October 6th, 2015 is my 9th Anniversary doing the work I do in my 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, etc.
My courageous clients sought help in order to make peace with their past. They come 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 per cent 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.
"If they all had meningitis or something, there'd be panic in the streets. But this goes totally under the radar. Nobody knows about it.". The statistics are probably higher because sexual assault is under-reported, he added.
Unfortunately, this indicates that these children will hopefully seek help in the future to rid themselves of the shame, guilt and helplessness they carry into adulthood.
It’s estimated that one out of three girls, and at least one out of seven boys, are sexually abused by the time they reach the age of eighteen. This means that as someone working as hypnotherapist, I’m already working with sexual abuse survivors who may or may not remember their abuse. And yes, it had often 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.
My purpose when working with clients is to help them 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. It involves a multitude of techniques by a well-trained Hypnotherapist, and I don’t say that lightly. This is serious and painful work!
Let me share with you what I do to others recover their lost childhood and rebuild their lives:
Uncovering memories: The power of Regression Therapy
Regression Therapy involves using the focused mind state, called Hypnosis, to access past memories. I guide clients to connect with their Subconscious mind which protects all memory permanently. It forgets nothing. It’s the logical/analytical mind that forgets. By working with the feelings experienced today, such as shame, helplessness, trapped, anger 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 /himher; 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. Often a person’s Inner Child, the child who was helpless to stop the sexual abuse, takes 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. My clients get to connect with their hurt little girl or boy. This is the beginning of building self trust. I help guide clients to build a connection with their inner child so that we can educate her 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 Adult 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 them that no child deserves to be mistreated.
The Client has to become the Child’s ally. And that’s not always easy. A client may not connect to his inner child because to do so would be to admit it happened OR relive it all. But the child wants to be heard and comforted! The central issue at stake is bond created between the Adult and the 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 them 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 a client to be able to go where it hurts. Yes, no one wants to feel nor show their sadness, anger, frustration nor look helpless. I get that. But it’s imperative to healing. Buried feelings never die. We may numb them out but they’re still there, showing up in our everyday life, seemingly unconnected to the past. Releasing trapped emotions does give us relief and the ability to get clarity. All feelings are short-lived unless we resist them.
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. The Inner Child gets to finally feel his feelings, say what he needs in order to express his feelings to take 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 the clients mind that represents the abused child. It’s like a go-between but who’s job it is to protect the child from further hurt. It may be the part that wreaks havoc in relationships, that disallows the client to stop smoking, from losing weight, from letting anyone in too closely.
Spending Time with the Inner Child Between Sessions
I encourage clients 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 who deserves to have fun, be free and safe in the knowledge that’s she’s lovable. 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 and adult perception takes place, and there is love between them, then forgiveness is the final step to healing. It’s NOT forgiveness that in any way condones what happens. 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.
If you are someone you know has expereinced childhood sexual abuse, 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