I'm a Survivor
Over the years I have had many patients who knowingly or unknowingly come to my office with the issue of child sexual abuse. One out of every three women and one out of every six men have been abused as a child in our society.
When someone knowingly comes to me with conscious memories of child sexual abuse, it is more important to recognize that the symptoms of it is are what has caused them to seek help. There are many and various symptoms of child sexual abuse. Men and women alike have had their sexuality violated as children; that is it has been opened up in an unnatural way at too young an age. These symptoms vary with the individual, rather than gender. Some develop suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, addictions to alcohol, drugs, or even become sex addicts. Some react in the opposite way, avoiding sex, becoming fanatical about a cult religion to radify their prudish, avoidance. Underneath it all is a sense of shame and poor self-esteem.
Sometimes, promiscuity and addiction to various sexual activities that are not appropriate or could destroy their marriage, have become compulsive. As a child their sexuality has been opened and exploited at a very young age to his or her sexual feelings. They have been exploited, molested, raped, or even just psychologically sexually abuse by adults in the family, or neighbors, etc. The result is that their bio-energetic (e.g.: mind-body energy) has been cut-off at the waist breaking the integrity of the body-mind connection. According to Alexander Lowen (a student of Wilhelm Reich’s), the sexual abuse causes guilt and shame, because the innate natural tendency of sex is to evoke pleasurable feelings. But as a child, this is destructive and the child is made to feel that is was his or her fault. Thus, these are conflicting feelings: pleasurable sex with horror, guilt, shame, a sense of being bad or to blame. The betrayal and sexual exploitation of the child is NEVER the child’s fault, although they grow up feeling that way. It breaks their trust, and as an adult they may find themselves in an unhealthy pattern of sexuality which could destroy their lives. It is devastating to healthy relationships as an adult. The fact is that the body has energy that flows through all of the chakras (actual significant energy points in the body) in a natural homeostasis, or balance. When this homeostasis has been broken, either sexually or psychologically, he or she instinctively wards off the pain by using the body by contracting the muscles of the legs, stomach and pelvic areas. In other words, this energy gets stuck in the sexual area of the body (chakra). Fear will cause the child to block it; the energy is closed off in this way because the trauma of the sexual abuse is overwhelming to a child and would cause madness otherwise. But as an adult it may spill over into repetition of the abuse as promiscuity or sex addiction, or other perversions. Or, sex is avoided altogether in adulthood. Either way, the ability for an intimate, close relationship that includes sex, can be fraught with conflicting feelings, shame, and painful memories.
There are those individuals who have blocked the memories as a child, and as an adult they may have the symptoms of child sexual abuse, and at a later time in adulthood they suddenly remember the abuse. As a clinician, I have had extensive training and experience in hypnosis, or hypnotherapy to help deepen one’s awareness of such memories and to help to dispel their hold on the patient.
The child is never to blame, never at fault for the sexual abuse. It is the perpetrator who is as fault. Then why do children always react with guilt and shame, certain that there was some ugly, shameful, provocative thing about him or her that caused the perpetrator to violate him or her in this humiliating way? These are the things we explore in psychotherapy, which promote healing.
When a patient comes in for therapy with symptoms and/or complaints of child sexual abuse, I try as soon as he or she is ready, to help the individual to deal with the terrific shame he or she has been carrying around for years, and to help heal his or her sense of low self-esteem. I help the individual to integrate these feelings with the body; these feelings are often split-off from the body, along with the memories in some cases, perhaps for the first time. It is possible to heal the pathological behavior only when the patient learns to connect feelings with memories as well as body sensations. It is imperative that a trust has been developed between therapist and client for this to happen.