There are days when I feel angry by how pervasive sexual abuse is in this world. It is a symptom of a very big problem and the sheer prevalence of it shows just how far we have to go in healing our planet. It’s so common it feels almost like a rite of passage–which is crazy! I know we can do better than that. Who created that rite?
Every time I hear a person’s story of sexual abuse, assault or trauma, (and that’s pretty often), my heart cracks open and I’m seeing the healing they want, the emotions they feel and where they have gotten stuck. I’m also seeing the bigger picture of what this experience could be about for them and how they might use it to propel themselves forward in their life and back towards connection to theirself and others.
So much is knotted up in an experience of sexual trauma: how you relate to fear, to your body, to lovers, to sex, to power, to sexual agency, to self-care, to your ancestors. Often, patterns of abuse have long histories in families and the women on the other side of the veil want you to heal as much as you need it…because it also heals them. They didn’t get to heal while they were alive. They took it to their death with them. Those women show up to do the work with us, because they never had the opportunities themselves.
“Brave Miss World” Poster
Many people in our generation will end the cycle of violence in their families. They will heal it. That is absolutely inspiring to me. When they end it, they will face their fears, cease being the victim, and step into their true place of sexual agent and decision-maker over their own body. They will demand and reclaim their body, psyche and whatever else might have been harmed or lost. They will step into true sexual empowerment out of this trauma.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of seeing a new film Brave Miss World, the story of Miss Israel Linor Abargil who was abducted and brutally raped and stabbed at age 18, just six weeks before she won Miss World. She spent ten years healing and then came out to the world about her experience and began to travel all over the world listening to women’s stories and helping them heal. Her story is inspiring and beautiful, a testament to the power of her spirit and her resolve to change the world.
I can’t recommend this film enough. Besides her own healing, what is so important about it is how she helped women come out of their shame and isolation by listening to them, by being in it with them. How she didn’t shy away from challenging them not to stay in their victim, but to speak up and move into a new place of power with their voices and choices.
She also got re-triggered and had a hard time taking it all in after a while. The stories wore her down. It takes a strong spirit to do such work. Here I am, poised to offer my first Healing Sexual Trauma Weekend, watching her do her work, knowing there is so much to be done…and I am here to do my small part.
Not all of us will come out about our sexual trauma. That’s a hard thing to do. But her point was apt. She would say to the women she spoke with, “Why shouldn’t you talk about it? You’ve done nothing wrong? You have nothing to be ashamed of!” Her family had a hard time with her journey, it was hard for them to talk about….but ultimately, they were supportive. Every one of us needs that.
And, your trauma won’t heal if you keep it to yourself, keep it in. It must be shared. Some people make art out of their experiences. Some write about them. Some share testimonials or teach about it. Some work for rape crisis centers and help women that way. Some do lots and lots of therapy and bodywork to excavate the anger, grief, tightness, distrust and stuck energy from their bodies. You do it how you need to. Get support from people who can really hold you there. Find ways to be vulnerable so that you can let go. You’ve carried it long enough, however long it’s been.
The truth is that you can’t fully step into your own sexual empowerment until you heal this. It is a teacher for you and a way for you to get the healing you need. As you do, you can step into a new way of being in your body, spirit, and psyche that really honors the whole of your experience and that doesn’t keep you defining yourself as a victim. You are far more than that.
If you have experienced sexual trauma, I wish you all the support you need to heal. Here is to healing the world of this disease. Only WE can do it.
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