© 2005 Evelyn Shakespeare.
I have decided to end the last chapter and begin this chapter with the quote
"You were abused on many levels and healing must take place on many levels as well" (Bass & Davis)
I decide to emphasis this quote again to try to dispel the public's perception that counselling is all the treatment that rape survivors need to heal and recover. I can remember so many people who would automatically ask me "are you getting counselling?" when I told them I had been raped. It was like a stock standard response that usually meant that they didn't have to do or say anything more, because, I was getting counselling and that's all that I needed. Right? In my experience, counselling was extremely valuable, but unfortunately, the reality is that SASS are extremely busy services with the rising sexual assaults occurring to women and children it is likely that SASS can only provide 12 months of counselling. I am extremely grateful to the amazingly wonderful, kind and wonderful women of SASS because they make a huge difference to survivor's lives as they listen and support our unbearably painful experiences that most other people do not want to hear. Remember that it takes 3 - 10 years for survivor's of rape to heal and recover. Is it OK to leave women without any further means of further support and healing from this traumatic experience? I think it's not OK.
I was abused on many levels, for example, verbally, physically, sexually, spiritually, emotionally, my choices, control and power was taken away from me, I was exposed to violence and aggression, I was forcibly imprisoned against my will and my body was battered, bruised and I was violated against my will. As a result I was shocked and traumatised and my body held cellular memories of the rape and triggers would trigger my cell's memories of the event. My body's to response to these triggers usually caused shaking, trembling, feeling nauseated, crying, not being able to breathe, wanting to be invisible, severe premenstrual symptoms and body tension. So it makes sense that healing must take place on many levels as well. I suggest that survivor's of rape find methods that they believe will help them to heal and recover. I basically received suggestions from friends or professionals and I followed my intuition in regard to what I thought would help and most of the time I didn't really know how or why it could help. I just had to trust that whatever I chose would help.
In my chapter "Frozen with Fear" I begin to describe the body's response to shock and trauma and now I am going to share with you what forms of body therapy I used to help myself heal and recover. If anything appeals to you, then trust your intuition. Patricia Weaver Francisco's book "Telling: A memoir of rape and recovery" describes how
'Thankfully, among therapists who treat rape, incest and battering survivors, bodywork is beginning to be seen as a companion to talk therapy. It's my hope that these techniques will be given a chance, not just by professionals but also by people like me, wounded skeptics" (1999:151).
In the early months after the rape my friend Mary suggested that I go for some massage and she even suggested a male massage therapist. I knew that I definitely would not feel comfortable with a male massage therapist, but I remembered Daisy who I had massage sessions with in the past. I knew that I would feel safe enough to be vulnerable and open with Daisy to gain maximum benefit. I know that Daisy will able to work with me on both the physical and emotional levels at the same time. Two months following the rape I go for a massage with Daisy, as I knew I wouldn't feel safe with anyone else. I arrived trying to hold back my tears, however, the tears were barely containable, but the floodgates of tears open up once Daisy decides to ask me "what is wrong?" I tell Daisy what happened and she tailored the massage to my needs - it is called 'shock and trauma massage therapy'. It was so amazing, painful and scary all at the same time as once again I had to negotiate that journey into the unknown.
Daisy got me to focus on my body and gave me instructions that I was not to drift away from my body. As Daisy gently massaged my body, I could feel intense pain in the middle of my lower back that triggered crying and sobbing. Everywhere hurt and I could feel all this weight on my shoulders, neck and back. At one stage I found myself rocking, later I am shivering uncontrollably and I feel the wave ripple through me.
Then I sense pain in my lower abdomen, Daisy puts her hands there, then I'm in the throws of this building, intense and overwhelming contraction that would build up, peak, ease and build up again. It was so painful I could feel my stomach contracted to my backbone, my legs contracted and my toes curled. All this time I am groaning and saying "Oh God", "Jesus" and "It hurts". My body has a mind of it's own and I have no choice but to go with it. It's so exhausting. Daisy then got me to breathe in, but focus on letting all the breath out. It got to the stage where I felt it all coming out, almost like I felt like I was vomiting it all up. It felt like I was trying to get the evil of him leave me. After all those contractions I can still feel it in my abdomen and back. Daisy reminds me that the contractions were about my body trying to get rid of something. My body was trying to get rid of the memories of the rape that were held in my body's cells, called cellular memory.
I am so grateful for my insight into needing this therapy and Daisy being able to help me. I feel so much better, lighter and more like myself. I go for a walk along the beach - the birds are singing, the waves are crashing, children are playing in the water, the sun is shining and the mountain is covered in snow. I feel grateful because I now have body awareness. Although I am journeying into the unknown, I am releasing the shock and trauma and the cellular memories of the rape from my body and it feels so much better afterwards.
A couple of weeks after my first massage I am feeling very tired, wondering if I can continue to work through this without a break from work and my body feels as if it is in need of another massage with Daisy. At the next massage session with Daisy we start the massage by chatting about lots of issues and Daisy suggests that I sleep if I want to as I am tired, but there is fat chance of that happening. I realise that the middle of my back is a trigger point as soon as Daisy comes near that point I resolve into crying and sobbing. Daisy asks me why this reaction is occurring and I realise it is happening because my body is remembering him pushing me backwards over the kitchen bench! I am willing to trust my body to do what it needs to do to deal with this. Daisy checks that I am OK; she says that we cans stop if I need to, but asks me not to leave my body. We keep working together, I am aware that my knees are locked together and at one stage Daisy puts a pillow between my knees and I'm saying, "I don't think I can do that" while pushing the pillow away.
I am aware of the pain being in my back, then it radiates to my hip and leg that is busy shaking out and releasing all this pent up energy from the rape. I say, "Get out, fucking get out!!!!!" I even hear myself making pushing sounds trying to get him out of me. Gosh, it sounds like I was in labour and giving birth! I can tell you that it felt like I was giving birth too. At one stage I am not breathing and Daisy checks what is happening and I say I can't breathe, just like I could not breathe that night. I remember how soothing it felt to rock. God, I remember the pain moving into my chest, right in the middle of my chest bone and it felt awful. The massage reminded me that I still have more unfinished work to do. I then have a shower after the massage and it feels so good to feel all this pent up energy being released down the drain and to reconnect with my body feeling the shower head's powerful spray on my body. Afterwards Daisy makes the comment that I am dealing with this with "amazing awareness", but I know I couldn't do all this if I didn't feel safe, I know I trust and feel safe with Daisy and I trust myself. I am practising what I preach, "I can do this". My body and I are working together to do this and I am willing to explore the unknown by doing this body work especially if it is going to help me to heal and recover.
[The type of massage therapy Daisy does is sometimes called craino sacral work.]
JIN SHIN TARA
The book "We are all in shock" by Stephanie Mines, 2003 describes how we are all in shock from a multitude of experiences and trauma that threaten to overwhelm us and how we need tools to help us overcome the shock and trauma. This is beautifully described in this quote
"It is now known that each generation has the ability to heal the wounds of previous generations. We must be willing, however, to visit our old wounds to do this healing, or our children will then have to carry on those burdens. We have the capability to stop the patterns of suffering for our children, we simply need to be brave enough to take the step" -quote by Sobonfu E Some (Mines, 2003:15).
I discover that domestic violence is a double shock as the first shock comes from the perpetrator's aggression and violence and the second shock occurs when the chosen targets (the woman and children) see their own weakness in response to the perpetrator's violence and aggression. I see patterns in my own life emerging while growing up with domestic violence I felt isolated, immobilised and I didn't feel that I had a voice. I was hiding a secret and it is a secret that I don't even remember to this day and I wonder was it so shocking and traumatic that I have stored it into my unconscious mind? I have pretty well disassociated from my childhood and I have a handful of memories of the violence, so I know it existed. Yet my body remembers and patterns of suffering have continued into my life. I even remember my mum saying that she went to bed a night with a knife under her pillow! Strange how I should get raped by a violent and aggressive man who used a knife to subdue me!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I tried the Jin Shin Tara that is the tool that Mines (2003:20) recommends to use to help resolve shock with your own hands, known as energy medicine, where you touch particular points, meridians, to "stimulate neurochemical c hange, awakening neurotransmitters to help free you from the residual tensions of shock" (Mines, 2003:103). I tried Jin Shin Tara work on 'speaking up' pulse points as "the simple expression of personal truth is silenced by shock" (Mines, 2003:124). The impression I get from using this point is that I need to speak up about what he did to hurt me. During the rape I been focusing on trying to breathe, so it is no wonder that I have been unable to speak up yet. I decide to do some more work with Jin Shin; this time I work on the 'lungs' and 'intestine' meridians. The intestine meridian was a real trigger - once again I was doubled up, my breathing would be short or I would be unable to breathe at all. I felt those contractions, I would feel the pain in my chest and it hurt so much. I was crying with tears rolling down my face and I was crying out in pain. Oh my God it still hurt so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I find that the body spasms occur spontaneously while at home especially when I am in bed at night. My whole leg spasms, I am conscious of my head saying, "Ok, ok, ok", then "Go, go, go, go" and when the spasm is released I relax. I sense the relief. I know I need to organise another appointment with Daisy as my body tells me so. Mines (2003:95) describes how a patient named Gabriel had been riding his bicycle when he hit a car - he went through the windscreen and sustained spinal injuries. Gabriel was given a 1% chance of walking again after he woke from a 3-day coma. Mines describes part of Gabriel's treatment for the shock following his accident,
"Gabriel's legs moved involuntarily during the treatment, and he tried to apologize for these spasms. I told him they were important demonstrations of the healthy release of action that was incomplete from the time of the accident when he could not protect or defend himself from harm. This seemed to relax him enough to return to the twilight state where he could restore himself from shock." (2003:95)
Mines (2003:96) describes how Gabriel learnt acceptance of the accident and his physical paralysis, but he found that with music, writing and singing his personal truth, and the love and support of his family, he has overcome his spiritual paralysis.
At another massage with Daisy I could still feel the pain in my back, but it wasn't such a strong trigger nor as painful, but the pain seem to travel to my knee this time. While Daisy massages my back I am very aware that the touch is gentle and different to how he touched me, but at the same time, I am apprehensive and I am unable to let my guard down to relax or enjoy it. At times it feels like broken glass under my skin, so exquisitely painful. Daisy is massaging my belly, but I am busy protecting my breasts. Daisy moves to massage my shoulders while I continue to protect my breasts, and we realise that my right shoulder comes forward in a protective position. Daisy said "you can enjoy this you know". It's kind of difficult to enjoy anything when you have experienced rape!!!!! I am still aware of my knees being locked together for obvious reasons. For something like massage that is not a lot of hard work, it is tiring and exhausting work.
Nearly 6 months following the rape I develop chronic sinusitis. Mary reckons that my sore throat could be about my body needing nourishing. So as well as doing my reading, diary writing and art work, I picked myself some flowers, went for a walk on the beach and even did some yoga. Soon after I see my GP who I describe as being wonderfully supportive, positive and absolutely confident that I have the ability to heal and recover from this. My GP provides me with a certificate for sick leave while I try to recover from the exhaustion of the last 6 months. We discuss how my body is having difficulty coping with this, how I must stop and rest or I will become really sick and how I have been working so hard, so intensely, that my body had to say "enough is enough!" so I had better listen and respond to my body's needs.
I quickly make an appointment with Daisy given how my health has been affected. This massage was different and Daisy was amazed that I took my knickers off, for some reason things feel different, almost like how it was before, in my Age of Innocence. What I remember is beautiful music playing, aboriginal music playing, I feel like I can breathe, I can fully inflate my lungs like a balloon. I got so emotional about being able to breathe that I was crying. My body felt sore, but I didn't feel like my body was disassociating, although Daisy could still feel it happening. I could feel it in the middle of my back, you know the spot, where he was pushing mo over the bench, and it slowly begun to move from my back to my shoulders. I did some more shaking out, but it was more like a fine tremor. Then I could feel an energy release, it felt like a red-hot burning and tingling sensation travelling from my feet to my hands and out of my crown. At one stage I opened my arms out, palms up and I let this intense energy come out of my palms. It was just like being in the Garden of Eden swimming hole at King's Canyon where I felt protected by the silky soft water, the warmth of the sun, the blue sky, the red cliffs and the pure, fresh and earthy smell. It felt like I was being transported in time to those moments, in the Age of Innocence, where I was in the Garden of Eden swimming hole with my arms open wide, just like Kate Winslet in Titanic, soaking in the magic of nature
Once again it was tiring work. Afterwards I have a shower, it feels so good, I am crouched down so that my back gets the spray, and I turn my body to give my shoulders some attention. I show Daisy my artwork, she loves my bodywork drawings and my "Away with the Fairies" drawing, which I must admit are some of my favourite ones too. When Daisy sees "Shaken to the Core" she comments that the roots extend past the tree's size - and that means that I have good solid roots to help me deal with this. What is incredibly sad is when Daisy comments that a lot of women feel like they were a blow up doll when she sees my drawing "Blow up Doll" It is purely amazing, my skin feels soft and glowing, my shoulders feel looser and my posture feels like it has improved. After our session I feel so relaxed and wonderful despite the fact that I am embarking on the second most stressful life event in 6 months.
I see Daisy 12 months following the traumatic event of my life and she comments that I feel calmer to be around. Which is very positive. During the massage Daisy asks me about my reasons for following him around the market after seeing him a second time and it was pretty insightful. During all this I could feel my right shoulder coming forward in a protective position and Daisy comments that I turn my head to the left side as if I am moving away from something or someone.
Eighteen months following the rape I see Daisy for another massage, she comments that my body feels sluggish and boy do I already know that. Daisy manages to get my shoulder that is protecting me to relax. We still struggle over the usual issue of trying to open my legs and I end up knock kneed!!!!!!! Daisy asks about how I feel about a relationship and I say I would be fine either way. I decide I want a man with a soft nature, a kind, considerate, loving and gentle soul, who is safe to be around, of course.
Soon after that massage I notice that I have been feeling down, work has been extremely stressful and now my body aches especially my back. I am tearful and fatigued! It's extremely difficult to admit to myself that I am not coping, but work has been ridiculously busy and stressful and I can't deal with it like that. Another thing that has upset me has been comments from a couple of people at work. One called me "negative" and told me to make "2006 the end" of dealing with the rape!!!!!!!! I told her I was writing for my website and that is how I will find some resolution. Another work colleague tells me that I am not as motivated as I used to be - funny that, but it is a bit difficult to be motivated when I had to live through what I have had to live through!!!!!!! People just don't seem to get it!!!!!!!!! Survivors of traumatic events are trying to live their normal lives in the face of some bizarre and abnormal situation and they have the added stresses of dealing with the shock and trauma. Yet people who have not been through such traumas expect you to get back to normal and they never allow you the time, support or therapy you need to heal and recover. It just upsets me so much, because they don't see that I am doing the best that I can. I can't help it if that's not good enough for them, but as I said I am doing the best that I can.
I try to see Daisy again, but unfortunately she is just about to go away for a holiday break. I am in desperate need of help, so I decide to go and make an appointment with Dee and Billie whose business primarily revolves around reflexology. I am glad that I decided to do this, it is so hard when you are feeling down to know whether to trust your intuition or not, but I was right about this. I discover that my back pain is linked to the stress that my adrenals glands are experiencing. My body is so tired and exhausted, but fortunately this session provides my back with relief. I found some handy and helpful mediation tips from Billie to help me deal with all this stuff.
1. Go into your home, if it's dark, open the curtains, let the light in, find the door to your study, go and open the door, go inside, if it is dark, open the curtains. Is the room full and overflowing with files? These files hold all your aspects of your life. See a gnome, this gnome is going to organise this room and he will throw away all the files you no longer need. The gnome will tidy up this room and he will only keep a small file of things that you need to keep. Are there any files hanging on the shelf that the gnome did not get? I say the file on pain. Give it to the gnome to throw it away. See your study organised, tidy, clean, light and open with lots of space.
2. You are walking in the forest and you see a lake. What is the water like? I respond that it's rough! Wouldn't it be better to see the lake as smooth, calm, reflecting the sun's light?
3. See a clock face - what number do you see that night? I say that I see between 9 and 12 o'clock. Now what number do I see right now when I am feeling relaxed and I say it's 1 o'clock. So whenever I feel a trigger or something stressful or upsetting occurs try to remind myself of 1 o'clock where my body feels relaxed and peaceful.
4. To help you sleep and promote your body to rest at night while dealing with stress and trauma, turn off your electric blanket and any other electrical sources at the power point in your bedroom to lessen the amounts of mega hertz exposure to your body at night.
Dee chats to me later, we talk about my feelings of revenge towards him that she believes is really about him projecting on to me how he feels about what he has done to me. Dee suggests that whenever I get revenge feelings mentally tell him it is his shit and he has to deal with it and 'unplug' myself from him. It's food for thought and I have found this to be a helpful means of dealing with those thoughts that I have of harming him. Dee talks about how they have cared for both the perpetrators and the targets, and the perpetrators basically have never known love and they don't know how to give it! But she said he is a sad and lonely boy - I already know that he is sad and lonely, but he has created that all by himself. I still believe that we all have choices. Many other people have had difficult lives, yet they have chosen to be decent people.
I have had another appointment with Billie, the only thing I can report is that Billie said to me "you know you could have died that night" and I respond, "I know, but I obviously wasn't meant to die that night, there are things here that I need to do". But thank God someone has actually recognised that fact that I could have died that night! I forgot to mention that Dee has put me on some medications; for example, a herbal tablet called Neuro Calm that may be beneficial during times of stress, tension and anxiety and it is this medication that helps to ease my jaw tension to enable my jaw to relax. I didn't even realise that I was holding tension in my jaw until it started to relax! Other medications for my premenstrual tension include Femme Essentials, Omega EFA with Vitamin E and a Magnesium supplement to help in times of stress, relieve symptoms of PMS and muscle cramps.
I must admit I am getting pretty sick and tired of unhelpful comments socially and at work, like "make this year the year to get over it, leave it behind", "oh, 18 months ago, that's a long time ago, you should be over it by now" and "I would feel better if you went on antidepressant medications". For heavens sake, how are these comments going to make me feel better? These comments usually piss me off is what they do! It is hardly positive feedback, but being stubborn and determined as I am, I decide that I am going to keep on dealing with it my way. I am also learning to respond to these comments by saying, "I will get over it when I get over it", "well, actually it takes 3-10 years on average for women to get over a traumaa like this" and "imagine that I am in labour and I don't want an epidural and I want to use the shower, the bath, walking around, water for injections, breathing, positions and rocking instead. Would you be able to support me with my choices?"
Sadly a work colleague, Lily, has died. I find it so sad as she was such a beautiful, loving, kind and happy woman. I find the loss of Lily very sad because if anything we need more people like Lily in this world to make it a happy place. If Lily has done everything that she needed to do in her life, then I haven't because I survived and I need to give my experience purpose and meaning.
CONVERSATIONS WITH MY BODY PARTS
Twenty-one months following the rape, it appears that I still have 3 persistent problems - painful breasts and period pain during my premenstrual period, tiredness and difficulty letting go off my anger towards Paula and Georgia who I feel have abandoned me. Mary helped me to understand that the PMS is probably an emotional response given what he did to my breasts and vagina. So I decided to have a chat with my breasts. I told them - I know you were hurt, I was there too, we were both hurt and I don't really want or need these painful reminders of what he did to me. I know only too well what he did to me. So let's make a deal, I know he was cruel and hurtful when he left you bruised with bite marks and his touch was intentionally harmful and hurtful. My touch will be kind, compassionate and loving. In fact, I will give you loving touch with Reiki. The time of PMS need not be painful reminder instead we can have painless and positive PMS. We can do this together with loving touch and combined effort to achieve a pain free and positive PMS experience. We deserve this. It is interesting; as the PMS rears its head I could feel all my anger build up. I just feel so disappointed, let down and abandoned by Paula and Georgia. So, I am hoping by focusing on a pain free and positive PMS experience, these feelings of anger, abandonment, disappointed and let down will lessen too. So since my chat to my body, my premenstrual symptoms seem to have eased. So much has happened close to the 2nd anniversary that I find it unbelievable really. One a positive note I have experienced pain free time pre-menstrually and I am absolutely thrilled about that.
DNA RELEASE WORK (THETA HEALING)
At an appointment with Dee she suggests that I see Sabrina for some DNA release work. Very basically, one aspect of this DNA release work, called Theta healing, is working on our belief systems, particularly negative belief systems, that may be affecting our health and body and changing the negative belief system to a positive affirmation. This is done while the practitioner is in a subconscious state, called theta and it is in this state that stress can be relieved, relaxation can occur, it can reduce pain, stimulate endorphins to release and therefore, result in feelings of euphoria in the client. For example, someone who has been abused or molested will more than likely feel and believe that "I am a victim" and this negative belief can be pulled and replaced with "I am a power in my own life" and "I am strong". Other examples are, pulling "I am depressed" to "I am filled with joy"; "I am alone" to "I am surrounded by people that love me", "It's my fault" to "I forgive myself"; "I am abandoned" to "I am supported" and "no one wants me" to "the world is a wonderful place and it is just waiting to support me"
It is during my sessions with Sabrina that I discover that there has been generations of violence within my family, particularly, my father's side and patterns are emerging in my own life where I have issues with authoritarian men, being pushed around and weapons eg knives. Unfortunately, these patterns can continue to occur unless we are able to address them in a healthy manner. I have had enough of these painful, hurtful, cruel and destructive men! However, I am glad to discover that I am not the same genetic vibration as my father's family. My way to find a sense of justice is to write my experience, to help find ways to improve the legal system for survivor's of rape and I need to add a chapter to this book called "How to Keep YYourself and Our Children Safe" I also discover that I need to be brave and let go of those people who are needy of my attention and are not willing or no longer willing to support me in my time of need. I must say I find these sessions leave me feeling more peaceful, I feel safe and it is a welcome relief. I attended a DNA Theta healing course, Sabrina wanted to stir up some feelings for me. Well, it certainly did that. I got to focus on breathing again, being able to remain in my own body and being able to recognise hurtful people.
The day before the 2nd anniversary I see Dee for some reflexology. Dee talks about meeting a woman who is researching those people who have been abused. Apparently this woman doesn't like to call people who have been abused as victims or survivors, but she prefers to use the word "target" because we are chosen as targets by the abuser. To me it puts the blame back on the abuser where it belongs, as it is the abuser who choses his target to abuse. As targets we do not chose to be abused, we are chosen targets, chosen by these abusive people to be hurt and abused!!!!!!!!!!!! I too become part of the research. I am happy that I am telling my truth and helping other people chosen as targets.
A month following the 2nd anniversary, I go to a study session on reading faces, organised by Billie and Dee. I must that I found it quiet confronting especially once the presenter told the group of all the hurt and pain that he could see around my eyes and he states, "dare I say it's from abuse". At that moment in time I wished the earth would open up and swallow me. How scary is that, despite my jaw relaxing, it is still written all over my face that I have been abused. That is frightening as it means that another abuser could target me and I want to feel safe within myself, so that these abusive people are not drawn to me.
MIND-BODY ANALYSIS & PSYCHOSOMATIC THERAPY
However, I was extremely challenged by the concept of doing the bodywork shop and having to wear bathers, necessary to do body work readings. I didn't feel like I had any choice or control. However, I came to realise that I am not being controlled, that I do have choices, either I don't wear my bathers and I don't go and nothing changes or I wear my bathers, go, pay attention and something may change to benefit myself. I decide that I must be being challenged to draw my attention to this, so rise up and face the challenge by doing this. I decide that I have all the courage I need to be able to do this even though it will be like looking in a mirror it will be helpful. So I have to trust myself and do it.
So with all the courage I can muster I decide to do the bodywork shop. I have to trust and have enough faith that maybe I can find myself and save myself too. I arrive at Billie and Dee's practice. Billie comes up and cuddles me saying, "Oh my God, this is huge, so huge, that you came". Of course, the tears start to flow as I feel the fear start to creep in because I do not know what will happen. So in the group introduction I have a shaky start sharing that I have been abused and I want to release it and learn to protect myself. I move from strength to strength as I discover how and why I hold my body the way I do. Then, as the day progresses, it all makes sense, like a jigsaw puzzle finally falling into place.
First of all I will give you some background on the Mind-Body Analysis and Psychosomatic Therapy. The Australasian Institute of Body-Mind Analysis and Psychosomatic Therapy Teaching Course folder from Psycho 1 An introduction to The Magic of Body Mind Communication with Hermann Muller pages 1-4 provides the following information: Basically, we all vibrate our belief systems and feelings within our physical body and that affects our body chemistry, physiology and posture. Our cells remember our conditioned responses in our physical body and may result in psychosomatic responses. On a subconscious level our behaviour is affected by our feelings, belief systems, attitudes and behaviour. These responses can result in our physical body being well; or negative messages can become dis-ease and then disease. Our body has within it a history of past successes, trauma, personality, expressed or unexpressed feelings.
This history is retained in all of our body's cells, where reoccurring thoughts, behaviour and attitudes affect personality and behaviour, which forms our body's internal and external language, shape and posture. Our weight, length, size, width and body shape are all affected when we have been exposed to fight/flight patterns or safe conditions. The constant chatter of thoughts, negative feelings, memories and nervous complaints continually vibrate though our cells, particularly our outer tissue, which can become distorted from it's natural size and shape. The body's cells are dying every minute and the new cells being replaced. We have the ability to change the vibration of the cells that still exist, from tension and pain, to relaxation and pleasure. When there is long standing pain and tension, fear, insecurity and sadness the tensions become habit - we focus our awareness away from our body, we function from our minds, disassociating, and we are isolated from our feelings. Research in the early part of the 1900's recognised that the cellular memory of our body's tissues after mental or emotional trauma causes tension within the physical body and that in turn creates armouring and diseases.
So one the 2 days of the mind body workshop I discover many things about my body, for example,
Throat - there is extra tissue and tension in my jaw and a dowager's hump at the back of my neck. I feel threatened by men. I am disassociating from my body and my feelings as my power has been compromised and I am hurting. My own power is hurting me. My ability to communicate freely is restricted.
My shoulders - are elevated and rolled forward as I am protecting my heart and my heart charka is blocked from repressing my emotions. I have a chronic attitude of fear of being hurt from previous experiences and I feel highly vulnerable and I withdraw from life. It is suggested that I rub my heart charka each day. I have been hurt a lot when I was young, so I gave in to please others. I must learn to please myself and not allow others to push me around. As a result of my shoulders being rolled forward I have shallow breathing that results in discomfort and anxiety. Therefore I am not able to clear enough toxic wastes, so I have less energy and more stress. Is it any wonder that I didn't feel like I could breathe, that I had no energy and lots of stress!!!!!!
Large breasts - that are needed to nurture others, but that can lead to smothering and I give away energy to others in an attempt to gain approval. Helpful exercises to help release my shoulders include lifting my chest up, pulling my shoulders back, folding my arms behind my back, pretend that I am using a bow and arrow, hold my arms out straight by the side of my body and do small circles with my hands, and leaning backwards over a fit ball.
Solar plexus - my stomach is pushed out like I am pregnant as I have literally, had a "gutful" of giving out too much, being too nurturing of others and getting very little back in return. I hold myself tight so that I feel that I have power and control. But there is the feeling that "someone is controlling me" and guess who it was? It was me. I was controlling my body with muscle tension before someone else tried to control me. I also fear letting go of control over the vital necessities of life eg money and security. I am weighted down by extra abdominal tissue that is holding onto suppressed emotions. My lower torso has lots of extra tissue for protection I need to hold my posture by pulling in my abdomen and pulling up my upper body and gain power and control and loosen my muscles to feel more freedom.
Lower back - I have a big hollow where I have been breaking my back to please others. I need to lift up my upper body to take the pressure off my transverse colon to allow my diaphragm to push down and let the upper lobes of my lungs fill. I need to lift up and raise my consciousness of my body by holding my belly firm and breathing. I found that when driving home in my car that night, when I pulled my tummy in and lifted up, my back felt supported, so I also felt supported.
Tilted back pelvis- that is cocked back and up, the pubis is tucked under as I am uncertain of the consequences of discharging this pent up energy, my posture is frozen and I have tension that results from an underdeveloped ability to express and assert myself. This frozen posture is often accompanied by over developed thighs caused by a need for security.
Base - I have good muscle tone, but I hold a lot of tension in my thighs and I have a tight arse. I have vital life force support, but my feminine energy feels exposed. I have puffiness in my feet from lymph collecting and I need to walk with my toes touching the ground first so that I walk with a spring in my step rather, than walking on my heels where life is a drag. My knees have a lot of tension as well as my calves and Achilles tendon. I am trying to assert and strengthen my feminine side. Also my ego and identity have been challenged.
Arms - my arms bend out from the elbows giving out more than I can give to others. Other people easily push me around and I give in easily to please others. My arms are close to my body resting on my thighs protecting my sexual area.
The most important concepts here are balance in motion where you carry the weight of your body initially from your toes to the rest off your foot so that you carry your weight through the centre of the joints, from the smallest lever of the toes so that this allows effective movement and good health. The other important concept discussed here is that of correct body posture by pulling the belly in, lifting up through the chest and pulling your shoulders back.
Oh what sweet relief to know this is what my body is doing and why. The total bonus comes from discovering how I can put a spring in my step and attitude, how to pull my belly in, lift my chest up and take deep breaths into my lungs so that I feel fulfilled, my back feels supported, my pelvis feels better in a normal position, I know my shoulders will open with the breathing and I can feel open and safe. It was a relief to hear Hermann say that my enlarged protruding belly was because I'd had a gutful of being hurt and abused.
It gives me so much confidence that I can protect myself, I can stand up for myself, I can support myself, and I can let go of the control over my body from the muscle tension. I can safely release my blocked pelvic energy; I can let go of my issues over security, discomfort and anxiety, so that I can be open and safe. I can nurture myself and gain self-approval. Words are unable to describe how I feel. I feel courageous, strong, relieved, safe, protected, and open. It is like a huge burden has been lifted off me. I can do this, it makes sense to me and I deserve to know this. What an absolutely amazing, awesome and wonderful gift I have received.
It was awesome to discover that while others have been controlling me all my life, that I had, through my own tension, continued to control my body. I knew that I had had enough and I had a gutful of living like this. I knew it could be different as I have this passion within me that has helped me find the answers. I knew that I didn't want to live the rest of my life like that, feeling unsure, unsafe, unprotected, vulnerable, suffering and feeling pain and fear and being controlled by others and myself. I am aware that I can now be free. Free of fear, pain and control - and instead I can be safe, protected and open.
I realised that I had to see myself though Hermann's eyes to see the truth, then I had to really see for myself and then I could come home to my own body, I can feel safe to be in my body and I can show the world my truth. I can see why it is so easy for people to want to escape from pain, suffering, fear, control, hurt and abuse by freezing, withdrawing, escaping with drugs and alcohol, becoming promiscuous or opting to leave this world. It has been difficult to consider that all my life I have been controlled and abused, but I knew that I didn't want to continue living my life caught in this cycle. There has to be something more than that and I have been fortunate to discover the answers for me. I can keep myself safe and protected by standing in my own power. I can nurture myself, I can keep my own power and I can be free. Free at last.
I have had tears of joy and relief flow. I can walk with a spring in my step, my body can be relaxed, I can suck in my belly and lift up my chest and I know that abusive people will not be interested in targeting me because I can stand proud, and tall because I have great courage and strength and finally I can breathe.
"I am free, free to finally be me, free to finally see me and show me off to the world. I am free, free to show my light and passion to the world" (Diary entry, 30/7/06).
On the first day of the workshop I learnt that my face showed a mask of abuse and later my body showed people that I'd had a gutful, my back was broken from helping others and I have had so much hurt, pain, suffering and abuse that I have had to protect my heart obvious by my shoulders rolling forward. I realised that I want to change this body image I had as a result of the abuse. I want people to see the strong, brave and courageous woman that I am. I am aware that posture is the secret to my body feeling safe, protected, open and secure. I realise that my lack of posture and disassociation from my physical body, affected the things that I didn't think abusive people could see, yet they must have, because I kept on attracting these abusive people. I want to attract people who have found their own home within their own physical body and soul, who speak their truth, who listen and respect my truth, who accept themselves, myself included and others as they are. I want to attract people who can give what they can give, yet they care and nurture themselves and are able to let me give what I can give, as well as encourage me to be able to care and nurture myself.
I felt so lost. I didn't know how to feel safe within myself and to others my body clearly showed my pain and history of abuse. However, I am now able to stand tall, breathe and hold my posture in a way that shows that I am safe and protected within my own body. I feel safe and protected from hurtful, painful and cruel people because my posture shows that I am strong, brave, courageous, safe and protected. Therefore, these hurtful, painful and cruel people may see me now, but they will not be attracted to me. I can feel the tears of joy; release and relief begin to flow again. This seems to be the missing piece of the puzzle. I can look back and see that I have endured some extremely and unbearably painful time in my life because of hurtful, painful and abusive people. I have been challenged, yet I was able to trust my intuition, I struggled to find the answers and it has taken so much energy, strength, courage and determination. I can finally say that I am home within my own physical body, I am safe and protected within my own physical body, I can breathe and I am free.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
I am going to describe the importance of how we carry our physical body to people within our world. According to my early Internet searches, men who rape women, target women who are vulnerable, who have with little self confidence, minimal eye contact, hunched posture, women who take small steps, physically infirm or are likely to react passively. Men who rape are likely to render their targets incapable of giving consent and forcing their chosen target into submission with the use of alcohol, drugs, subtle coercion is employed and weapons may also be used. Alcohol is the rapist's number one choice to render the woman incapable of giving consent. Men who rape women feel entitled to do so, consider rape as an act of possession, power and control and under the influence of alcohol they will interpret a smile or laughter as evidence that the woman wants sex. Men who used drugs and alcohol during the assault feel that it gives them permission to assault the woman. Remember that consent is about giving your permission freely, without the presence of threats, force, violence or manipulation. Consent can only be given to a sexual act if you are sober and in a rational state of mind.
Most rapes are planned and 80% of rapes occur late at night, over the weekend, and in the man's home where he feels he has the power and control. Chosen targets may also become paralysed with fear or fear of further violence if they struggle. Men who rape do not respect your wishes and he may make all the decisions without ever asking your permission. Unfortunately being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs make it more difficult for the woman to make good sexual decisions and control what happens in a sexual situation. The other most important and relevant piece of information to survivors of sexual assault - we are more vulnerable to future sexual assault because of a decreased ability to react to danger or threat and our judgement is impaired. It now makes more sense to me as to why women have been assaulted numerous times. Please do not let that happen. I find that there are more than enough reasons here in these paragraphs for me to focus on my posture and to choose other safe behaviours, for example, always avoid going to the home of a man who is an acquaintance to you, to avoid ever being targeted again by another verbally, physically and sexually abusive man.
A month following the Body Analysis and the DNA Theta healing workshops, despite that helping me so much, I have hit a lull. I am so sick and tired of hearing his name all the time. I know that it is best not to let hearing that name annoy me, but it does. I know it is just a name, but it is the name of the man who raped me. I really don't want to be hearing it 10 times a night when I am watching TV. Plus I am plagued by feelings that now that I feel better that I want to bring about a conviction against him. When I see Sabrina she tells me, that it is just a name, try not to react or let it annoy you; and helping other women and changing the legal system can be where I find justice. I decide to write another chapter or two for the website because it has been 4 months since I have done any writing for the website. I also decide to start writing a letter to him telling him exactly what I think of him. The dilemma I know I will now have is whether to keep this for myself or do I send the bastard a copy, as I would really like for him to know what I think of him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would like to tell at least one abusive person in my life exactly what I think and I feel like he needs to be made aware of what he really is. Maybe, I would feel more powerful and feel a sense of justice if I could speak up my truth to him, but do I really need to do it and do I really have the courage to do it? Sabrina suggests that I be careful writing a lettter to him, but recommends telling him that the police knows what he did, because these men fear being caught and exposed. I recognise that I am making progess in my healing journey that I can even comtemplate doing this!
I hope that I have been able to clearly show
the connection between mind and body especially how we hold our bodies when
we have been abused. I hope that women can gain ideas on how to look and
feel safe and secure within their own bodies. I hope that women and their
support people now understand that counselling and bodywork need to compliment
each other to help women along their healing and recovery. As women of abuse,
we have been hurt on so many levels and we need to heal on so many levels
too. Maybe this is why so many women feel that they are unable to heal and
recover because this fact is not widely understood or accepted. Take the
effort required to nurture you so that you can heal and recover, because
it is worth it. There is always hope. I know there is hope because I have
had major breakthroughs that are making an amazing difference to my healing
and recovery. I know that triggers and issues in regard to me being sexually
abused will occur throughout my life, but I know that I can deal with them
because I have endured, survived and overcome the shock and trauma of the
sexual assault. I feel once I finish telling and writing my story I will
feel healed and recovered because sharing and writing my story is a form
of healing too. I can do anything I decide to do even if that includes challenging
and changing the legal system. Then I will do that too. Shame on the legal
system and society for letting this happen in the first place, letting these
men get away with it, treating women as if they deserved what they got and
for failing to support women heal and recover from rape. So do take the
time you need to heal, trust your intuition, find the counselling and bodywork
therapies that you believe will help you and trust that you can heal and
recover from this.
To see an outline of the stages in Evelyn's journey to date
Chapter 1 of her journey - 'Love, not Time, Heals all Wounds'
Chapter 2 'Be careful of the men you choose'
Chapter 3 'The Loss of the Age of Innocence'
Chapter 4 'Frozen with Fear'
Chapter 5 'Counselling'
Chapter 7 'Simple Things'
Chapter 8 'Making Sense of Secondary Wounding'
Appendix 1 - Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Appendix 2 How survivors of sexual assault can have a positive Pap Smear Experience
The journey of survival and healing - an outline
© 2005 Evelyn Shakespeare
To read Chloe's story
of her rape and abuse within a long term relationship.
© 2005 Chloe