dangerous and we can react playfully and joyfully as we meet others, knowing we are safe and can have fun. Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) can help us to release those tensions and complete the old trauma activations freeing us to enjoy life more fully.

The reality is you may be rejected many times throughout your life. It may be lovers, it may be parents ashamed of your choices. It may be misunderstandings between friends or work colleagues. Do not react with anger or hurt, simply move on, accept it for what it is and move on.

While rejection feels like a loss, like a forced change of direction or focus, it is actually occurring for your highest good. That person or situation has served you well. They have shaped the next chapter in your story. They have helped you redirect your efforts to something or someone else. 

Not everyone will be in your life forever. People come and go, they grow and evolve, and their vibration shifts. If your vibrations conflict, you will part. It is not actually personal. It is energetic and it is meant to be.

A deep loss, of a loved one or parent or child, for instance, may cripple you emotionally for quite some time. It helps you to release sadness and grief. It helps you question your life and what you are doing with it. This may lead you to listen to your heart more and do something you care more about, instead of just going through the motions, doing things that society tells you to do. 

The loss prompts significant change and it serves you. It is a gift, not a tragedy. A gift, remember that look for the good that comes out of all your experience and it is easier to accept.

A minor misunderstanding with someone you barely know, which results in the end of the blossoming friendship, shows you that rejection, while a little hurtful, isn’t the end of the world. Life goes on, your normal life is still intact, just that person will no longer be a part of it. This shows you rejection is okay, there is no need to fear it so much or give your power away to other people so much.

You are actually okay on your own. You don’t need people as much as you think you do. It is not the ancient battlefield or tribal village anymore. There are large numbers of people out there who are willing to be your friend, your partner, your lover, your work colleagues. When the time is right you meet them. You don’t need to search, you don’t need to try and force it or effort it or think too much about it or what you will and won’t say so people will accept you and won’t hurt you, reject you, abandon or abuse you. Just be yourself. That is all you need to do. Those that are meant to join with you will. Those that aren’t, won’t. It is as simple as that. So stop walking on eggshells around other people. Be yourself and be proud.

Rejection is not a death sentence anymore. It is simply one of many events in life that help shift your perspective and help you evolve, as you travel along this journey called life. Blessed BE, Amen.

In this video, Jodi-Anne explores ‘Why do we fear rejection so much?’ It is one of over 100 questions she has asked about life and channelled an answer through automatic writing. All of these answers to questions about life, how to live peacefully and happily are available for free on the ‘Life Insights‘ page of her website.

Categories
Healing from child abuse Health Personal Development Self help techniques TRE - Tension & Trauma Release Exercises

How childhood trauma leads to addiction

This is a brilliant video summarising how childhood trauma can lead to addictive tendencies, and what is needed to heal it. I love Gabor Mate’s work and his way of explaining things. Below is a summary of some of the key points:

  • Trauma is not what happens to you. It’s what happens inside you as a result of traumatic experiences.
  • Trauma is the disconnection from your self, your emotions, your body and your gut sense or intuition. You lose connection to yourself and how you authentically feel.
  • This disconnection results in difficulty being in the present moment and in the development of negative views of your world and of yourself. It results in a defensive view of other people.
  • Addiction is not the primary problem. It’s an attempt to solve a problem, which it does temporarily, but it creates even more problems in the long term.
  • Recovery is rediscovering, finding your self again, reconnecting to your self, your body, your emotions, your gut sense and intuition. You reconnect to who you authentically are and how you authentically feel.
  • Recovery and healing are about reconnection.

There are many ways to release trauma and reconnect with your body. One of the main methods I use is Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). I am qualified to teach TRE to individuals and within a few months will be qualified to teach it to groups. If you’d like to learn more about TRE and how it can help you to reconnect with your body please visit my TRE page.

Gabor Mate – How childhood trauma leads to addiction (9:09 mins)