January 25, 2018

How Healing Sexual Trauma could be Humanity’s Key to Freedom.

I am passionate about healing sexual trauma. I believe it is the key to true freedom on this planet.

From the darkest dark comes the greatest light. And the wound of sexual trauma holds some of the darkest stuff in our collective psyche. And it’s rampant, as we’ve seen through the #MeToo movement.

Sexual trauma causes people to become disconnected from their core. They are made to feel bad, wrong, and worthless; that they are only there to be used for someone else’s pleasure.

Sexual trauma often creates unbearable levels of shame in someone’s system. And, unlike remorse, shame is never a constructive feeling. Shame is a giant black hole that sucks away life.

Sexual trauma cripples people.

People die from sexual trauma. They often commit suicide. This wound can be a living hell.

Symptoms of this trauma can include: eating disorders, paranoia, insomnia, depression, self-harm, anxiety, body hatred, disassociation, addictions, chronic fatigue, subsequent abusive relationships, and money issues (as a mirror of their low sense of worth).

There is often a lack of boundaries—not being aware of other people’s boundaries, and/or attracting people who constantly break theirs. If it’s not a total lack of boundaries, it’s barriers: inflexible walls that are designed to stop anyone from getting in and hurting them ever again.

Sexual trauma isolates people.

It is some of the most disabling trauma anyone can go through.

In her book Vagina: A New Biography, Naomi Wolff describes an experiment done by scientists. A lineup of women who had been through sexual trauma mixed with women who hadn’t. The scientists blindfolded the women, and then gently pushed them physically.

What they found was: the women who had not been through assault held strong, keeping their balance. The women who had been through trauma, however, were easily toppled. They physically wobbled or fell.

Sexual trauma literally knocks away someone’s sense of self at the root of who they are.

It traps people in a cage of suffering and shame. It is very hard to be truly connected to yourself as an individual and contribute to society when this trauma is so active.

The only way to become a powerful, free individual, is by moving through this trauma and healing it. I’m not minimizing this journey to wholeness. I’ve been through this experience myself.

It isn’t easy, but it is so rewarding.

It is why I now work with women who are living through this trauma. I believe that the darker the challenge, the stronger the promise of empowerment and freedom on the other side.

It is possible.

But what happens on a collective level when a large portion of society holds this kind of trauma?

(I am speaking here to women who have been the recipient of sexual abuse from men, as I work with women. So this is the area I feel qualified to write about. I want to acknowledge all the men and non-binary folk who have also been through this trauma. Their stories are equally as important.)

Gender Wars.

“Men are objectifying pigs, and women are raging man haters.”

Why are we at this place in society where this attitude is so common?

I’m going to give a bit of a crude breakdown of what happens in social dynamics when this kind of trauma is prevalent. Obviously it’s more complex, but please stick with me.

Often, this abuse is internalised and projected onto all men:

All men are unsafe.
All men are abusers.
All men are potential rapists.

We know this is true, because it’s spouted on many renowned feminist websites.

Often, as an unconscious way to control the “threat” (the men), these women then resort to the emasculation of men. Belittling and cutting them down from their healthy power.

The worst piece is that these women often find themselves attracted to unhealthy men. Because that’s what the imprinting of their abuse tells them “sex” and “love” are.

So their unconscious stories of “all men are assholes” becomes true. Time and again. Which, I know, really hurts!

What happens when men are emasculated?

Many men, when shamed and cut down because of the sex they we born with, go into rebellion. They objectify; they close their hearts. Eventually, if they experience it enough, they stop caring about women.

This is the attitude that creates excuses for treating women badly.

Objectification = Emasculation.
Emasculation = Objectification.

And because everyone is placing the blame, the cycle continues.

I want to be clear: if you have been through trauma, it is not your fault. It does not excuse someone else’s actions. But it is your responsibility, as a self-responsible adult, to heal yourself.

And I want to wave some pom-poms over here and tell you, “You can do it!” Seeking help to deal with the things that have happened to us is one of the most courageous moves anyone can make.

When we confront the things that scare us, they lose their power.

We learn how to love our bodies, find confidence, and to know ourselves. We stop having the same painful experiences sexually, romantically, and societally. We no longer attract those experiences, because we’ve healed the wound.

Society is created of individuals. We need free individuals for a free collective. And when we have that, imagine the unity, liberation, respect, and peace we will live in—together.

This gender war thing will stop.

From both sides.

We will live in a world of healthy power dynamics and deep respect for sexuality.

It is important to share the stories of the #MeToo campaign.

But the most important thing we can do is:

Heal ourselves.
Become free.

And, we must.

It’s perhaps the biggest wound in the human psyche, which means it holds the greatest rewards, for us as individuals, and as a collective.

If you have been through this kind of trauma, please know you are not alone. And for your own sake, please seek out someone qualified to help you.

Someone who knows how to work with sexual trauma.

Please don’t go to some self-professed “shaman” who wants to heal you with his wand of light (his glorified penis)!

Go see a therapist who rocks your world and who you trust.

You can be free of the pain that cages you!

And when all of us are doing that as individuals, that’s how we’ll find our collective freedom.

Let’s burn bright from our heaviest dead wood.

You can do it!

Together, we all can.




Author: Courtney Maria Halsted
Image: Unsplash/Caju Gomes
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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