When it comes to healing, especially the Inner Child, one of most treacherous realms is working with childhood sexual abuse. Every workshop and sometimes in individual sessions, I have at least a handful of women and men who having experienced it, aren’t able to go past it.
As adult, they say it was in the past, “Why don’t you just move on”. As many victims are simply told so, not realising the consequences. The abuse thus gets suppressed, deep within and denied, but like any energy, it cannot be destroyed. That child may 4 or 8 year-old still keeps going through the pain, mental torture and trauma of abuse. Many victims are often triggered, that is when their abuse resurfaces, till then they keep wondering what is wrong with them. They all know something is.
Amongst common aftermaths of childhood sexual abuse (csa) that I have come across in my work are:
* Silence – I can’t tell anyone, what will they say or think, coming from social stigma around sexual abuse. Social and emotional isolation. Shame and family denial or lack of acknowledgment and redressal
* Confusion – was it my fault. What did I do wrong?
* Anxiety – Feeling unsafe in the world, weight problems – I want to hide, emotional eating. When will it happen again, how do I keep it a secret, what if they find out, what if the abuser talked around about me as easy prey. Sometimes panic attacks, nightmares etc.
* Emotional numbness – Fearful of experiencing the pain, victims tune out, till they are ready to deal with it; emotional disconnection from the self, also leads to inability to connect with joy or love and other positive emotions, plus love relationships feel empty.
* Anger – Most victims aren’t able to forgive the abusers, plus they see them leading normal ‘happy’ lives. Often known abusers have to be met at family events. Anger at the world, family and God. No one came for my rescue.
* Self-directed rage: It was my fault. Guilt, Self-critical nature and Self-hate. I deserved it. Looking for ways to punish oneself, self-destructive choices
* Powerless, aloneness, victim’s perspective towards all life events, self-pity
* Over thinking and over-analysis, lack of self trust – I have already made a mistake, I cannot make good choices, trust my inner judgment
* Sadness and depression coming from emotional isolation and self-repression
* Promiscuity – sexual deviance and obsessions, Uncontrollable sexual urges – A wounded inner child is in charge of sexuality. Often unreasonable, obsessive and stubborn like a child
* Dirty – Feeling unholy, lost innocence, sex is dirty. I’m dirty.
* Gender confusion – part of them like it, especially when abuser is of same sex
EVERY VICTIM IS UNIQUE, SO IS EVERY RECOVERY STORY
Most parents don’t discuss good touch and bad touch with children. Many even disbelief their own children, ignore, deny or worst still blame their children when they reveal. Especially girls. Boys have added burden of supposedly lose masculine power due to abuse, and fear of ridicule. This causes more isolation and trauma. Thousands of victims thus remain silent. The abusers scot-free, repeat offense and eventually lead respectful lives, leaving victims to simmer in unsaid rage.
Men and women respond differently to sexual abuse, more importantly every child responds differently to the situation it finds itself in. Most children become extremely fearful, hence remain fearful around sex and develop sexual problems. Some freeze, not knowing what is happening. Most victims feel ashamed, dirty and blame themselves for abuse. “I must have done something”, “It’s my fault”, is the common belief here, leading to extreme self-hate and self-destructive behaviours.
The point is it is never the victim’s fault. No matter how willing the victim might appear. It is abuse. An adult has full responsibility of the crime.
Some children, who are victims of gradually grooming or seduction by the abuser, find it particularly hard to overcome. Often the abuser is someone known, a relative or a parent and often very manipulative. They made to feel party to the crime, an accomplice, hence tricked into keeping it a secret. Most children keep it so for years often decades, while inside their minds are playing havoc with them. They grow up to be extreme shy and introverted, lacking social skills. As they seldom feel safe in adult company.
A boy fearing the abuser has spread the word about him, later became reclusive, experienced emotional numbness, and lack of connection with people especially his wife,who had no clue about the abuse or its effects. Till he revealed it to me in a session, “I have never told this to anyone in three decades.” During age regression he even remembered as a 3-year old his ‘favorite’ uncle making him masturbate one night. But I really liked him”, he exclaimed, so deep were the memory suppressed. Because in day time, he was really pampered by the same uncle.
So for victims, in large or busy families, abuse is the first time they receive attention in life. So confuses it for love. And miss the high, even when the abuse ends, either by itself or when they stop it. Thus keep repeating the pattern of abusive and obsessive relationships, seeking love in all wrong or unsafe relationships, an echo of abuse. Till a healing intervention takes place, in a non-judgmental environment, without blame or labelling the inner child who was still innocently looking for love.
A girl recalled how even at age 4 she remembered walking into her Uncle factory, to look for the man who gave her “so much love”. However she was disappointed to find the blank look in his eyes. For him, she was just another victim. Two decades on, she still looks for love in risqué relationship, with troubled men and bad boys. Though she gets hurt each time, she was unable to break the pattern, despite having a steady and devoted boyfriend. In safe relationships, she experienced lack of libido. In such cases, the inner child, the girl at age 4 has to be told gently, that it was abuse, and not love, in various ways. Till it is driven home.
Many abuse victims’ feel as if they have a broken soul compass, they can’t trust themselves anymore, their choices are all bad, and they wait others to make choices for them, thus perpetuating the disempowerment. Everything in the life is seen from the perspective of abuse, life before and after abuse. Safe or unsafe.
Sexual initiation cannot be undone; it is plug that is switched on only once. Many victims become promiscuous teenagers and adult as they are looking for love in fearful relationship hoping for different outcome or get the power back, lost as a fearful child. They become extremely controlling and vicious to the same gender as the abuser, just like some are extremely fearful, either of all men or all women.
What confuses a child more is the bodily response. A son of busy parents, who was groomed by his servants, started looking forward to his encounters, even though he was fearful and nervous through them. The strange pleasure he experienced was a lure he couldn’t resist. Gradually became confused about his sexual orientation. He even tried settling in as a homosexual, but couldn’t settle completely owing to fear involved in sex. When a child abused by adults of both genders things get bit far more complicated, as the inner child is fearful of both genders. This might lead to degenerative sexual habits or obsessions as wounded inner child is controlling sex life, without boundaries or healthy limitations.
Finally, constant sadness, hopelessness and depression are common fallouts. And yes loss of faith. As one child put it, “For me God died that day.”
Luckily, there is light at the end of such a dark night!
In childhood sexual abuse, Inner Child healing takes on an important role, something regular talk counselling cannot achieve. The child is healed when we enter the subconscious mind, and retrieve not just the child from the memory, but the soul fragment, lost at the moment. The memory is reprogrammed, in such a way that they child gets his or her lost power back and has a new reference point for the past. After counselling by the adult self, the young child within can feel safe once again, and heal the broken compass.
Only then the brokenness, every victim feels invariably goes away. Only then the victim, often a 6-10 year old or a teen can be told, “It’s over!” You are safe now. The adult self now has the responsibility to make the fearful younger self feel safe, whole and loved again.
Next important step in getting a closure is forgiveness, to free ourselves completely of all energy residues and karmic cords. Not to make it right for the abuser, they will anyway undergo karmic consequences, in some lifetime or another. Aversion is also a connection. Freedom comes from dropping everything. The ultimate radical acceptance response I have heard from a survivor was, one day I could see how my abuser was a victim of his own darkness. My abuse had little to do with me. Just a train wreck rapidly running off track, and I happened to be in the way.”
Painful, yes but not irredeemable. Miraculously when we offer redemption we too get the same. Freedom from self-blame or blaming God. It just happened and now it over! Getting impersonal is fastest way to recover self-worth, as you realise it was not about you. What you do with it, makes or breaks a life.
You are sacred no what you go through in life. Your light might dim, but it’s there. Always. Thus begins not just a recovery, but a spiritual quest for the light eternal.
Gradually the pattern of self-abandonment has to be dropped by the adult self, by taking care of inner child each time it feels nervous, fearful or unloved. The answer as with most healing journey is self-love.
It is possible to have well-adjusted life after abuse recovery, rediscover the sacred nature of sex once again, and yes innocence. It takes time, and effort but healing is possible. And the old stigma of “damaged good” can be dropped as the victims realise, recovery is more of spiritual journey. They realise their essence is pure light, and light cannot be harmed. Ever.
Thus healing becomes about getting in touch with the part of you which is unblemished and eternal.