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Posts Tagged ‘healing from sexual abuse’

+++ possible religious triggers – I have tried to keep my language “untriggery” +++

As I have shared before, I am very active in my church. I belong to a Methodist church, although I do not consider myself to be a “Methodist.” I have different interpretations of the Bible and beliefs, the most notable being my belief in reincarnation.

Despite the differences, I find a great source of comfort in connecting with a larger group of people, all of whom are seeking to develop the same types of characteristics that I seek to develop in myself, such as compassion. I also like how active the Methodist church is in the community. The United Methodist Church is consistently one of the larger contributors toward a variety of causes, such as helping the people in New Orleans and Mississippi rebuild their homes after Hurricane Katrina.

One huge shortcoming I see in most churches is the reluctance to talk about child abuse, and sexual abuse in particular. The word “sex” is pretty much taboo at many churches, so you can imagine my surprise when my pastor addressed the issue of sex head-on as the sermon-topic last week. I sent him a “kudos” email and encourage him to take it a step farther and address the issues of sexual abuse.

We sang a hymn that I had never heard before. It is called Sacred the Body, and it is hymn #2228 in the United Methodist hymnal (the small supplemental one):

Love respects persons, bodies and boundaries. Love does not batter, neglect or abuse. Love touches gently, never coercing. Love leaves the other with power to choose.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had no idea that the topic of abuse and neglect had found its way into the Methodist hymnal!

I have also spoken with the Stephen Ministers at my church about the aftereffects of child abuse. Stephen Ministers are laypeople (people without a divinity degree) who provide friendship to those who are going through a difficult time. I shared with them about how to help anyone who seeks support while working through the healing process.

My faith has been such a big part of my healing process, and yet I see so many child abuse survivors who are unable to find this source of strength as they heal, thanks to all sorts of horrendous abuses they suffered as children. I am glad to see some movement by churches toward helping child abuse survivors. It is not nearly enough, but it’s a start.

Good Resource for Healing from Sexual Abuse:

The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse (Revised Edition)

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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In my last blog entry, I mentioned that the reader who asked about challenges after integration also wanted me to address issues with sex. As I stated in that blog entry, I believe that healing from child abuse and healing from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) are two different process. I believe that this woman’s issues with sex are not from the DID but from the child abuse, which is why integrating from DID has not fixed the problem.

I get this because I am in the same boat. You might have noticed that I have not discussed consensual sexual relationships much on my blog. That is because this is an area of my life that continues to be a challenge. If I were a single woman, I would go on sabbatical from sex so I could work through my feelings toward it. However, as a married woman, that is really not an option if I want to stay married.

Several child abuse survivors have recommended that I read the book The Sexual Healing Journey by Wendy Maltz. They tell me that this is the best resource for healing your consensual sex life after sexual abuse. I have purchased the book and have even flipped through it, but I am not yet ready to work through the book and do the exercises.

This is not to say that I have not made progress. A couple of years ago, I would get drunk before and self-injure afterward. I no longer rely on either crutch. I have also set more boundaries and no longer have sex when I don’t want it as frequently as I used to. I used to drive myself crazy trying to make something “good” out of something that made me feel “bad.” About a year ago, I moved toward indifference. That stopped the momentum of sex being “bad” and moved it into a “neutral” experience. Of course, hub would prefer that it be a “good” experience, but I still have a lot of healing work to do in that area.

I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful in this regard. My best advice is to read through The Sexual Healing Journey because several people have told me that it helped them to heal their feelings toward sex in powerful ways.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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