I follow the #MeToo movement closely because it addresses a reality that is central to my existence. Sexual abuse trauma dominates my emotional life. I was never sexually abused myself; however, my mother was. Her sexual abuse impacted her ability to be a loving mother to me. I recently became aware of the depth of this reality when I read a paragraph about what it is like to be in relationship with a narcissist.
A relationship with a narcissist is a desperate relationship where you are always feeling vulnerable, worthless, hated, constantly explaining yourself, silenced, punished, and traumatized. What is it that you are actually doing wrong? Nothing!1
This describes what it was like to be my mother’s daughter. Extreme abuse can engender a particular type of narcissism. My mother, a victim of sexual abuse, needed to throw her own negative feelings about herself onto me in order to live with the unbearable truth and pain of her experience. I experience my relationship with her as something in me that always feels a need to defend myself and is sure that there is no love or margin of error available to me.
Wholebody Focusing as a Way to Heal Sexual Abuse Trauma
The dominance of this felt sense in my life became clear to me one day as I was preparing for a medical test. Try as I might, I couldn’t clear my mind and relax. Thoughts of random moments in the past in which I felt traumatized by interactions with others kept surfacing. There were so many from such a wide variety of different points in my life that I became completely overwhelmed. I slowed down and connected to the energy of the Earth. I paused with this sense of overwhelm. A new realization eventually emerged—it was futile to try to hold space for any or all of the fast shifting narratives floating through me.
In the space that the pause allowed, I asked my body what it needed. I began to experience the feeling of being unloved and the urge to defend myself from outside attack as my normal state of being. While this was a very unpleasant feeling/realization, it relieved me of the impulse to review past narratives in which I felt this way. I could redirect my energy into being with this wounded place with compassion and love instead of finding arguments and justifications presumably to make it feel better. A great sense of relief opened as I held space for this wounded place in this way.
This new relationship with the something in me that frequently feels unloved and under attack is now in my consciousness. I know that when I am feeling unloved and under attack, being with this sensation with compassion and love helps this wounded place to heal. The more I acknowledge these feelings the more they heal and the obsessive thoughts of past narratives fall away.
How Can our Society Heal?
The collective consciousness of women and men around the world is awakening to how sexual abuse lives in the bodies of its victims. It impacts its victims, their children, and possibly others who come in contact with survivors. By allowing sexual abuse to be so tacitly and widely acceptable in our society, we have created a class of people who struggle to love and accept themselves.
My mother spent her life fleeing from the trauma of her abuse while passing that trauma on to her family. What she needed was someone to stop her perpetrator. She also needed support so that she could heal from her trauma. In the early 20th century those resources were not available to her and our family felt the impact of the abuse that she suffered.
As a society we need to understand the gravity of sexual abuse and the long-term consequences to the victims and their progeny. Sexual abuse has to stop now. Whatever remedies we put into place to prevent sexual abuse have to be unambiguous actions with real consequences that leave no room for perpetrators to continue their destructive behavior. We must also pair new laws and real consequences against sexual abuse with programs to help heal those who have been wounded whenever it happened. Moreover, there needs to be support for sexual abusers to heal whatever trauma they carry which may have started with their own sexual abuse. Wholebody Focusing stands in the forefront of practices that can support that healing.
I look forward to continuing my own journey to heal and the journey that is awakening around the world to end sexual abuse against all human beings.
1 Charm to Harm and Everything else in Between with a Narcissist! @http://www.amazon.com/ Charm-Harm-Everything-Narcissist-Narcissistic/dp/1523820179/ref=sr_1_1? s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1462614209&sr=1-1&keywords=from+charm+to+harm