Healing Sexual Trauma
When I developed chronic pelvic pain (IC/BPS), I began working to heal on all levels: body, mind, and spirit. About five years into this process, I remembered being sexually abused at ages four, five, and nine by the priest who was a very close family friend. I had suppressed this trauma for over forty years, so at first it was hard to accept. But my siblings told me they were sure it was true, and these new recollections matched the memories I had kept, and the responses of my body, too. Uncovering this abuse helped me heal on deeper levels. It was a long journey, but I'm now pain-free and peaceful.
If you are suffering from the effects of sexual trauma, here are the top ten insights that came through for me as I worked to heal. Maybe they will speak to you, too.
1. You are valuable. You are wanted. You belong. The more you consider that these things are true, the more you will see them in your life.
2. You are a sexual being, and this is not bad or evil. When this part of you is shared with loving intentions, it can be life-giving and joyful.
3. You have a right to your feelings. Instead of hiding them or numbing yourself, consider letting your emotions live.
4. When you hold anger, rage, and resentment, it lead to physical and emotional pain. So find ways to release these emotions in ways that do not harm yourself or others. You can tell someone you trust (like a therapist, wise family member, or friend). Write in a journal, or express your emotions physically. You can beat up your bed or scream into your pillow.
5. When you can’t or don’t want to let go of your anger or rage, be kind and patient with yourself. Accept yourself right there, and this can help you heal. The safer you feel with yourself, the more you will be able to release what you are carrying, and the freer you will feel.
6. Even though the act was incredibly wrong and it violated your boundaries, you might have felt a sense of connection and maybe even pleasurable feelings. You are human and a sexual being and this is just life. You are not bad, and it wasn’t your fault.
7. Be honest about how you have reacted to this trauma in your life. Consider how this experience changed your beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and actions. You can’t change what happened to you in the past, but you can change how it affects your heart and mind- now. When you focus on the present and you work to open up, you can take back your power and heal.
8. You have been given a huge challenge, but also a huge opportunity to grow. Sometimes when it is really dark, it becomes easier to appreciate the light.
9. You have not been abandoned by God. You have experienced a misuse of power, and you are much more than this experience.
10. There is always an option to open up to experience more love. You are capable and worthy of this love, and at your very core, you are this love.