For over 11 years now, I've continued to be passionate in my work as a Clinical Hypnotherapist with a fulltime practice. And I’m able to look back on the many issues that I’ve helped clients work through. And one of these issues is Sexual Abuse. It’s been a stand-alone concern or grouped into other problems that actually go hand in hand with sexual abuse, such as low self esteem, relationship issues, smoking, anger management, etc. My courageous clients sought help in order to make peace with their past. They came to me still dealing with the effects of having lost their innocence as children at the hands of fathers, uncles, cousins or trusted family friends.
At the Health Sciences North annual general meeting in June, 2015, a pediatrician said at least 30% of Canadian children suffer sexual abuse. Dr. Nicolas Steinmetz said one-in-three girls are sexually abused in Canada. He says the number for boys is one in eight. Unfortunately, this indicates that these children were traumatized and will hopefully seek help in the future to rid themselves of the shame, guilt and helplessness they carry into adulthood.
As hypnotherapist, I've helped sexual abuse survivors that didnt always remember their abuse. And yes, it has come up in therapy as a buried event because it was SO hurtful that the mind kept it hidden. And I’m one of those people. Through working on a seemingly unrelated issue, I recalled the sexual abuse by a trusted family member at the age of 5 years old. I tried to deny it, to re-bury it, but I couldn’t deny that I always subconsciously knew it was there and it explained so much of how I felt about myself and choices I made as a teenage and adult. I also have to say that I don't go LOOKING for sexual abuse if it's not a certainty. I stay true to whatever the feelings are in relation to the issue a client comes to work on and we let that lead the way.
If you're reading this, you too, recall being sexually abused or suspect it and my purpose, if given the opportunity to partner with you, is to help you to move from victim to victor, to not only be categorized as one who survived childhood sexual abuse but one who thrives in spite of it! It’s not a one step process. There's no magic pill. It involves a multitude of techniques by a well-trained Hypnotherapist, and I don’t say that lightly. This is serious and painful work! But the rewards are life-changing and freeing!
Let me share with you what I do to help recover past memories and rebuild your life:
Uncovering memories: The power of Regression Therapy
Regression Therapy involves using the focused mind state, called Hypnosis, to access past memories. And by the way, this state is natural...like when your mind drifts yet you're aware of where you are. I guide you to connect with your subconscious mind which protects all of your memories permanently. It forgets nothing. It’s the logical/analytical mind that forgets. By working with the feelings you're struggling with today, such as shame, helplessness, stuck, trapped, anger, frustration and sadness, we can use those feelings as a torch to light the way into the past. We may come up with resistance. Sometimes, as I did, clients ask themselves how this could be true, if they’re making it up. A father/brother/uncle would never do that to him/her; he loved him/her. I encourage clients to stay true to feelings as we continue to work through it. Not easy but it’s what’s needed.
Child Rescue Tthrough Absolution from Feeling Responsibility and Guilt/Shame
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. It's your Inner Child who was helpless to stop the sexual abuse, and took on the ‘fault’ for the abuse. Because the subconscious mind is not locked in the now, wherever you are in your imagination, it believes is real. It takes you to those memories it recalls and offers them to you for healing. You'll have the opportunity to connect with your hurt inner child. This is the beginning of building self trust. I'll help guide you to build a connection with your inner child so that we can educate her/him as to the rights of the child to be free from abuse. That it was never his/her fault! That it was a betrayal by the abuser and that this was not love!!! Children are often sure they must have done something very bad to bring the abuse on. We need to show her/him that no child deserves to be mistreated. And that the 'secret' needs to be told!
You have to become your Child’s ally and advocate. And that’s not always easy. You may not connect to your inner child at first because to do so would be to admit it happened OR have to relive it all. But the child wants to be heard and comforted! The central issue at stake is bond-creation between you and your Inner Child to give the child a renewed sense of security or perhaps, a sense of security they never experienced in their young lives. I spend a lot of time helping you both connect, to SEE each other, to reach out for each other.
Expression of Feelings
In my office, I’ve created a safe haven for you to go where it hurts. I'm sure you may be cringing at the thought of feeling and showing your sadness, anger, frustration and helplessness. I get that. But it’s imperative to healing. Buried feelings never die. You may numb them out but they’re still there, showing up in your everyday life, seemingly unconnected to the past. Releasing trapped emotions does give you relief and the ability to get clarity. All feelings are short-lived unless they're resisted.
There is no judgment in my workspace. I encourage the snot, tears and angry shouting. Liken it to giving yourself back your voice, the voice that was stifled as a child. Your Inner Child gets to finally feel her/his feelings, say what s/he needs in order to express feelings to take her/his power back.
Disassociation and Parts Therapy
Most clients want to disassociate from their feelings. And accessing them sometimes is like pulling teeth. So I bring in another technique called Parts Therapy which essentially is working with the subconscious part of your mind that represents the abused child. It’s like a go-between - a part that was formed who’s job it is to protect your inner child from further hurt. It may be the part that has wreaked havoc in your relationships, that disallows you to stop smoking, lose weight, and/or from letting anyone in too closely.
Spending Time with the Inner Child Between Sessions
I encourage you to spend time with their Inner Child. It’s invaluable in building the bridge of self healing. Imagining her, holding her and reassuring her that she’s a good little girl (or boy) who deserves to have fun, be free and safe in the knowledge that’s she’s lovable, good and whole. I still reassure my own 5 year old that she’s safe and loved and amazing!
Acceptance and Forgiveness
This part isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Forgiveness of the abuser? Hell no! Actually, Hell yes! It’s what sets you free. Once the reframing at the child's perspective and your adult perception takes place, and there is love between you, then forgiveness is the final step to healing. It’s NOT forgiveness that in any way condones the abuse nor what happensed Hell no! It’s the understanding that you can finally leave the trauma behind to set yourself free! Holding on to the negative feelings doesn’t affect anyone but the one internalizing them. This is empowerment in action.
I hope you seek out help. Consider Hypnotherapy as a viable way to take your life back.
The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse 20th Anniversary Edition Ellen Bass