Why is it so hard to heal from sexual abuse or assault?

Healing from sexual trauma can be extremely challenging. It is a horrifying violation of a person’s body and essentially, soul. The mental and emotional torture it creates can last for years, long after physical wounds heal. Survivors experience PTSD, flashbacks, a strong startle response, multiple physical ailments, severe anxiety, feeling permanently unsafe, deep feelings of shame, fear or anger… amongst many other feelings. It greatly affects their sexual lives. Other areas of their lives can also shut down. They may have trouble in their relationships with family, friends and work colleagues thereafter. Or experience difficulties at work or find it hard to concentrate. They may loose interest in activities they’ve always loved to do. They may begin to self harm, they may even become suicidal. The ways in which sexual abuse or assault affects a persons life is endless.

Getting help

It is important that the person receives the right kind of help to heal. This is important because some therapies can’t or don’t work. There is an important element that many mainstream therapies don’t always take into account. That is that the body really does store the emotions. Without incorporating some form of somatic body work, the emotions remain trapped to cause mental and emotional distress.

Many of the therapies made available to those that have suffered a severely traumatic sexual assault or sexual abuse involve ‘reliving’ the event in some way or the other be that through talking, writing or regression therapies. The right kind of help should involve a form of body work to help release the muscular tensions or contractions down the body that are causing the emotions to stay in place. This should be possible without needing to relive the experience, or talk about it.

The good news is that there are now numerous somatic therapies available that can help. There has also been a great increase in research into somatic therapies in Psychology over the last 10 years. There is also an amazing therapy called SHEN ® therapy, developed my Richard Pavek, that can help you on a transformative journey to healing.

The torso stores emotions at specific emotional centres

Various emotions are at felt at and stored at specific locations down the torso. The body creates an involuntary contraction when it feels something painful. It can’t differentiate between physical pain or emotional pain, so it contracts around either. The painful emotions felt when experiencing a sexual assault or abuse then become trapped and stored down the various emotional centres of the torso.

With sexual assault, the body will likely be experiencing both physical and emotional pain at the same time, forcing it to contract strongly around the pain it is experiencing. This is an involuntary and protective mechanism, however it works against itself. The protective mechanism of contracting around the source of pain causes the pain to continue, long after the event has occurred by keeping the trapped emotion in place and creating mental and physical strain to the person.

How does this make healing from sexual abuse harder?

Sexual assault causes multiple layers of trapped emotions within a victim. Assault of any kind immediately takes away an individuals power. It also leads to deep feelings of shock, guilt, shame, blame, embarrassment, betrayal, anger, fear and anxiety. As emotions are experienced in different emotional centres across the toro, this results in multiple strong contractions down the centre of the body often occurring all at once…

The contractions around the emotions hinder the flow of the body’s biofield (qi/energy) from flowing freely. This results in various physical ailments and causes the mind to repeat the assault or abuse on replay (flashbacks). Releasing these contractions results in the restoration of the energy flow in the biofield. This leads to the mind quietening and the body being able to restore its natural physical functioning.

These contractions are not easy to release without some help or knowledge of how to release them on your own.

*Always seek a trained professional who is fully qualified in a somatic therapy to help you.*

Where are the emotional centres?

The Heart centre is located at centre of nipple line on the body. This emotional centre experiences hatred, sadness, grief, reverence and remorse.

The Solar plexus is located between the V of the ribcage and the top of the navel. This emotional centre experiences anger, fear and anxiety and stores it here.

The Sacral area is at the centre of the body between the top of the navel and upper edge of the pubic bone. This emotional centre experiences shame, betrayal, powerlessness, guilt, low self worth and low confidence.

The Root centre is located at the groin. This centre experiences shock, horror, mortal terror, massive grief and of course sexual feelings. Emotions trapped at the root can shut down bodily functions, repress sexual desire and cause an overwhelm of mental activity.

These emotional centres all experience positive emotions too. The heart centre will experience love, joy, happiness. The Solar Plexus will experience excitement. The Sacral can experience feelings of empowerment and confidence. The Root centre can experience feeling grounded, strong and sexually awake. These feelings are experienced as pleasant so the body doesn’t experience pain and contract around them. Rather they flow freely through the biofield (qi/energy system) and dissipate very quickly.

Painful emotions in all the emotional centres will be activated when someone experiences sexual assault. This results in multiple contractions down the torso. As these emotions stay trapped in the body the person will experience emotional and mental distress, changed behaviour, as well as many physical ailments such as IBS, low sex drive, unexplained stomach aches, PTSD, unexplained lower back ache, haemorrhoids, heightened awareness and strong startle response, overwhelming mental activity and for some women – menstrual disorders. Those are just a few of what a person could experience.

HOW SHEN ® Therapy can help

SHEN therapists are trained to use the qi that flows from their hands to help release the contractions holding emotions in place down the toro. They place their hands at very specific areas across the body in order to release these contractions. SHEN Therapists will request a client history form to be filled out so we can assess where to work on your body. Essentially your emotional history is a road map to us, guiding us where to work on your body. The story is not as important as the emotion you felt, so we don’t have to go into any details of any particular event.

A initial series of 8 to 10 SHEN sessions is recommended when working with sexual abuse or assault, although more often than not, more sessions are required to get into the deeper layers of emotions involved. SHEN intensives are particularly good for survivors of sexual assault/abuse, as these sessions are extremely close together usually spread out of a 2 or 3 day period. During an intensive, the body or rather biofield is open for a longer period of time o allowing the therapist to work very deeply.

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