Sexual trauma, especially when it happens at a young age, is damaging to our physical and spiritual bodies. It is the most heinous and vile violation against a human being. The guilt and shame that is often felt by the survivor can stick for many years and affect us for the rest of our lives if not properly healed. As survivors, society does not often give us the tools needed to be able to overcome this sexual trauma, especially if it happens when we are only children.
I would like to take a moment, before I get into the tools I use to heal, to intercede in prayer for all past, current, and future survivors of sexual trauma. I intercede in prayer for all of the children that have had to and still do, endure such trauma. May they be and feel free, loved, protected and safe.
So Mote It Be
When I was 14 years old and living in NYC, I was sexually violated by someone I thought of as a friend. I remember feeling ashamed and guilty that I would ever put myself in a position to be violated. I lost trust in myself and in everyone around me. I closed myself off to the world, little by little, not healing, just numbing. Forget about telling my parents. Growing up, my family was not big on emotional vulnerability and so life for me went on as usual on the outside, except everyday I was retreating deeper and deeper into a world of depression I didn't even realize I was in.
When I eventually had sexual relations after the trauma, it was painful and not enjoyable. I remember researching and thinking I had Vaginismus (when the muscles of a woman's vagina squeeze or spasm when something is entering it, like a tampon or a penis. It can range from mildly uncomfortable to quite painful). I would also frequently get yeast infections so bad that I would bleed from scratching. Needless to say, I was having many womb related issues which, at the time, I didn't consciously know were associated with the sexual trauma I had endured. Becoming a Doula at 21 led me to my own personal womb healing journey. Today, at age 29, I can say that the wound is still there, but is now being used as medicine rather than poison: Alchemy. My advice to you, reading this in hopes of healing sexual trauma, is to be easy and gentle on yourself. The healing journey is a lifelong commitment. It is a daily PRACTICE of REMINDING yourself of your divinity, of your truth. The violation was an experience that you witnessed and your body felt, but it does not define who YOU are. Who you truly are is beyond human comprehension.
The violation was an experience that you witnessed and your body felt, but it does not define who YOU are. Who you truly are is beyond human comprehension.
1. The Blame Illusion
One of the first steps I had to take to healing the sexual trauma was to stop believing in the illusion that I was to blame. I would think, " If I would have done xyz, it wouldn't have happened...If I wouldn't have gone to xyz, spoken to Tom, Dick, Harry, I would've been safe" and on and on. Then I became angry and started blaming the violator and the world. What kind of world is this, what kind of God allows this to happen? Why me, God? Why not me? I was not to blame and neither are you.
I then went from blaming to rationalizing. I was only 14, a child, with no blame to what was happening in my environment. At 14 I was still susceptible to manipulation, not knowing how the world worked. I didn't know how worthy I was, not really, as I was not taught to be cautious and protective of myself from the vultures that our culture and society breeds. The world is full of beauty... and ugly. We must be taught, from young, the existence of both so that we can be prepared.
The truth is, blaming and rationalizing are just ways our ego expresses itself. The truth is, we experience things to learn from them, to heal from them, and to help others heal from the same.
2. Allow Yourself to Cry, Feel Sadness
One of the worst things I could have done growing up was to swallow my pain, not giving it sound, not giving it space to come out and express itself. Because I was a wounded and broken child and did not have the proper tools to deal with the pain, I became a wounded and broken adult. I was never taught that it was ok to grieve, ok to cry, ok to express my emotions, because it was never taught to my family who raised me.
Vulnerability is a sign of strength, but I never felt that way. Growing up, I didn't know how to express anger, frustration, confusion and/or sadness except with crying, which was often dismissed. Because of this, little by little an emotional numbness took over, I would only cry when I was alone and sometimes, not for months at a time.
I was finally able to allow my heart to break over the sexual trauma when I came to the realization that I was safe and secure due to the simple fact that I am a child of God. I cried my little eyes out. Cried and cried, with snot and chest heaving; full body convulsions honey! Oh how good it felt! Crying from deep within me was so cleansing and clearing that I truly recommend it as one of the first steps toward healing. Give yourself permission to feel sad without shame!
Emotions are a way for our bodies to alchemize the experiences we go through and when we do not let them out in a healthy and productive manner, they become lodged in our bodies, creating all sorts of energetic and physical dis-EASE.
3. Healing Your Sense of Security and Safety
The energy center for our sense of security and safety is at the base of the spine and as women, in our womb area. The westernized version of the Chakras call these areas the Root and Sacral Chakras, in Sanskrit they are known as the Muladhara and Svadhishthana, respectively. Sexual trauma creates imbalance in these energy and physical centers that must be healed. The following practices have helped me to heal physically and spiritually:
Vaginal Steaming Regularly- This ancient practice of indigenous midwifery medicine has helped to relax my vaginal muscles, lubrication, and heal my chronic yeast infection issue. It is a personal practice that can be done at home, providing a safe and relaxing environment to heal. Read more about it here.
Eating Root & Green Vegetables- In order to balance the root and sacral chakras, we must be grounded to the earth. One of the best ways to ground is to eat root veggies such as potatoes, yams, squash, beets etc. Eating greens also alkalines the blood which in turn heals any womb dis-ease. Also, drinking teas made out of roots like ginger or taking a tincture out of Peony root.
Meditating- While Vaginal Steaming, a guided meditation or listening to affirmations for the Muladhara and Svadhishthana chakras are ideal because they can help you focus on moving the stagnant energy created by the trauma. A daily meditation practice can help remind you of your divinity and true purpose. Focus on your breathing and allow the thoughts that pop up in your head to just be observed, and with love, send them on their way!
Healing Relationship with Parents- Forgive them. They only planted the seeds that were passed down to them. The most important relationships in our lives will be with ourselves, our mother and our father. Whether they are with you or have passed on, you can always heal your relationship with them by forgiving them, whether in person, in your mind, in writing etc. However you feel comfortable doing it.
Trusting my Partner- for a long time my body was responding to the trauma and not to the loving embrace and touch of my partner. I learned to trust my partner by trusting myself. I started trusting myself when I was able to own my story and identify the triggers my body and mind had. Recognize the triggers and like Abraham Hicks says, "lay down new pipes."
Creative Activities- Try it ALL! I've given it a go at pole dancing, painting, twerking, drawing, writing poems, sewing, and the list goes on! Think of a creative activity you've always wanted to try and just do it. You don't have to be an expert. Don't take yourself so serious, play around, have fun, get out of your head!
4. Visualize Cord Pulling
If you ever daydream, you can visualize. Try the following visualization by recording yourself, or you can listen to my recording here. The visualization that I did for myself looked something like this:
Close your eyes. Take 5 deep breaths (IN 2,3,4, HOLD 2,3,4 OUT 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 x5) sending them all the way down to your belly and up out of the crown of your head. Visualize yourself standing on a serene beach. Take in the scene, look around, look at your feet on the sand. You look straight into the horizon and notice the Sun is setting. You feel at peace, safe, and secure. Nothing and No one can harm you here. This light feels so good, feels like love, it feels like sweetness. You are safe, you are loved, you are held, you are protected and cared for here. You are the observer of everything. You start to feel the light within you wanting to show you something. Something that will help you heal and become whole again. You look back out into the horizon as your inner light starts to show you some silhouettes. In the horizon you start to see dark silhouettes, and a cord coming from your abdomen that keeps you attached to that darkness starting to materialize. Remember, nothing can harm you here, you are merely observing. Notice the color, what is it made out of? Is it dark or light? You hear yourself telling it "I matter and because I love myself, I forgive myself and I release myself from you." You now notice your hands grab the cord that is coming from your abdomen, pulling it out. As you pull it out, you notice you feel lighter and it becomes smaller and smaller, until the last bit is out and you notice the cord being pulled away from you and into the horizon by the glowing, setting Sun. The cord and everything and everyone it was attached to is burned by the fire of the setting Sun, until it completely sets and you are left in the serene light of the full moon. Take 5 deep breaths (IN 2,3,4, HOLD 2,3,4, OUT 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 x5) sending them all the way down to your belly and up out of the crown of your head. Put your hands on your heart, chin to chest, and thank yourself, you are free. When you are ready, flutter your eyes open, move your body and drink water. Be gentle on yourself the rest of the day, maybe eating a soup with root veggies and stay in bed under blankets.
5. Visualize Current Self Comforting my Younger Self (Protecting her)
This powerful visualization came to me during one of my morning meditations. I was sitting by my window, breathing in the fresh air, focusing my energy on my womb. All of a sudden I saw my 14 year old self, 20 minutes after being sexually violated, standing on the subway platform, crying my eyes out. All of a sudden, an older version of myself appeared and asked 14 year old me what was wrong? Older me pulled 14 year old me into her chest and hugged me, let me cry and told me everything will be ok. Older me started telling younger me all of the things I will accomplish and the wonderful woman I will become. Older me told the 14 year old that, though I may not see it now, this experience will help others in the future heal from the same. The train came and we stepped in it together, holding each other, and the vision faded away. In that moment, my 14 year old self was healed.
Go back and ask your younger self what she/he needs. And then allow your creative mind to provide that for them as your older, more experienced self.
I can't stress enough how important is is to be ever so gentle on yourself throughout this process. Take what will serve you and forget the rest.