Healing from the Ravages of Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse runs rampant in today’s society, and its effects can be devastating. Recent statistics show that 25% of all young women and 20% of all young men are sexually abused by the age of 18. And this, they say, only represents the reported/documented incidences. While you may not have been personally affected by this type of abuse, chances are high that you know someone who has been, perhaps even your significant other, making this issue of paramount importance to the quality of your life.
There are no words to describe the devastating effects of sexual abuse, but I will try. As both a survivor of this all-too-closeted social issue, and a spiritual life coach who has witnessed the stories of numerous other survivors, I understand the impact this type of abuse can have on one’s life. I’ve listened to happily married women in their forties who are still afraid to sleep with their backs to the bedroom door for fear of who and what used to come through it. I’ve seen amazingly successful, beautiful women with zero self-esteem who feel that if they aren’t performing like sex goddesses, they are worth nothing. And I’ve encountered men who were sexually abused by religious clergy as children and whose need to disassociate themselves from emotional connections is so strong that they’ve ended up with severe sexual addictions.
My own life reads like a Danielle Steele romance novel gone bad. After an unending stream of sexually addicted men, some of whom I married, some of whom I didn’t, and many, many years of therapy, I had the good fortune of stumbling upon some of the most amazing spiritual teachers on the planet. Through my understanding of the Law of Attraction and the knowledge that we can only attract at the level we’re at, I knew I had to radically shake up my world. I had to say NO to what seemed like my natural instincts, but was actually a learned behavior, and stop allowing myself to date those all-too-attractive and ever-so-sexy Dean Martin–type womanizers. I had to dig deep within myself and try to find that still, small place within me that remembered what real love felt like. Once I finally found it and began projecting a new frequency out into the world, the healing began.
One of the hardest things to unlearn during this process is the belief that you are simply not enough—that you have to earn someone’s love. It was a belief I held for far too many years, a belief that permeated all of my male relationships. In fact, it wasn’t until the day before my father (who I must mention was not the perpetrator) made his transition that I realized I had spent my entire life trying to earn his love, when all I ever really needed to do was just be me. That’s all I ever, ever needed to do to be loved by anyone. I, like most abuse survivors, just had no reference point for that truth.
It took years to move past this issue, which impacted my life on nearly every level. When I look around and assess my life, I find myself with two adorable dogs, the most amazing friends in the world, and a career that’s much more of a calling than a job. For all of that, I am blessed and eternally grateful.
I also have no children, no husband, and no family. And on those days when even all my amazing friends and a life purpose I love can’t fill that void, I occasionally find myself getting angry about an injustice that happened long, long ago to a much younger girl who had no capacity to comprehend what was really happening and who unwittingly developed a very warped and skewed view of what should be one of the most blessed and sacred parts of our human existence.
There is no getting away from the fact that the impact of abuse penetrates the soul. It matters not whether that abuse is verbal, emotional, or sexual; the end result is something that must be addressed head on for a healing to occur. What most do not realize is that the perpetrator often suffers as much as the victim. Both suffer from guilt and shame, and both struggle with fear. Fear that it will happen again…fear that they will be found out…fear that their soul will never heal, not in this incarnation or in all of eternity.Compassion, both for ourselves and the other, is the only thing that can truly heal any injustice. And compassion, more than anything else, is what is needed most. While the victim may never forget the behavior, they must be able to forgive the person who inflicted it on them. The perpetrator, in turn, must be able to acknowledge they are having this experience for a reason, even if they don’t understand what it is, and find a way to forgive themselves in order for true healing to occur.