Every person who has been sexually abused has the ability within themselves to rise above what has happened and transform their lives.
I find that most people who were sexually abused as children are people of unusual resilience. Many survivors are sensitive to others, truthful, insightful, and powerful human beings. They just need to find the person they were meant to be if they had not been abused. They need to remove what is blocking their path to emotional balance and true harmony with life.
Every survivor of child sexual abuse has the capability, as well as a right, to live their dreams and pursue their goals. But many of us were taught, or grew to believe, that we didn’t deserve to experience joy. Once the abuse stopped it was no longer the perpetrator or his facilitator who made us feel this way –it became ourselves.
Many of us inflicted self-punishment so harsh that we didn’t allow ourselves to experience any pleasure, or if we did, we anticipated something bad to happen, or for the good to be taken away.
Countless abuse survivors won’t seek help because they feel they don’t deserve to heal. Victims of child sexual abuse often feel they are defective, worthless, and they grow into adulthood carrying this myth like a fifty-pound rock on their back, and they refuse to allow the weight to drop because they erroneously feel unworthy to experience life to the fullest, and to be healthy and free.
All survivors of child abuse are equal to all other children of God and it is our God-given birth right to be free and joyful. We just have to learn to seek and accept help, and to know that healing isn’t just about us. When we heal, we offer the rest of humanity a chance to heal and to evolve.
Finding the True Self
The true self is the child who existed prior to being raped, molested, or physically assaulted. The adult survivor needs to retrieve that child.
The course of healing will be different for everyone because each of us is not only unique, but we were all violated in completely different ways. No two survivors are exactly alike, nor are their experiences. This is true, even if they came from the same home and were abused by the same perpetrator, in the same way.
My “false selves” were who and what I had been conditioned to be, and how the abuse had programmed me to react to the world. My false selves developed throughout childhood because of the incest and my dysfunctional family.
Once I began to find my one true self, I learned to look objectively at the unbalanced sides of me. Through my years of healing, I slowly began to observe the child in me who experienced the fear, anger, neediness, despair, betrayal and shame and how those parts of me were reacting destructively towards myself and others. These different aspects of my persona included the part of me that needed my family to be what they were incapable of becoming. A large part of my recovery involved healing that need.
The incest created different parts of my personality that created these false selves. My sub-personalities were people-pleasing, fearful, self-oppressive, and full of rage. My sub-personalities conformed to the family silence to gain their ‘love.’ My false selves feared punishment, carried much shame, and with the exception of sexual attention, those parts of me felt worthless.
(Please note this is not the same as Dissociative Identity Disorder (or known as Multiple Personality Disorder). DID is very uncommon, maybe even rare. All human beings behave differently around certain people, or when they are feeling sad, extra happy, or angry. This does not mean we have “multiple personality disorder.”)
The process of learning not to react to the world and to other people can take many years, but after removing the pain, a person can subsequently stop identifying with their reactive sub-personalities. They can reach a point where they are no longer affected by things that used to trigger the abuse issues.
When we begin to be at peace with ourselves, our beliefs, and our choices, without being affected by what others say or do, then we are on the road to healing and to creating our future goals. We cannot control the words or actions of other people. Nor can we stop the changes that take place every day in our world, but we can learn to control our reaction to them. It is our response to the world which causes our suffering, not what others think, do, or say. Knowing this truth is liberating, and this freedom is available to all human beings.
Psychotherapy helped me dissolve the false parts of my persona.
Anger, resentment, and rage… be it directed towards the self, or outwardly towards others, has to be dealt with and getting to the root of rage and anger is essential to healing.
We cannot heal what we do not face. Once we look the horrors and the feelings of degradation in the face, then, and only then can we transmute the pain into benign memories.
Transforming the Rage
What abuse survivors feel about their perpetrators is valid. They have every right to their anger because they can never completely regain their innocence. When a child’s sexual purity is defiled, it is gone forever. A survivor should never feel guilty about their anger, and they cannot be afraid to release whatever emotions come out in the privacy, safety, and intimate setting of a therapist’s office. We cannot carry the toxic waste of the past into our future. Anger and rage must be transformed.
For many people, these emotions might seem frightening or embarrassing but poisonous emotions need to be expelled. Survivors must know that they will not go to hell, they will not be punished, and nothing bad will happen to them if they release resentment from the unconscious and from their heart. On the contrary, extracting rage from the mind and body brings people closer to God.
The people who damaged the survivor don’t have to be present when the emotions are discharged. Survivors can scream and speak out in therapy or in nature, because they are only lashing out at the representation of the perpetrator; they are not striking out at another human being. (I will try and post a future article on ways to help expel anger)
When I first began having regression therapy, I was so afraid of saying anything negative about my parents. I feared God, and was terrified of punishment if I dared to express any true feelings. Liberation came when I realized that “honoring” our parents doesn’t mean adapting to dysfunction and silently complying with a crime. It also doesn’t mean that we have to be superficial on the outside, while silently hating our parents and suffering on the inside. It doesn’t harm anyone to cathartically discharge rage during a therapy session. Survivors should never be afraid to express themselves because the soul wants to be free from that hatred.
We don’t need to purposely be cruel or deliberately cause ugly scenes by lashing out in a face to face showdown with our abuser or family members. This kind of behavior goes against the harmony of life and will not heal a person. In therapy sessions (especially age regression hypno-therapy) a survivor can release the emotions that have been hiding inside for decades.
Discharging these energies will enable the survivor to change their reactions and emotions in their daily life, and at some point, they should be able to speak their truth openly to the people who hurt them, but without a need to cause harm. If anger surfaces and hidden emotions arise during the confrontation, that’s normal and not hateful. We just shouldn’t make it a habit to have these kind of outbursts with people.
Hypno-therapy regressions are like magic because after a session of releasing pain, a survivor can transform the memory into what they wish had happened, instead of being affected by what really did happen. I often ended my regressions by mentally picturing myself as a child dragging my father down to the police station and ripping off his badge and uniform so that he stood naked in front of the other police officers. Then I announced on the police loud speaker that he had been having sex with his daughter. I pictured the officers at the police department handcuffing and arresting him. After they booked him on child abuse charges, I often imagined him in a courtroom being sentenced to prison.
Eventually, I noticed that my regressions no longer concluded with sending my mother to prison. This was when I made room in my heart for forgiveness, instead of a need for revenge. In time I began to imagine my inner child pulling my mother by the arm and down the street to the church, and inside, I left her at the foot of the Altar. I then gave her to God. This was my way of saying that she needed to cleanse herself with Jesus, and that what she had done was out of my hands. I then turned away to find my perfect mother waiting for me at the end of the church aisle. My perfect mother was always imagined as myself, but a grown, strong, healed woman –who would forever defend my inner child.
Anger is a destructive energy if it is not channeled appropriately, and rage must be dealt with by driving it out of the mind and body in a healthy manner. We especially don’t want to take rage out on innocent people.
Many survivors deny they even carry anger, but the child inside, who is still enraged, does not like to be ignored. Certain aspects of the anger can remain hidden, or it can take an extremely long time to heal. Repressed rage can even cover up inner grieving that needs to be done, and unwarranted guilt can keep rage hidden.
Emotional rage is complex. Sometimes a survivor needs to transform guilt and shame before they can manage to be angry in any significant way. People who have been abused, need to move past the self-blame and recognize that the responsibility for the abuse lays solely on the perpetrator. (I will attempt to post an article on steps to overcoming guilt and shame)
There are reasons why deep anger may not be coming up consciously. Many survivors are still too afraid to show, or feel, their rage because they subconsciously fear punishment. If the perpetrator was an authority figure, and if they instilled threats, then the adult survivor might even fear death if they dare to be angry.
Other survivors are frightened of their own rage and worry about what they could do to others if they lose control. Those who grew up in a violent home might be afraid to become like their perpetrator.
In Behind the Playground Walls, the inability to feel rage is described as the child not being able to “own” his or her anger, and only being able to feel it somewhere within themselves like a “foreign object.”
Anger is a powerful and intense emotion that takes a very long time to weed out. It might never completely disappear, but any remaining negative energy can always be converted into positive action and can be utilized in constructive ways. Oftentimes anger becomes a spring board for taking peaceful action against injustice and oppression in the world.
The Wounded Self Often Prevents Healing
Facing the past was excruciating, but I would never go back to the prison that I endured prior to healing. I think that most people who avoid taking steps to heal, know deep inside that those steps will mean going through the emotional battle of suffering out the disease of abuse. Healing is not taking a magic pill and feeling better each day. Recovering from child sexual abuse means facing things that are so seemingly unbearable that many people choose instead to live with dysfunction and illness, while others would rather kill themselves than experience the pain of healing.
True recovery demands that a person come out of a place of being comfortably numb. It’s scary to deal with unfamiliar pain. Some people prefer habitual pain like substance abuse, disease, bad marriages, and dysfunctional relationships; but the only way out is through. There are no detours. The avoidance of healing means life-long suffering in a self-made prison. Every survivor has the ability to release themselves by turning their own key. Each human being has the capability to revive their deepest ambitions, to experience life to the fullest, and for their true self to finally emerge out of that captivity.
Many people who were sexually abused as children don’t take the steps to change because depriving themselves of health is a form of self-punishment. They subconsciously feel that something they have done means they deserve to suffer. They subconsiously punish themselves by not getting help. It doesn’t have to be that way. Each day is another chance to stop that false perception and to turn the key.