“I feel mentally strong now…..nothing is bothering me”
Expelling the poison of childhood sexual abuse
Natalie had carried the secret of her childhood sexual abuse by more than one family member for five decades. She had told no-one about what had happened to her. She almost did not tell me, as I gently questioned her about her life in order to try and discover a reason for the deep bouts of depression and extreme stress and anxiety she had been grappling with for much of her life. She could not cope with anyone being angry or displeased with her, and so had spent her life suppressing her own needs and trying to keep those around her happy.
Most victims of sexual abuse are silenced by a sense of shame about what happened to them. Abusers may threaten their victims to keep them quiet, may use rewards to draw them into feeling they are co-conspirators, or tell them they would never be believed. The power of an adult over a child in this situation cannot be overestimated. But Natalie had another layer of silence to deal with: a cultural one.
Born on another continent into a culture where, upon marriage, the woman enters the husband’s family, revealing such abuse was taboo. It would bring shame on the husband’s family, if told, because this was now her ‘primary’ family (“family business means their family”). She could not confide in her own parents either, even if that option were open to her: “would they believe me?” and if they did: “I was afraid the family could split”. So she had no support and nowhere to go with her difficult feelings. The whole topic of depression was also a societal taboo, so her obvious periods of distress were referred to in the family as ‘tiredness’. She told me: “I feel really low. It eventually clears, but I don’t know what triggers it”. Stressful family events can trigger bouts of depression: “I get episodes which really throw me”. Despite this, Natalie claimed to mostly be enjoying life between these bouts. Recently, her husband has begun to understand more what depression is, and that understanding has led to her feeling more supported by him.
Natalie and her mother and siblings followed their father to the UK when she was a small child. The first period of abuse took place aged 4-7. The second, in the UK, stopped when she was around 14. Seeing the first abuser again aged 12-13 she began to remember what he had done to her. This was while the second abuser (also still alive and in contact with the family) was still assaulting her. All together, these two men, trusted family members, assaulted Natalie without being detected for eight years of her life up to the age of 14.
Once Natalie had decided to reveal the abuse to me, she opened up and told me what she could remember. It was obviously difficult for her to talk about the details. Perhaps she had feared that I would judge her if she mentioned it. I reassured her that in such a situation, the child is never in any way to blame.
Rather than going straight to a regression session, we scheduled a healing session first, in order to help Natalie find some firm and supportive ground from which to work. She reported feeling good after spiritual healing in the same way she does after a yoga session. She also sensed or heard a voice in her head during the healing which told her ‘you are not alone’. This is a beautiful illustration of the power of healing energy to help us feel connected again. During the healing session, we did a soul journey, allowing Natalie to experience her own private safe space. This can be a valuable tool for a client to take away from a session and use at home if things get difficult or stressful.
When we met for a regression session, I first relaxed her into a trance state, I suggested her body memory take her back to the first assault around the age of 4. Her principle memory of the first instance of the earlier abuse was of a ‘burning sensation’ between her legs. It was night, and as is often the case in a hot country, the family was sleeping on the roof of the house. In the second case, in the UK, she had been asleep in bed when she was assaulted for the first time. She reported similar physical sensations.
We worked with both abusers, getting Natalie’s voice and power back, allowing that little girl to express her fury at her attackers. We cleared the taint their assaults had left deep inside her at every level. Using various techniques, we released the shock energy still lodged in her system and cleared her mind, body and soul of shame and culpability. As is so often the case, the extent of the effects of this early trauma on her self-image were profound, leaving corrosive beliefs about herself behind (“I am bad”). She also realised that her belief that she had no right or power to say ‘no’ to anyone stemmed from these hidden experiences of shame and powerlessness.
A fortnight later, we met for another healing session. Natalie reported feeling good after the regression session
“I feel a lot more at peace with myself, much stronger, a lot calmer. I feel mentally strong – nothing is bothering me”.
I checked in with her around a month later. The effects of a successful regression session continue to come through for weeks or even months later. It can also be that successfully releasing one level of trauma can lead to other issues ripe for healing being discovered. In Natalie’s case, this does not seem to have happened. She wrote to me as follows:
“Everything is good. I am feeling very strong and comfortable with myself. I thank you so much every day for the help you gave me in getting me to come to this wonderful state I am now in. I am finding that I can accept criticism and any negative comments without getting upset, and I just remind myself of my safe place where I can go”
Natalie released a lot in this one regression session, and has started to move forward in her life without the traumatic memories burdening her and holding her back as they did in the past. The effects of childhood sexual abuse can, however, be particularly subtle and pervasive, potentially affecting all areas of life. The recovery process involves a gradual ‘unwinding’ of the distortions which such shocking early experiences can imprint on our sense of ourselves and our place in the world.