Although psychotherapy is crucial to healing the severe wounds inflicted by child sexual abuse, there are ways of calming the unhealed victim inside the adult survivor that don’t require therapy. However, the symptoms will inevitably return when the abuse is re-triggered and will continue to return until the repressed emotion connected to the physical manifestation is entirely resolved in the subconscious mind.
None of the methods described in this article are guaranteed to work. They do have the capability to help anyone who has been sexually abused, but every person is unique, and some people have been so severely abused that these methods cannot do much.
I can’t promise anyone that these actions will help them. I can only attest to the fact that they helped me countless times.
This section is written directly to abuse survivors who experience psychosomatic problems:
When a body memory attacks, you can try closing your eyes, take three deep breaths, and imagine taking the hand of the little one inside you, and then envision leading him or her to a safe place. Use a strong voice to say, “I am not a victim anymore.” Then gently say to yourself (to your inner child), “I hear you. I know you are crying out for help. It’s okay, I am your protector now.” If you are currently in therapy you can say, “I am working on this in therapy and you will feel better. You are being helped.”
This technique enabled me many times to eliminate a painful symptom immediately. But we must also prove to our inner child that we are not a victim anymore.
I remember once when I was being scammed on an item I ordered online, and the company was trying to back out of the deal, I called them on their attempt to get me to stop trying to get my money back. After I hung up the phone, I said out-loud to myself, “you are messing with the wrong girl!” In that moment, two psychosomatic physical symptoms I had been experiencing, disappeared in that instant. This is because I stood up for myself and would not allow someone to take advantage of me. I felt great the rest of the day, and the problem was eventually resolved with a full refund in my favor.
The once-abused child inside of us wants to know the adult survivor is going to defend them. Our inner child needs us to be powerful and strong for them. A friend of mine recently told me she was a bit angry with her husband for not standing up to a man who makes her feel uncomfortable when he gets too close to her at parties or sits really close to her. I told my friend, “Stand up for yourself. You be the one who tells this guy that he is invading your personal space.” She really liked that idea and looked forward to defending herself.
We can never wait for someone else to protect us. We must always set our own boundaries and not allow others to step on those boundaries. Our little child inside us does not like it when we are a people-pleaser, don’t speak up for ourselves, when we don’t take action against injustice, or when we don’t stand up to people who cross boundaries.
But anyone who is not in therapy, and struggling terribly with emotional pain, might not feel any effect from firmly telling themselves they are not a victim anymore, because the little one inside of them might still feel very victimized by the past, and by the outside world. Death threats and extreme trauma from childhood can cause some survivors to not feel safe enough to even dare stand up for themselves in the first place.
Disarming a trigger before it can cause the body or mind to react negatively, is another effective way to find short-term liberation from physical and mental disturbances. If you know you are about to go somehwere that has triggered you before, or plan on seeing someone who might provoke the abuse, or know that the content of a movie may upset you, you can tell yourself, “Okay, this might be a trigger but I do not have to allow it to affect me.”
The act described above, is a way of mental preparedness that can disarm the problem and calm the subconscious for a period of time. Unfortunately, most triggers are unknown, and subconsciously based, so disarming isn’t possible most of the time.
If you feel a symptom creeping up on you, or you are already triggered, you can try lying down and taking three slow deep breaths. If you cannot lie down, then standing up is okay. If you are at work you can excuse yourself to find privacy in order to perform these exercises. After the three deep breaths, say to yourself, “This is not a part of me; I am living in the present, not the past.” Place your mind on your breath and concentrate on the sound of your breathing.
Another breathing technique that worked for me was to consciously connect the in and out breath, instead of breathing in, and then out. Connect the in and out breath for a minute while focusing your mind, only on the sound of your breath.
Prayer, Love, and Gratitude
Over a decade ago, Dr. Masaru Emoto made shocking discoveries by photographing water crystals under different conditions, from different sources and using different stimuli. He explored water’s susceptibility to human words, emotions, and thoughts by freezing samples of water that had been exposed to either positive or negative words, emotions, or music. He found that water exposed to positive influences results in perfectly formed crystals, while water exposed to negativity produces ugly, malformed crystals.
Our bodies are composed of about 70% water, so the assumption demands that human beings have the power to not only change their own health for the better, but to evoke change on a global scale, by prayer, and loving thoughts about ourselves and others.
Changing Your Thoughts
One of the most important things I learned through my therapist was the ability to alter my negative physical reactions, fear, and tension by changing my thoughts -at what one might call- “the moment of impact.” This is a sudden situation brought on by life not going the way I had planned, or something not working correctly, or worrying about money etc. etc.
Everyone has moments where they experience life’s problems, snags, and stresses which trigger anger, fear, or tension. A simple method -based on the principles discovered by Dr. Emoto- is to change your negative thought in the very moment of impact, for a thought of love and gratitude. By doing so, you can literally alter your body chemistry to obey your thought of love and gratitude, instead of your body chemistry obeying your anger, frustration, or fear –because those emotions will cause nothing but physical, emotional, and psychological problems.
Some examples from my life:
Whenever I sit down to pay bills and money seems scarce, instead of fear, worry, or anger…I instead say to myself (with true faith and true gratitude) “Thank you God for all the abundance in my life, and for the roof over my head, the clothing on my back, and the food on my plate. I trust you, and I am grateful for all we have.” This action instantly changes the cells in my body and I feel no more fear, and no physical reaction from fear or stress. This method has never failed me, and somehow the bills always get paid, and all is well.
When I am out walking my dog and she suddenly goes off on her own, disobeying my command, and gets into deer poop, and won’t listen to me when I call her… instead of allowing anger and frustration at not getting the result I want, I take a deep breath, look up at the sky and the trees, and thank God for the beauty and for my very life. This stops any negative feelings that would result from anger over not being paid attention to by my dog –who is just doing what dogs do! She is just enjoying herself and not to blame. She loves the wonderful smells in the woods, so I just gently coax her back to me after I take my deep breath and give thanks for all that is beautiful on my walk. This way, both my dog and I, are happy.
One last example is when I see trash out in nature and I feel myself becoming angry at the person who was so unaware to have thrown their garbage into the beautiful earth….instead of being angry that I have to pick up after other humans, I pick up the trash with gratitude. I say thank you to God for my two arms, my two legs, and that I can do this task for Mother Nature.
We humans are so impatient and ungrateful so often. Practicing this kind of thought-alteration is very effectual to your physical and mental well-being
Another wonderful way to improve your well-being and to alleviate emotional and physical suffering, is to utilize the Natural Rejuvenation DVD and the relaxation C/D (click here). The end of the C/D enhances your ability to remember to choose good thoughts –thoughts that benefit yourself and all of humanity.
Another powerful action is to simply ask Jesus for help. Even if you are not Catholic, or Christian, this can be highly effectual, but if relief doesn’t come, this does not mean you were not heard, or that God doesn’t love you. It just means that for a time you have to go through the suffering. Everyone on earth has to endure pain and suffering, no one escapes it. But please know that it will pass.
If nothing seems to change after prayer, then lie down, take three deep breaths, and offer the pain to God. There are also powerful words that can be used anytime, anywhere, by anyone. With true faith say, “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee,” then sincerely ask Jesus to help you bear your cross. This method has never failed me. My suffering always diminished in some way after offering the pain to God, and asking Christ to help me bear my cross. Either the body memory would abate, or something else would occur to help me in that moment. For instance, my cat would jump up on my lap for love, or my husband would suddenly offer to do the dishes, or he would just walk over and hug me.
But the most beautiful thing, is that anyone can say these words; you don’t have to know Jesus to say them. Jesus is like the sun, He shines for everyone. It doesn’t matter what religion a person identifies with, it only takes a willingness to be helped by Christ. It doesn’t even really matter if you believe in Jesus, because He believes in you.
Taking Action To Help Your Inner Child
There are conscious physical actions that can aid in healing. As I wrote earlier in this article, a powerful way to help your physical and emotional well-being is to express yourself in conversations, or speak up to those who have done something that is not okay with you. Keeping silent when you do not agree with someone is the same as giving them your approval, and this can anger your inner child. Your conscious mind might feel happy because you did not get into an uncomfortable discussion, or because your silence means you are still accepted by others; but your soul ,and your inner child, will not be happy unless you speak up for yourself, or your beliefs.
Another tremendous avenue to improving physical and emotional problems is to take non-violent action to change the world. Volunteer work, writing letters to your local paper, signing petitions, or writing letters for cause are creative ways to help your inner child feel as if she/he is doing something to stop injustice. This can be a profound way to remove body memories in an instant because this kind of action will help your injured self to stop feeling like a victim.
It’s empowering to work against the iniquities of the world. Writing a letter for cause, sending a FAX to a state senator about an important issue, or pledging time to an organization are all strengthening acts of love for humanity, as well as for ourselves. Survivors who take action are allowing themselves to be in control. As children we could do nothing to help ourselves. Good deeds present us with the voice and power that we were not allowed to use when we were being abused.
When we were being victimized, no one spoke for us, protected us, or stood up for us. Now we can use non-violent action to defend the child within us, and to help guard all current victims and future victims who have no one to protect them or cry out for them.
Finding our voice, and then speaking the truth, means being brave enough to place our grain of sand out into the world. We can accomplish this in the form of public speaking, writing letters for cause, having articles published, becoming involved with volunteer work and by petitioning to create laws which effectively protect children.
Allowing the little one inside to stand up for herself/himself in a conversation, or having her/him write a letter for cause, is healing medicine because it gives her/him a voice. It is a matter of transforming anger into positive action and helplessness into powerful change.
Survivors who were threatened with death or harm if they reveal the secret might go through an increase of pain and discomfort if they choose to take on a large entity, like a corporation or the Government; but a negative experience can be addressed in therapy and worked through. It is imperative to listen to our bodies and never give in to the pain by becoming a wall-flower or by ignoring injustice because this can also cause physical and emotional discomfort, and you will never be healed. Always remember that psychosomatic symptoms are a cry for help from the child within.
Screaming in seclusion can release some rage. The woods, mountains, or a deserted beach are great for expelling anger, but make sure to go somewhere that no one will hear you, and scream as loudly as you can while running or walking fast. Push all that emotion out of you. This will help alleviate tension.
If you feel a moment of anger that you just cannot control, go ahead and shut all your doors and windows in your home and scream your head off. It may feel silly, or as if you have lost control, but it is healthy to occasionally scream out stored up frustration. If you have children, this could scare them, so I don’t recommend it if you are not alone. People who hold rage inside are the ones who become out of control in inappropriate situations, but screaming out rage all the time is also unhealthy. Rage must be expelled in therapy sessions, or through transformation of the emotion.
In the film, Forrest Gump, the character “Jenny,” had been sexually abused by her father and as an adult she stumbled upon the house where she had been abused years earlier. Jenny’s rage grew and she began to pick up rocks and throw them at the abandoned and worn down house. This was very healing for the character Jenny and she released a lot of rage in that moment. I do not suggest that someone destroy property with rocks, or risk injury to an animal or person. This is merely an example of a person allowing their inner child to expel what was corked up for many years.
Exercise Nature and Pets
Another formula to help diminish certain psychosomatic symptoms is exercise. Getting out in nature is the best remedy, but if you cannot find the time, or live in the city, then lifting hand weights in your living room or fast walking is great. Even a slow walk is better than nothing. Riding a bike can feel liberating when the wind is in your hair. It may even make the child in you feel free while she is riding the bike.
I highly recommend hiking and running, but you must be in good shape to start either one. If a physician has given you the okay, running can make you feel strong and can blow off anger. It works nearly every muscle of the body and is an excellent way to be fit and trim. You can run any time and most anywhere, but I only recommend running on dirt or grass because cement can hurt the knees.
Running can help to stimulate mental and emotional strength, even creativity and a better work-ethic. Hiking can get you deep into nature, which is always healing, and can work off anger as well. Just make sure you get a decent pair of running shoes or hiking boots.
While you run, hike, or walk, imagine that you are stepping on your abuser or anyone who protected him or her. While walking, you can push your foot into the ground in a strong way (as if they are tiny, and you are squishing them) and imagine emotionally pushing the anger out through your feet. This small action has the power to release energy stored in the body that might otherwise have turned into a body memory.
Regardless of what form of exercise you choose, remember to carry a form of protection, a whistle, and a cell phone for emergencies. Another very important tip is that even though you might not always feel like getting out for exercise, try to push yourself to do it. Most of the time you will be happy that you did. Just a short walk can uplift your soul and clear your head.
Anyone who has chronic fatigue syndrome knows that exercise can bring on heavy fatigue or other unbearable symptoms. If you have cfs (or cfids), do what you know is best for you.
Yoga is a wonderful way to expel some of those body memories. It is something you can do at home by yourself, and it is healthy in every way. There are plenty of yoga DVDs on the market to choose from.
Pet adoption might also be considered. Survivors of child abuse know better than anyone what abandonment, lack of love, and loneliness feels like. There are millions of animals in America’s shelters that need a good loving home. Many of these beautiful creatures can bring an abundance of joy and companionship to a healing survivor. Just remember that pet food costs money, and the new family member will eventually require veterinary care and have other needs, so adopt within your limits. Puppies are wonderful, but they are a full time job and can bring on stress.
Kittens and cats are easier and older dogs and cats always need someone to consider them as a pet because the kittens and puppies are usually adopted first, leaving the older animals to be put to sleep.
If you choose a dog, you must be prepared to spend time walking it, and money for training. If you have never owned a dog, you might consider a cat instead because dogs require a lot of time and energy, and older shelter dogs often have behavioral problems that can negatively affect a person who has a low tolerance for stress. If you choose to adopt a dog, you will need to seek guidance from a trainer or enroll your new friend in obedience classes.
Holistic Remedies for Body Memories
It is an individual choice whether or not to take pharmaceutical drugs for mental disturbances and psychosomatic problems, but in recent years, the side effects and adverse reactions from prescription drugs were a leading cause of death in the United States.
Drugs of any kind, as well as alcohol, only suppress the true problem. In my opinion, the person who uses chemical drugs to treat emotional and physical reactions to trauma and childhood pain will cause their subconscious to revolt and the problem will express itself in other ways.
If you listen to television advertisements for pharmaceutical drugs where the manufacturer claims the drug can treat problems that “coincidentally” have been linked to child sexual abuse, you will notice that the drug side-effects sometimes include things like, “obsessive sexual drive,” “compulsive gambling,” or “driving a vehicle without remembering doing so.” How terrifying!
Other side-effects are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, and a whole host of other problems. This is evidence that the drug only pushes the person’s pain into another part of the body. The drug might bring relief from one problem, but it can then create other problems, some, more serious psychologically driven impulses.
There were periods of time when my therapy could not deal with every symptom because I had far too many physical and psychological problems at one time, and I certainly could not afford therapy every day. So during this phase of healing, I found that some natural remedies decreased a few of my physical symptoms. The holistic treatments did not always completely remove the pain or discomfort, and I eventually developed immunity to the flower, herb, or vitamin… so hypno-therapy was the only ultimate solution for me. However, holistic remedies might provide some relief for some people for a period of time. I suggest finding a holistic M.D. who can prescribe a higher dose of the correct flower, plant, or herb for you in a pellet form.
But essentially, the mind is where the problem begins, so the mind is ultimately the only way to treat the root cause and to truly heal.
Watch What You Eat
There are a few life changes that can be made which can help an abuse survivor to feel better about themselves, relieve stress, clean out their bodies, and open their mind:
- Eat only organic foods. Avoid genetically modified organisms in your diet. These are found in most non-organic food sources. Almost all non-organic food found in the grocery store contains GMOs; but corn, soybeans, tomatoes, non-wild salmon, and potatoes are especially almost always genetically modified. If you cannot afford to buy organic food, at least eat organic meats, eggs, corn, corn oil, tomatoes, potatoes, soy, soy beans, soybean oil, soy milk, cotton seed oil, and canola oil. Avoid non-organic soy and corn products, cotton, potatoes, and canola products. Also avoid grain-fed beef and chickens because they are often fed GMO corn, and watch out for non-organic rice because according to the Washington Post and many other sources, there could be human genes inserted into non-organic rice.
- Stay away from non-organic red meat. It is often loaded with hormones and ant-biotics. Better yet, don’t eat red meat at all.
- Eat wild fish, not farm-raised.
- Eat more raw foods, and ease up on processed foods, junk food, fast food, white sugar, white flour, artificial sweeteners, and anything with high fructose corn syrup.
- Work towards giving up cigarettes and alcohol. Where there is a will, there is a way. A good hypnotherapist can help you with these addictions.
- Stay away from movies that are hard on the mind. Rent films that uplift your soul.
- Keep fresh flowers in your home.
- Remove all electrical appliances that are near your sleeping area. Move them across the room. Try to avoid having dirty clothes or laundry that needs to be put away in your bedroom. You can sleep much better in a bedroom that is organized, clean, and refreshing to the mind.
- Take Vitamin D every day, especially in the winter months, when the sun is on the other side of the hemisphere. The Vitamin D in sunshine boosts the immune system.
- Walk, ride a bike, hike, run, snowshoe, or roller-skate. Do outdoor activities instead of always going to the gym. Fresh air and sunshine (in moderation) are good for the body and mind.
- Lavender and dead sea salt baths just before bed can help you sleep, and during the day, they can relieve stress and tension.
Unfortunately, these methods can only offer some relief because without deep therapy, the memories will still be suffered through the body, mind, and emotions. What is not dealt with on the inside can only be temporarily subsided. Trauma and betrayal cannot be removed until the memories are transformed, and until the root cause is dealt with at the subconscious level.
Once the trauma is reprocessed into non-threatening material, and the root of the emotional trauma is dealt with, the somatic symptoms will vanish. As Anne Hart put it,“Pain without memory is replaced by memory without pain.”
Part One of this article can be read by clicking here.