Healing Sexual Abuse

It looks like things are on track for The Energies of Love to be published in time to be first presented at IGEEM in September. Chapter 8 is called “Sex Is Nature’s Energy Medicine for Couples: Invoking the Passion.” It actually covers many topics, such as looking at the energy dimensions of tantric sexuality and of the Taoist “Arts of the Bedchamber,” but it also addresses the way previous sexual trauma can interfere with a person’s ability to enjoy and benefit from new sexual experiences.

The following case, from a section called “Sexual Wounds and Their Healing,” is one we have used before that people suffering from the aftermath of sexual abuse have found hopeful and inspiring.

Sandy and her fiancé came to one of our colleagues, Alan Batchelder, for premarital counseling. Among the issues they were concerned about was their sexual relationship. Although Sandy had been married before, she found herself reacting with uncontrollable negative feelings when her partner initiated sexual play.

He was willing to be patient, kind, and understanding, and he seemed genuinely interested that sex be a shared experience. While she freely acknowledged that she had no problems with his attitude, she still would usually become upset and turned off by his overtures. They asked for help with this problem, and a private session with Sandy was arranged.

When she came in, the therapist gently asked, “Is there something in your earlier years that you could talk about?” She immediately burst into tears. Red blotches appeared on her skin, and her words were punctuated with heavy sobbing and gasping as she began to relate her story.

“When I was 7 years old, we lived in [a small, rural town]. One day my stepfather took me for a walk down a country road. It was in the summer. We hiked up the side of a hill. Then we stopped. Then he took off all my clothes. Then he took off all his clothes.”

At this point she was scarcely able to breathe. The therapist stopped her and said that it was not necessary to go any further. He had her state her distress rating about the memory, which obviously was a 10. He then led her through the Tapping Sequence. Her intensity dropped from 10 to 6.

At this point, an Acceptance Statement that began “Even though I still feel overwhelmed . . .” was used, followed by another round of tapping. This time the intensity fell to 2. Then another Acceptance Statement was introduced, beginning with, “Even if I never get completely over this…” and a last round of tapping.

By this time, Sandy was breathing quietly. Her skin was free of blotches, her eyes were clear, and she was looking at her hands, lying folded in her lap.

The therapist said, “Sandy, as you sit there now, think back to that hot summer day when your stepfather took you for that walk down that country road. Think about how you hiked up the side of that hill until you stopped. Think about how he took off all your clothes. Think of how he took off all his clothes. Now, what do you get?”

She sat there without moving for maybe five seconds, then looked up calmly and said, without excessive emotion, “Well I still hate him.” The therapist, after agreeing that hating him might be a reasonable response and possibly a useful one to keep, then asked, “But what about the distress you were feeling?”

Again she paused before answering. This time she laughed as she said, “I don't know. I just can't get there. Well that was 20 years ago. I was just a little girl. I couldn't protect myself then the way I can now. What's the point in getting upset about something like that . . . I never let that man touch me again, and my kids have never been allowed to be near him. I don't know, it just doesn't seem to bother me like it did.”

After this single session, she no longer experienced negative feelings in response to her partner’s sexual advances. On a two-year follow-up, she reported that the problem was “good and gone,” and her partner, now her husband, confirmed that there was no sign of the former difficulties.

Notice also that by the end of the session she was speaking of the trauma almost casually, and she was placing it into a self-affirming framework: “Well that was 20 years ago. I was just a little girl. I couldn't protect myself then the way I can now.”

Such shifts in relationship to a traumatic memory that has been emotionally cleared using an energy intervention are typical, and they can give you a new lease on your sexual life.

(Compiled from the forthcoming Energies of Love book by Donna Eden and David Feinstein, Ph.D.)